Turnover diminishes a department’s current capability, bench strength, and succession planning. When a good performer leaves, the loss blasts a hole in institutional knowledge, expertise and collegiality (See my post of May 14, 2005: turnover losses; June 15, 2005: costs to law departments of turnover; and May 5, 2008: turnover rises after layoffs.).
Compounding the losses caused by departures, it takes time and money to fill a vacated spot. General counsel face difficulties hiring lawyers to replace those who leave because there are hiring freezes, compensation limits, a small supply of suitable talent, or HR restrictions (See my post of May 18, 2007: remote law departments have small talent pools nearby; Dec. 3, 2007 #1: executive search placements; March 17, 2007: Motorola and publicity for an open spot; July 5, 2006: executive search firms; and March 26, 2005: executive search firms possibly inflate compensation data.).
Some law departments fill holes temporarily with contract lawyers or secondees (See my posts of March 26, 2007: sources of new hires and the time it takes to bring them on.). Cross-training helps tide over a law department until reinforcements arrive (See my post of Oct. 19, 2008: cross-training.).