Legal Tech Talent Retention with Performance Share Units‍

Nica Jose

Legal Tech Talent Retention with Performance Share Units‍

June 19, 2023

Legal Tech Talent Retention with Performance Share Units‍

In a recent study by the Global Legal Tech Association, it was found that legal tech firms boasting higher employee retention outperformed their counterparts by an impressive 30%. And it’s no surprise that a significant portion of these top-performing firms have one thing in common: the strategic implementation of Performance Share Units (PSUs) as a retention tool. 

Far from being just another perk, PSUs have emerged as powerful game-changers in the talent management playbook. In an industry marked by fierce competition and rapid innovation, these share units have become the silent drivers of transformative growth, crafting a new narrative for employee engagement and motivation. This article aims to uncover the PSU phenomenon and see how it's revolutionizing the legal tech sector.

The Importance of Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in Legal Tech Firms

There in the dynamic world of legal tech lies an undeniable truth: technology is only as effective as the minds behind it. As the legal tech sector witnesses unprecedented growth, attracting and retaining the brightest talents has become paramount. But why is this talent so necessary? Here are the compelling reasons:

Fueling Innovation

The legal tech landscape is a battleground of innovation. From streamlining complex processes to crafting user-friendly interfaces, every advancement relies on top-tier talent. These are the thinkers and problem solvers who challenge the status quo, constantly pushing the envelope and setting new benchmarks for excellence.

Client Expectations

Clients are increasingly tech-savvy. They demand efficient, cutting-edge solutions that can only be delivered by firms powered by the best in the industry. Meeting these heightened expectations isn’t just about keeping clients—it’s about staying ahead in an aggressively competitive marketplace.

Operational Excellence

Top talent doesn't just innovate; they optimize. They streamline operations, drive efficiencies, and ensure the smooth functioning of platforms. In an industry where glitches can translate to significant legal ramifications, ensuring operational prowess is non-negotiable.

The Knowledge Evolution

The intersection of law and technology is ever-evolving. As legislative landscapes shift and technology leaps forward, having a team that's not just adept but also adaptive becomes vital. These individuals are voracious learners, always on the pulse of industry shifts, ensuring that the firm remains not just relevant but pioneering.

Culture and Leadership

High-caliber professionals inspire those around them. They shape firm culture, mentor the next generation, and drive a collective ethos of excellence. Their impact transcends their individual role, cultivating an environment of continuous growth and aspiration.

What are PSUs?

In the vast ecosystem of compensation tools, Performance Share Units (PSUs) stand out, not just for their unique structure but for their strategic implications. But what exactly are PSUs, and what's the driving force behind their growing appeal?

PSUs are a form of long-term compensation awarded to employees. However, unlike traditional stock options, they come with a twist. These units are contingent on achieving specific performance benchmarks. Once these targets are met, PSUs convert to actual company shares, allowing employees to truly participate in the organization's success.

Imagine a tool that seamlessly integrates individual aspirations with organizational goals. That's what PSUs aim to achieve. By linking compensation directly to performance metrics, PSUs ensure that employees are invested (literally) in the company's milestones. This design encourages a proactive, results-driven mindset across the board.

One of the standout features of PSUs is their adaptability. Companies can tailor the performance benchmarks according to their strategic vision, whether that's revenue growth, market expansion, innovation milestones, or any combination thereof. This flexibility allows firms to pivot their incentive structure in line with evolving market dynamics and company objectives.

How PSUs Impact Employee Engagement in the Legal Tech Sector

The legal tech domain, with its unique blend of intricate legalities and cutting-edge tech advancements, demands not just expertise but profound engagement from its professionals. PSUs, in this realm, are not just financial incentives; they’re catalysts for a deeper bond between employees and their mission. Below is how PSUs impact engagement within the legal tech world:

1. Sense of Ownership

When legal tech professional knows they stand to own a piece of the company's future, their connection to their work intensifies. With potential shares in the company, they feel less like employees and more like partners. This shift in perspective fosters a deep-rooted commitment to ensuring the technology meets rigorous legal standards and offers innovative solutions.

2. Recognition of Expertise

Legal tech specialists often invest years honing their craft, blending legal expertise with technological acumen. PSUs act as a nod to this unique skill set. Being rewarded with shares is not just about meeting performance targets; it's a tangible acknowledgment of the rare and valuable expertise they bring to the table.

3. Long-Term Vision Alignment

Legal tech projects often have prolonged timelines, given the complexities involved. PSUs, vested over time, ensure that professionals are not just committed to short-term tasks but are deeply engaged with the long-term vision of the product or platform. This alignment is pivotal in an industry where today’s groundwork lays the foundation for tomorrow's breakthroughs.

4. Shared Success

In the legal tech sector, every milestone reached, be it a software update or a successful client integration, is a collective triumph. PSUs amplify this sentiment. When the company thrives, every PSU holder shares in that success, creating a culture where wins are celebrated as a united team.

5. Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The legal tech industry is characterized by rapid evolutions, both in technology and legal frameworks. PSUs, tied to performance benchmarks, serve as a motivation for professionals to stay updated, continually learn, and adapt. The quest for knowledge isn't just personal growth—it directly impacts their stake in the company.

How PSUs Influence Motivation in the Legal Tech Sector

Legal tech, as an industry, stands at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. It's where age-old legal procedures meet the dawn of technological solutions. In this dynamic environment, motivation isn’t merely desirable; it’s essential. PSUs, while predominantly financial tools, cast a far wider net in the realm of motivation within the legal tech space. Here's how:

1. Tangible Future Rewards

At a fundamental level, PSUs promise a share of the future—a stake in the potential upside of the company. For professionals in legal tech, this means the innovations they work on today could bear fruit in the form of share-based rewards tomorrow. This direct correlation between effort and future compensation is a powerful motivational driver.

2. Merger of Personal and Company Success

With PSUs, every stride the company takes is mirrored in the potential value of an employee's shares. For a legal tech expert, this intertwining of personal and company success means that each project, each challenge overcome, and each solution crafted isn't just a win for the organization but a personal victory too.

3. Commitment to Excellence

In the legal tech world, where precision meets innovation, there’s no room for half-measures. PSUs, tied to specific performance metrics, motivate professionals to consistently deliver their best. Whether it's ensuring software is legally compliant or developing a groundbreaking tech solution, the promise of PSUs encourages an unwavering commitment to excellence.

4. Boosted Morale and Team Spirit

PSUs aren’t isolated rewards. When a company's performance improves, all PSU holders benefit. In the collaborative environment of legal tech, this shared incentive fosters a collective spirit. Teams are not just working for individual goals; they're united in their pursuit of company-wide success.

5. Enhanced Problem-Solving Drive

Legal tech often requires navigating intricate challenges, where technological solutions must align seamlessly with legal requirements. PSUs, with their performance-centric approach, spur professionals to think outside the box, seeking innovative solutions that not only address immediate challenges but also drive company growth and, consequently, the value of their shares.

In the legal tech realm, PSUs have transcended their financial dimension to emerge as pivotal motivational tools. They inspire, they drive, and most importantly, they intimately link individual passion with the broader aspirations of the company.

Designing Effective PSU Programs for Legal Tech

The magic of Performance Share Units (PSUs) isn’t just in their existence but in their meticulous design. In the legal tech realm, where the balance of legal acumen and technological innovation is delicate, crafting an effective PSU program requires both strategy and insight. Here's how legal tech firms can design PSU programs that resonate:

Clarity in Performance Metrics

While it's essential for every industry, in legal tech, the alignment of performance metrics with the company's vision is paramount. Whether it’s reaching a product development milestone, ensuring legal compliance across platforms, or achieving a certain client integration rate, these metrics should mirror the unique goals of the firm.

Time-Based Vesting with Milestones

Given the often-prolonged development cycles in legal tech, it's vital to integrate time-based vesting with specific project milestones. This approach ensures professionals remain engaged and motivated throughout the lifecycle of a project, from inception to implementation.

Flexibility in PSU Adaptation

The legal tech world is ever-evolving. An effective PSU program should be adaptable, allowing for adjustments based on industry shifts, legislative changes, or technological advancements. This flexibility ensures that the program remains relevant and motivating, even in a shifting landscape.

Transparent Communication

Given the dual focus on law and technology, it's vital that employees understand not just the financial aspects of their PSUs but also how they align with the company's broader vision. Regular, transparent communication about PSU progress, potential adjustments, and vesting timelines fosters trust and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Holistic Integration with Other Benefits

While PSUs are powerful motivators, they should be integrated with a broader compensation and benefits package. Whether it's offering additional training for legal tech advancements, opportunities for further legal study, or even health and wellness benefits, PSUs should be a part of a holistic package that caters to the unique needs of legal tech professionals.

Feedback and Iteration

The first PSU program a legal tech firm designs might not be its last. It’s essential to create feedback loops, where employees can share their experiences, insights, and suggestions. This iterative approach ensures the program evolves, aligning more closely with both company objectives and employee aspirations.

Crafting a PSU program for the legal tech sector isn’t just about shares and vesting. It’s about understanding the unique challenges and aspirations of professionals at the intersection of law and technology. A well-designed program recognizes this confluence, fostering a space where motivation, engagement, and growth thrive in tandem.

How PSU Implementation Would Look Like in Top Legal Tech Firms

The implementation of Performance Share Units (PSUs) in the legal tech sector isn't just a theoretical concept. Several top-tier legal tech firms could have recognized the power of PSUs and incorporated them into their compensation packages. Here are three illustrative examples, based on some of the industry’s front-runners:

  1. Relativity: As a pioneering name in e-discovery software, Relativity's success isn't just rooted in its innovative technology but its ability to retain top-tier talent. By offering PSUs as a part of their compensation package, they create a powerful incentive for employees. Employees at firms like Relativity could see their efforts directly translate into the company's growth, knowing that milestones achieved could amplify the value of their shares. This, in turn, would promote dedication to excellence and an unwavering commitment to innovation.

  1. Everlaw: Known for its cloud-based litigation platform, Everlaw stands at the forefront of blending legal processes with technological efficiency. A PSU program at a company like Everlaw might be intricately tied to both product development milestones and client acquisition targets. With a direct line of sight between individual contributions and company growth, professionals would likely be motivated to drive continuous improvements in the platform, ensuring it remains a leader in its niche.

  1. Clio: As a leading legal practice management software provider, Clio’s journey has been one of consistent growth and innovation. Introducing PSUs into such an environment could serve dual purposes. Firstly, it would reward those contributing to its growth trajectory. Secondly, it could motivate teams to accelerate the development of new features, integrations, and partnerships. By aligning the potential for personal financial growth with company success, a firm like Clio could harness the full potential of its talent pool.

Each of these firms, while unique in its offerings and challenges, shares a common thread—the drive for innovation in the legal tech space. It’s by harnessing the power of PSUs that they stand to not only reward their employees but also create an environment where individual aspirations and company growth move in harmony.

Why RSUs Can Also Be a Catalyst of Employee Motivation and Engagement

While PSUs have gained traction for their performance-based attributes, Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) shouldn't be overlooked in the conversation about employee motivation and engagement. RSUs offer employees a guaranteed piece of the company's future, irrespective of specific performance metrics. This assurance fosters a sense of stability and belonging, making employees feel valued and connected to the company's long-term vision

Moreover, with RSUs, employees are intrinsically tied to the company’s overall success; as the company thrives, so does the value of its shares. This symbiotic relationship between individual and company success, facilitated by RSUs, enhances both motivation to perform and a deep-rooted engagement with the company's broader objectives.


In the rapidly evolving sector of legal tech, firms must innovate not just in products and services, but in how they attract and retain the brightest minds. PSUs and RSUs emerge as powerful tools in this endeavor, blurring the lines between individual success and company growth. Strategically integrating these share units into compensation packages can help legal tech firms ensure a motivated, engaged workforce, propelling the industry into its next phase of groundbreaking achievements.

Want a demo of how RSUs perform like PSUs? Reach out to Upstock today!

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