Workplace transparency is an important determinant of job satisfaction for law firm associates. Providing insights into various aspects of the firm—from financial health and decision-making to performance reviews and promotion opportunities—is critical to maintaining associate buy-in, motivation, and faith in firm leadership. But at large law firms, transparency isn't always easy—between multiple offices spanning the globe, hundreds (or thousands) of employees firmwide, and organizational hierarchies that can cause communication gaps, keeping associates looped in requires intentional effort.
Transparency has been especially relevant in recent times. For starters, many law firms continue to operate remotely, which has made transparency more difficult—and yet, even more crucial in light of the uncertainties posed by the pandemic. Without a thoughtful communication strategy, firms risk leaving their associates feeling isolated and disconnected. And without the benefit of in-person interactions, firms have to be more proactive than ever when it comes to disseminating information.
Additionally, because we live in an age of information overload and “fake news,” people crave accurate information directly from the source—and this includes in the workplace. The National Law Journal recently discussed this aspect of our culture as it applies to law firms, explaining, “We’re more critical of information than ever before” and “[w]hile transparency in [a law firm’s] messaging and pricing is beneficial for [its] clients, openness amongst internal staff is just as important to maintaining a healthy and successful organization.”
In Vault’s most recent Annual Associate Survey, we asked associates to rate their law firms for transparency using a 1-10 scale. From these results, we compiled our 2022 Best Law Firms for Transparency ranking. We also asked associates to provide commentary regarding their firm’s transparency efforts. Associates shared a variety of measures that firms have employed to cultivate transparency, such as implementing a clear, predictable annual review process; providing frequent updates from leadership; inviting associate feedback and participation in decision-making; and making performance metrics openly available.
For an even deeper dive, we spoke to two of the top-ranked law firms for transparency. In the following videos, hear firsthand how Goulston & Storrs PC and Jackson Walker foster a culture of transparency among their associates.
Goulston & Storrs
#5 Best Law Firm for Transparency
Goulston employs a number of methods to keep associates in the loop. Management hosts monthly meetings with associates to recap that month’s partner meeting, and there is a liaison committee with associate members from different practice areas and seniority levels. During COVID, the firm hosted weekly associate meetings with no set agenda, simply providing a place for associates to show up and ask questions. The firm has also taken associate opinions into consideration throughout the pandemic by conducting surveys and holding focus groups.
#6 Best Law Firm for Transparency
Jackson Walker aims for transparency from day one at the firm. At orientation, associates are given a copy of the firm’s compensation matrix, and they receive a full explanation of the annual review process—including access to the evaluation form. The firm also provides clarity into the partnership process, including through a benchmark document that allows associates to compare their actual performance with firm expectations. Beyond orientation, the firm’s managing partner keeps everyone informed through annual town halls and quarterly attorney meetings.
Congratulations to these two firms and to all of our top-ranked firms for transparency! To view Vault's 2022 Best Law Firms for Transparency, click here.
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