In this episode of Life & Lessons in Law, James Kamau, seasoned lawyer and chair of DLA Piper Africa, chats to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson on how to attract and retain the best legal talent.
Globalisation, the rapid advancement of technology and evolving workplace trends are among the reasons why retaining legal talent in Africa is becoming increasingly challenging.
James Kamau, chair of DLA Piper Africa and Managing Partner at IKM Advocates (DLA Piper Africa, Kenya), says lawyers are pursuing international opportunities which very few of the local firms can match. “Today's lawyers are much more exposed to developments in emerging areas, which makes these international opportunities very attractive for them, for the corporates and for the international law firms.”
With these international offerings becoming a threat to staff retention at local firms, Kamau suggests that local firms diversify their legal service offerings.
He points out that the rapid advancement of technology is interrupting the marketplace, and if evolving workplace trends are not considered, there will be a continuous drain of legal human resources in Africa.
“You must, therefore, ensure that the evolving workplace trends are attuned to the expectations of this talent. You must put in place agile working practices such as remote working, flexible schedules, cross-functional teams, cross-border collaboration, and then, of course, the use of technology. But you must also approach the learning and development of your people quite differently. You must complement the traditional planning programs with what is now being called the bite-sized learning formats, which includes microlearning,” Kamau explained.
So, what does it take to attract and keep the best talent in Africa?
Kamau puts it down to being a firm that has a market reputation for caring about the people and ensuring this is backed with a remuneration structure that enables people to have “what we call job satisfaction”.
“The one thing that is most overlooked, and yet is the most powerful tool in attracting the best people, is word of mouth. The employees are your greatest ambassadors and it’s therefore critical to have that healthy organisational culture and the employee-supportive policies that make employees talk about you,” he says.
In the podcast, Kamau provides further insight on why law will continue to remain a lucrative career option for future generations alongside the other rapidly evolving careers such as digital marketing, artificial intelligence, coding and e-commerce.
The conversation wraps up with Kamau sharing his views on how a firm can support its talent, right from being an intern all the way to partner: “If the environment is right, then rising to partnership becomes attractive to this generation.”