Ex-DLA Piper chief Sir Nigel Knowles says big pay rises are not a solution to legal recruitment crisis

Monday, February 14, 2022 6:43 PM

Sir Nigel Knowles, CEO of DWF, and former Co-CEO and Co-Chairman of DLA Piper Credit: DWF Group

Sir Nigel Knowles, the former co-CEO and co-chairman of DLA Piper, said offering young lawyers huge pay rises would not solve the recruitment crisis in the legal industry.

In a letter to FinancialTimesKnowles said “offering more and more money to young people is just a band-aid”, as he argued law firms needed to do more to attract and retain the right people.

Knowles criticized the pay rises offered by big companies in the City of London, as he said the pay rises are not a “sincere, lasting or healthy solution for anyone”.

“The failure to find better ways to engage people and create a healthier work environment means the UK legal industry risks losing talent to more enlightened sectors,” Knowles said.

The former DLA Piper chairman also warned that law firms risked losing talent to other, more enlightened sectors, as he suggested that “brilliant young people have many exciting options these days”.

“They could join a fintech, an e-commerce start-up, an ESG consultancy, an advertising agency or a charity,” Knowles said.

The comments come after Knowles joined Manchester-based legal services firm DWF Group in 2017, after spending 38 years at the City of London law firm DLA Piper. Knowles is also the current president of The Link App, a mobile phone app for legal professionals.

Knowles said that while some progressive companies champion diversity, do more meaningful work and encourage more manageable work-life balances, others simply rely on huge payouts to attract and retain talent.

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