‘The pandemic has left its mark’ on law firm talent management, says legal tech CEO

Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Sang Lee, CEO and co-founder of Thine, a technology company that develops and deploys pre-employment and onboarding assessments. She is an attorney and entrepreneur who also owned and operated SJL Attorney Search and Volta Talent Strategies.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and the genesis of Thine.

Sang Lee: I am a lawyer and after a few years of practicing law, I followed my father’s path. He is an immigrant, and I am an immigrant. We believe in building businesses and taking risks, so I quit practicing law and became a recruiter. I then started a recruitment business and saw opportunities to become a consultant and coach because I wanted to help law firms not only recruit talent, but I really wanted to help law firms retain and develop talent. I acquired a company that is now called Volta Talent Strategies. A few years ago, I realized that by combining all these experiences, [it] would allow me to support my current clients in law firms as they attempt to modernize their recruitment and development processes. This is how yours was born. Since I’ve been in the industry for a very long time and because I’ve had the privilege of supporting so many firms in the Am Law 200 and beyond, I felt this was not just an opportunity, but to some extent a responsibility to support my clients in creating this amazing recruitment solutions platform to enable law firms to hire their lawyers more efficiently, effectively and fairly, and then hopefully retain and to develop them using additional assessments as they integrate them.

Ari Kaplan: What do your different entrepreneurial projects have in common?

Sang Lee, CEO and co-founder of Thine.

Sang Lee: The various initiatives that I have had the opportunity to lead and have participated in all relate to the broader picture of talent management in law firms, including recruitment, training and coaching. . They all work together to ensure that law firm professionals can perform at their best.

Ari Kaplan: Thine recently gave me the privilege of interviewing a cross-section of talent management and recruiting executives at Am Law 100 law firms on his behalf to produce a new report titled The rise of innovation in the recruitment of lawyers in a hypercompetitive market. Why was it important for your team to understand the hiring challenges of this group?

Sang Lee: We felt it was really important to get a sense of how the whole industry felt. We spoke with our customers and heard the same stories, but they hadn’t really had a chance to talk to each other. Typically, you have industry conferences and listen to thought leaders who have written articles or given keynote speeches, and because of the pandemic, we haven’t had the opportunity to engage the conversation. Since this is an industry that really wants to be in conversation and understand what their peers are doing, I thought it would be really helpful to find a way for law firms to feel reassured by the knowledge that so many peers in law firms had similar experiences and were deploying similar strategies. For us, it’s confirmation of what we know and what we see coming, and we really want to help.

Ari Kaplan: Which research findings are the most compelling?

Sang Lee: There are so many aspects of the research that moved us, like the fact that 77% of law firm executives you spoke with are considering improving their lateral hiring process. I know people are really unhappy with the lateral process because it’s expensive, ineffective, inefficient, exhausting, and unfair. I know that story, but little did I know that more than three-quarters of star talent were actively considering ways to innovate around their lateral hiring process, which is pretty exciting. This is compelling for the industry because it makes professionals who want to change things feel more secure knowing that more than three-quarters of their peers are also thinking about it.

Ari Kaplan: How has the pandemic impacted law firm talent management?

Sang Lee: I think in the entire experience of law firm talent management, the pandemic has left its mark. I was recently contacted by a law firm that wants to roll out a coaching program for all of its first and second years in all of its offices because these lawyers have never been in the office. He has two years of class of practicing lawyers who have never had the experience of working alongside colleagues in person. The experiences of getting assignments, getting the job done, getting feedback and being evaluated, or even going for coffee with a partner or mentor didn’t happen. Accordingly, if we are not mindful of the impacts of the pandemic, the “Great Resignation” will not be a moment in time, it will in fact be an era; it is therefore essential to pay attention to the impact of the pandemic.

Ari Kaplan: How can technology help law firms hire and retain talent now?

Sang Lee: There are specific ways in which technology can make the process more efficient, such as with talent management platforms that help law firms collect event-level data, while supporting planning. and follow-up to make the process more efficient. Generally speaking, we’re all leveraging technology to make processes feel streamlined, modern, and to collect data, as the legal industry now seems more willing than ever to make hiring, development, and learning decisions. using data. I think that’s pretty exciting because the easiest and most effective way to generate data is to leverage technology.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see law firm innovation?

Sang Lee: Law firms are trying to figure out how to innovate around talent in a number of ways. Some are experimenting with innovative work-from-home strategies or implementing work-from-home policies and return-to-office protocols. There has been innovation in the traditional approach to talent, but where you’re really going to see law firm innovation is in applying legal technology to test different solutions to a wide range of problems. , such as inefficient recruiting, lack of fairness around talent management, contractual inefficiencies, and legal drafting, among others. The universe of legal technology offerings will continue to grow and evolve.


Editor’s Note: This interview references research conducted by Ari Kaplan Advisors, an independent consulting firm, on behalf of Thine.


Listen to the full interview on Reinventing professionals.

Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and the broader professional services community to share insight, highlight transformative changes and introduce new technologies to their level Blog and on itunes.


This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal or the American Bar Association.

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