Updates and advice for attorneys and law departments.

How Attorney Ghosting Is Disrupting the Legal Industry

Like the rest of the corporate world, law departments are encountering more vanishing candidates. It’s not uncommon for experienced attorneys to enter your hiring funnel, pass several stages of evaluation, and disappear without further word. In fact, more law departments are running across candidates who will skip interviews or even go radio silent after accepting an offer.

This type of ghosting has been normalized since the start of the pandemic. An Indeed survey found that 76% of organizations reported having been ghosted by candidates in 2020, from early in the screening process all the way up to a no-show on their scheduled first day.

What’s the cause of ghosting? And what actions can General Counsel take to decrease the number of unexplained disappearances in their hiring processes? By looking at some of the factors and reasons influencing this behavior, we have produced a few ideas.

Why Are Attorneys Ghosting Organizations?

Though the concept originated with online dating, ghosting is a perfect way to describe the behavior of abandoning the hiring process without advanced notice or vocalizing any reasons why. When people ghost others, we believe they do so because of two factors: they have an abundance of options and a sense of separation from the recipient of their ghosting created by virtual interactions, both of which make their fade-out easy to justify.

Right now, attorneys are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime market. James G. Leipold, Executive Director at National Association for Law Placement, says “this is as strong a set of employment and salary outcomes as I have seen in my more than 18 years here at NALP.” Both low unemployment and a 300% increase in open legal jobs between July 2020 and January 2022 reflect that reality.

Plus, attorneys are now inundated with emails and LinkedIn messages about jobs, many of which are not tailored to their skillset or career goals. This likely has a desensitizing effect on how they view the current job market. With the sheer number of opportunities arriving in their inboxes and the impersonal nature of digital communication, some attorneys will be naturally inclined to choose the easiest option for ending an opportunity: ghosting.

Sure, this method might burn one immediate bridge or two, but when you’re living in what feels like a land of overpasses, you’re less inclined to worry about one lost connection.

How Can General Counsel Reduce Ghosting?

It’s safe to say some degree of ghosting has become normalized, even in the legal profession. The increasingly virtual nature of the hiring process places organizations in a position where, if they fail to build a bonding relationship with attorney candidates, they are more likely to see their top prospects vanish.

Build a Better Recruitment Experience

Candidates are more willing to disengage from businesses when they don’t feel connected. A survey of 1,500 candidates conducted by Greenhouse, the enterprise talent acquisition software company, found that 60% of respondents believe the recruitment experience needs improvement.

From streamlined applications and reduced interviews to frequent communication and ongoing engagement, there are plenty of ways General Counsel can keep attorneys from drifting out of their pipeline. Members of their organization or their recruitment partners just need to take an active role in implementing them.

Offer Candidates What They Want

The last few years have prompted people to reflect on what really matters to them. For people in the legal profession, that hasn’t always translated to more money or greater prestige. In the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market from Thomson Reuters, researchers found that increasing attorney salaries did not necessarily result in lower attorney attrition.

In fact, intangible factors like workplace appreciation and recognition as well as clear work/life balance and encouragement of mental well-being likely had a greater impact on retention.

Neither fully remote nor fully in-office were providing the greatest level of job satisfaction. In a separate survey, Reuters found that hybrid work arrangements provided the highest levels of job satisfaction for those early in their career.

If you are attempting to retain candidates throughout the hiring process, you need to show that you offer the type of environment where employees are valued, mental well-being is prioritized, and work options are flexible. Otherwise, they’ll be willing to take their careers elsewhere – and might not give you the courtesy of telling you why.

Assigned Counsel has encountered ghosting with our candidates and has successfully employed the strategies outlined in this article.

Have you been ghosted by an attorney candidate? Reach out to Assigned Counsel and we can help you find top attorneys to solve your urgent challenges.

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