The talent portfolio: New options for where, how and by whom your work is done

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By Gerry Riskin | May 12, 2011

The old “talent wars” were fought over top law students or laterals with big books of business. Tomorrow’s talent competition will be about systems first and people second. Here’s a preview of the new players and new rules of the forthcoming “legal talent portfolio.”

Hey, remember the “Talent Wars”? Five years ago, you were probably reading articles in journals like this one, warning that a lawyer shortage was coming and urging you to act now to preserve the safe supply of that most precious re- source, legal talent. With the imminent retirement of Boomers grown rich on years of plenty and the simultaneous emergence of a Millennial generation notoriously hard to please, you had to fight early and often to corner the market on good lawyers, right?

But then the financial crisis happened, and the recession came in like a storm, and Boomers’ savings dried up, and Millennials were thrown out of law firms by the thousands. And suddenly, the Talent War didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. In fact, it seemed a lot more like an HR version of the Y2K crisis: a lot of consultant-powered hot air that caused great consternation but ultimately came to nothing.

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