Legal Business

DISSENT: The battle for talent and other phoney wars

A false ‘war for talent’ has seen law firms create their own staff shortages, argue Laura Empson and Louise Ashley.

Since McKinsey & Co first coined the term in 1997, the ‘war for talent’ has been the focus of a stream of conferences, media articles and consulting assignments. It has spawned a new human resources specialism – talent management – and with that has come concepts such as ‘competency frameworks’ and ‘succession planning’.

One of the most hotly fought fronts in the war for talent is graduate recruitment. Professional service firms, including law firms, accountancy practices, banks and consultancies, pride themselves on battling with other firms, competing aggressively for a very limited number of ‘the brightest and the best’ graduates. As one banker told us: ‘All the banks are in competition, gunning for that small pool of talent.’