- Arnold & Porter’s new chief legal talent officer surveys the recruiting scene in a busy week for CTO moves
- Firms are grappling with generational differences in approach to work-life balance
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(Reuters) – Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer kicked off the week by welcoming a new chief legal talent officer, adding to recent churn among C-suite level professionals dedicated to lawyer recruiting and retention.
Andy Colon is joining the firm in Washington, D.C., from Thompson Hine, where he had been chief talent officer since 2015. Before that, he spent a decade and a half at Dickstein Shapiro, where the onetime litigation attorney first switched from law to law firm talent management.
It’s been an active few weeks for law firm CTO moves. Earlier this month, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr tapped Robins Kaplan’s chief talent and diversity officer for its own chief talent officer role. This week alone, along with Arnold & Porter, Baker McKenzie added Dentons’ Jay Connolly as chief people officer and DLA Piper promoted Lenora Ausbon-Odom to chief talent development and inclusion officer.
Colon spoke with Reuters about his new role, the pandemic’s impact on the lateral hiring market and how he plans to help his firm keep up.
The conversation below has been edited for clarity and length.
REUTERS: What trends do you see shaping the current legal recruiting market? What are your top priorities as a chief talent officer?
COLON: Certainly there is a change now as a result of a pandemic, where there’s a greater emphasis on flexibility for lawyers, and firms are trying to define what does that mean and what would be the extent of that flexibility. We have to view it in the context of the generational differences that exist between junior lawyers, who are coming up in the practice of law and have greater expectations of flexibility, and the traditional expectations in law firms where flexibility was always available on a more limited basis. So, finding that perfect balance between the before and the after, it’s certainly a challenge.
There is a greater conversation on two very important topics that are happening right now in the industry. One has to do with wellness, and it’s giving greater emphasis to the physical, mental and spiritual health of attorneys. It is a conversation that existed before the pandemic, but I believe the pandemic has exacerbated the need to focus on those types of issues. The other conversation is around the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion. During the last great recession, the legal industry experienced a negative impact on critical pipelines for diverse attorneys, and I think that there’s a collective effort in the industry right now to ensure that the impact is limited.
REUTERS: With the war for associate talent at Big Law firms continuing, what will you do to help Arnold & Porter compete?
COLON: There are reports out there that suggest that this new generation that are graduating from law school, they’re looking for meaningful work, and I think that our pro bono program provides a great opportunity for lawyers to do incredible meaningful work for individuals in our communities. Continuing to support the firm’s brand as a firm with a great culture, and a great practice, that will be critical to attract talent into the firm.
REUTERS: What about retention?
COLON: The industry as a whole is struggling to retain associates for the long term. I think that there is a need to have exceptional work opportunities and an exceptional training program to ensure that they can see the value and the commitment of the firm.