Katten’s Chief Talent Talent Officer Melanie Priddy spoke to The American Lawyer about how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the role of talent officers across the legal industry.

Despite recruiting challenges that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic, including greater difficulty in developing bonds between new hires and their offices, talent officers are finding opportunities for growth in the industry. Legal recruiting processes have become more streamlined since the pandemic: candidates are no longer required to travel to offices for interviews and meetings can take place virtually. Additionally, a potential candidate’s suitability for remote work is a question that talent officers are taking into greater consideration.

Other changes include implementing cross-training of teams whose workload has decreased due to the pandemic, such as events and travel teams, and redeploying them to help in other areas of a law firm, where the workload has increased.

Melanie stressed the importance of mental health and communication. She spoke about not only managing and adjusting programs like leadership retreats and associate summits but also continuing to maintain less formal communications that allow colleagues to stay connected.

“Your job is about people and those people being satisfied and happy,” Melanie said. “Now that people are in their homes, it is more important than ever to say connected. You miss those simple and informal interactions you get day-to-day with people you work with.”

According to Melanie, affinity groups, such as those focused on LGBTQ or diversity issues, can also play a more critical role in keeping people connected.

“A silver lining in all of this is people in my position and in other positions have been talking to each other and sharing best practices. There is an incredible amount of connection with the talent folks at other firms as we struggle with how to do so many things in a different way,” Melanie said.

Read, “Chief Talent Officers Are Using the Pandemic to Build for the Future,” in its entirety.