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Research that some in-house career paths need to end; mandatory retirement policies?

A report three or four years ago by the General Counsel Roundtable found that frustration by in-house attorneys regarding career advancement had not created difficulty for legal departments in attracting, motivating, and retaining attorneys. To the contrary, many legal departments were found to be suffering from the opposite problem – “over-retention and the economic inefficiency resulting from attorneys who accumulate compensation without a corresponding change in the complexity of the work they are asked to perform.” The same point that applies to complexity of work applies to amount of work done – increasingly higher pay may not be matched by increasingly higher productivity.

Members of the Roundtable suggested such varied solutions as workload audits, forced ranking, alumni contractors, managed outplacement, and hybrid positions. I wondered about mandatory retirement policies. If readers know about any policies or laws governing mandatory retirement for members of legal departments, please let me know.

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One response to “Research that some in-house career paths need to end; mandatory retirement policies?”

  1. Steven Levy says:

    In a corporation, people who are in “terminal positions” — i.e., with no likelihood of advancement — generally build compensation at a rate only slightly higher than inflation. In effect, they’re doing the same work for the same pay year after year.
    That said, there is a reasonable expectation that a _knowledge worker_ in a terminal position becomes more efficient over time, that she uses her experience to do the job better or more efficiently. That should be recognized, and paid for.
    However, some attorneys are _process workers_, not knowlege workers. They churn out the same thing at the same pace each year — reviewing contracts, processing H1B applications, builing priv logs, and so on. These folks should not be compensated above the inflation rate… and these are the same tasks that might be better outsourced or offshored. (Oh, the delicious irony of offshoring H1B processing….)