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This year we set forth to build a picture of the progress the legal industry has made in adopting HR/Talent Operations best practices. The insights gleaned from our 2023 Law Firm HR/Talent Operations Index research study reveal a landscape where firms recognize the significance of these practices, while execution presents abundant room for enhancement. Across all eight categories we measured, performance of the practices consistently lagged behind the importance of a strategy to embrace or enhance them, revealing a collective acknowledgment among participating firms that they are underperforming in various aspects of HR/Talent Operations.  

Let us first start with the areas we know we are doing well. Based on our findings, we know that firms have: 

  • Effective Management: Firms are excelling in the management of compensation and benefits, demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being. The meticulous handling of employee relations and compliance further underscores a dedication to maintaining a harmonious and compliant workplace. 
  • Synergistic Partnerships: A testament to collaborative excellence is the establishment of solid working partnerships between the HR/Talent executive and the firm’s CIO and IT organization. This collaboration, evident as another area of strength, allows for synergy between HR/Talent functions and crucial IT components, ensuring all the right people are in the room and there is an integrated approach to organizational success. 
  • Leadership Alignment: Top marks were also awarded to firms where the first chair HR/Talent executive reports directly to the firm’s senior leadership, contributing to effective communication and decision-making. This alignment signifies a strategic integration of HR/Talent functions with overarching firm goals, creating a leadership structure conducive to success. 
Areas for Improvement

In celebrating the triumphs of high-performing HR and Talent Operations practices, it is crucial to pivot our attention towards identified opportunities for improvement that surfaced in our study. While acknowledging these achievements, it is equally important to scrutinize the areas that received the lowest scores for both importance and performance, unveiling the gaps that demand our focused attention and collective efforts. Foremost among these opportunities is the overarching theme of measurement and oversight, revealing a critical need for refinement. As we delve into these areas, let us propose actionable steps to bridge these gaps and propel HR/Talent Operations to new heights 

Ensure HR/Talent Governance: The absence of an HR/Talent governance body, such as an HR/Talent committee, was apparent in our findings. Establishing an HR/Talent governance body, like an HR/Talent committee, will provide strategic oversight and direction within the firm. This body should serve to ensure alignment with organizational goals and enhance the effectiveness of HR/Talent functions. 

Develop Scorecards:  

    • Project Scorecard Standardization: Another significant finding was the deficiency in standardizing HR/Talent project scorecards, hindering effective project evaluation and decision-making. Through creation and implementation of standardized methodology that works for the firm, there will be improved project evaluation and decision-making when ensuring consistency and uniform measurement across all projects. 
    • Quarterly Scorecards on Strategic Initiatives: The absence of quarterly scorecards outlining HR/Talent’s overall strategic initiatives for firm leadership signifies a need for improved communication, visibility, and alignment of HR efforts with broader organizational goals. To enhance communication, visibility, and alignment, establish a robust reporting mechanism that articulates HR/Talent’s strategic initiatives that includes progress towards key performance indicators, recent milestones achieved, and upcoming activities.  

Measure Efficiency: 

    • Time Tracking for Projects: The failure to track time against individual HR/Talent projects indicates a potential challenge in monitoring and optimizing the efficiency of project execution. By implementing effective time-tracking mechanisms for HR/Talent projects, firms will achieve consistency, better monitoring, optimization of project efficiency, and ensure that projects are executed within established timelines. 
    • Overall Efficiency Measurement: Equally significant and related is the inability to measure the HR/Talent team’s efficiency in carrying out its work as a whole. Implementing a system, such as time tracking, for measuring the efficiency of the HR/Talent team in carrying out its tasks will enable the team to optimize work processes, identify areas for improvement, and create a culture of accountability.  
A Call to Action

The Calibrate 2023 HR/Talent Operations Index serves as both a mirror and a compass for the legal industry. As we navigate through these findings, it is evident that the legal industry is poised at a moment of great opportunity. While commendable progress has been achieved, a collective opportunity awaits us to not just acknowledge the importance of HR/Talent Operations but to seize the chance to elevate our performance significantly for the benefit of the firm. This juncture is not just a crossroads but a gateway to unlocking the full potential of HR/Talent Operations in shaping a brighter and more impactful future for the industry. 

Our challenge to you in this new year is to transform acknowledgment into action. Establishing governance bodies, implementing standardized metrics, and fostering a culture of efficiency and continuous improvement are just a few first steps. By learning from high performing firms and addressing areas of concern head-on, the legal industry can create a new era of excellence in HR/Talent Operations. 

Get in Touch

Interested in learning how Calibrate can help deploy Talent Development initiatives in your law firm? Contact Haley Revel, Managing Director of HR & Talent Management at Calibrate.