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Invest in alumni relationships, look at firms’ EVP, and offer lawyer-specific opportunities

The data from New Zealand’s Top Six firms’ first quarter hires and leavers is in, and the trends are fascinating. 

Not to sound too cliché, but how are we in June already?!  While we might be halfway through the year, using the data on Insource we have tracked the latest hires into New Zealand’s Top Six firms[1] for the first quarter.  We also looked at the lawyers who left over the same period. This small snapshot of the wider market provides valuable insight and shows the power of the Insource platform as a pipelining and analytic tool.

Alumni hires the easiest of hires

The first quarter for 2022[2] shows a strong trend of the top six firms hiring returning lawyers from overseas (10 lawyers).  Of these 10, six are alumni of the firms they returned to.  

These ‘boomerang’ employees will likely have a history of strong performance with their old firms and were probably relatively straight forward and reliable hires.  Requiring minimal training and often with established relationships across the firm and clients – these are ideal hires.  And a real win for the firms involved.  When compared to lateral hires previously unknown to the firm, boomerang employees will usually perform better and have higher retention rates. 

While this Insight could solely focus on the hires, we think it’s more interesting to compare that with where lawyers left for.  So, let’s do that.

Lawyers seeking different experiences

Insource tracked the first quarter leavers from the top six firms.[3]  Most left for in-house roles or to greener shores overseas (11 lawyers a piece).  The exodus overseas was to be expected (and long predicted) with the opening of borders and easing of travel restrictions.  Anecdotally, all firms we’ve recently spoken to have felt this pain with employees having already left or planning to go.  In a candidate short/picky market, this added pressure is likely to cause stress in teams and firms.

However, what is interesting is that the firms have hired almost the same amount from overseas as they have lost (1 more left than was hired).  Part of their success is those alumni hires, which shows that this is the time to ensure your firm has robust processes in place to keep in touch with your alumni.  These will be the easiest hires of future years, and so the importance of keeping in touch can’t be overstated.

This type of pipelining is what Insource was developed for.  The in-built and bespoke applicant tracker system makes keeping in touch with your alumni exceptionally easy so get in touch for a demo if you haven’t already.

In addition, the exodus to in-house roles shows that lawyers are seeking a different way of working.  With continual talk of how law firms can attract and keep talent, this movement to in-house shows there is something more attractive about in-house roles compared to private practice (for some lawyers). 

This has long been known, however the firms that provide similar or even better opportunities for work/life balance (or integration), improved employee value propositions (EVP) and different career pathways than the traditional law firm structure will have the competitive advantage.  Last year we wrote an insight on effective and attractive flexible working policies, which aims to prompt more lateral thinking about providing the best work environment firms’ possibly can.  

Insource is the leading pipelining tool of choice for most top level law firms in New Zealand.  With a subscription you can identify and connect with the best candidates for future roles, build relationships and analyse the rich data contained on all NZ practicing lawyers.  We’d love to hear from you and discuss how an investment in Insource could deliver better hiring decisions both now and in the future.


[1] Russell McVeagh, Chapman Tripp, Bell Gully, Simpson Grierson, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Dentons Kensington Swan and Buddle Findlay.

[2] In summary, the top six firms’ first quarter known hires came from overseas (10, in-house (4), city firms (4), boutique firms (3), Judges’ Clerks (3), national firms (2), another Top 6 firm (1), and regional firms (1).

[3] In summary, the top six firms’ first quarter known leavers went overseas (11), in-house (11), to national firms (3), city firms (3), other Top Six firms (2), boutique/specialist firms (2), and unknown (1).

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