Legal Talent Management: best practices

By Sharon Golec on Tuesday, October 11th 2016
Management des Directions Juridiques

When it comes to talent management, in-house lawyers have traditionally been the “poor cousin” of the Human Resources department. An analysis Corporate Counsel magazine’s “Best Legal Departments” of 2016 and of recent articles on suggests a favorable evolution and numerous best practices on which General Counsel should reflect.

At 3M, the entire legal talent management approach has been overhauled, from recruiting through career planning. Candidates are interviewed by a structured panel of department members, each of whom focuses on a key competency, identified as part of the department’s competency model. This type of interviewing reduces the role of individual subjectivity and achieves greater consensus on new hires.

At Hewlett Packard, the focus has been on developing talent and promoting internally. Junior, mid-level and senior posts were analyzed and the necessary competencies identified in order to help lawyers map out their individual career paths. In addition, hiring criteria were fine-tuned, in particular for junior level jobs. Evaluating candidates’ potential is considered to be as important as actual job experience and academic performance. The percentage of internal promotions (more than 75%) is a key HR metric.

Internal mobility has also been a priority at The Hartford insurance group. Department lawyers, traditionally highly specialized, have the opportunity to rotate for one year through other legal jobs while still doing their own, in order to learn new areas of law. During the first six months, they benefit from mentoring and training.

Chubb had difficulty finding the highly specialized lawyers it needed, and decided to hire and train more juniors. The company created a specific “on-boarding” program, which is only the first step before enrolling in a year-long internal academy. Lawyers also benefit from a robust mentoring program, a detailed skills inventory and numerous training opportunities.

Such efforts directed in large part at recruiting the best juniors and retaining them seems a far cry from the situation in France, where new graduates are often consigned to an interminable round of internships and CDD… Is this the best way to develop the talent that companies need? Of course, this problem is not confined to the legal function…



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