Blog Post

Why your paralegals are leaving and what you can do about it

October 6, 2021

The job market is wide open and paralegals are looking for new roles, leaving many immigration law firms without the skills they need. It’s time to consider a different way.

 

People are quitting their jobs more than at any other time in the past two decades. More than 15 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021, according to McKinsey.

While law firms across the globe are raising wages, offering perks and doing whatever it takes to attain and retain their lawyers, there’s significantly less information about what they’re doing to keep hold of their paralegals. And yet recent research states the pandemic has hit these workers hard.

In the immigration legal sector, this attrition is highly damaging – paralegals hold a plethora of specialist skills and knowledge that’s essential for a successful outcome for their clients. But what’s causing this massive workplace disruption?

McKinsey points out that the problem is usually linked to the fact that employers don’t get to the bottom of why their employees want to leave in the first place – and attempt to cover the cracks with vacuous perks. So we held detailed conversations with several immigration attorneys to find out what they believe are the major factors impacting their paralegals.

Working patterns: People are rethinking what makes them happy. Schlepping two hours each way to the office doesn’t fit this profile, especially as 65% of paralegals say they are more productive at home. Hybrid working is a deal-breaker and paralegals are opting for opportunities that accommodate this working pattern.

Family ties:Paralegals are looking to stay close to their parents and family.  Many are leaving to seek a new job closer to their hometown, so they have greater quality time with family.

Overwork: Increasing workloads is a major factor impacting stress levels, especially in immigration law firms. The caseload is ongoing and exacerbated by colleagues calling in sick due to the pandemic. Attorneys are under pressure to deliver the case processing to USCIS as scheduled, further increasing dependency on a few available paralegals.

Work/life balance: Many paralegals are now willing to sacrifice money for a better work/life balance. Health factors and personal time are more important than a big paycheck.

Higher Education: Enhancing their personal growth has become a priority, and paralegals are quitting to pursue additional study – hoping it will increase their prospects.

Improved opportunities: The economy is picking up, and the job market is wide open. Paralegals are on the hunt for better benefits – such as health benefits, pay increases, good medical leave and retirement plans.

Many law firms have discovered they are unable to meet these demands, and given that 40% of workers are considering making a job move, smart law firms are already working on a plan B.

Immigration law firms need to think strategically and adapt new working models with a  scalable, skilled team on hand to help shoulder some of the burden. By utilizing an experienced outsourcing partner, immigration law firms not only overcome the pressure on their paralegal team, but also speed up their processes and mitigate risk.

The challenge in immigration law firms is the level of specialist knowledge paralegals need. Besides substantial experience in US immigration laws across fields such as employment, family, asylum, and business investments, they need a combination of technical, comms and process skills. So it’s vital to choose an outsourcing partner that has the requisite skills your firm requires.

As the economy opens and workers refocus their priorities, any executives who think this attrition is easing or is limited to a particular sector are misguided, according to McKinsey. Workers are willing to leave their jobs without a new position lined up – so confident are they of getting reemployed by a firm that is willing to adapt to their needs.  Your paralegals are operating with one eye out the door, it’s time you considered alternative options.

 

Exigent is a leader in immigration law, supporting law firms for more than 14 years. Exigent offers a 130-strong team with the skill set to hit the ground running.