Law Firm work quality – or lack thereof – is the main reason associates leave firms, a new survey shows.
Should we be surprised?
The survey from the NALP FOundation for Law Career Research and Education surveys 128 law firms in the United States and Canada and we dare say that exactly the same result would be found in the UK and other jurisdictions.
Although the attrition rate dropped to 16 per cent, there was a major cost with losing an associate of between $200,000 and $500,000, the recruiters involved in the survey reported.
While associates will always be required to handle routine work, they generally wish to handle more substantive work to achieve the challenge and to demonstrate their knowledge, the survey report authors note.
While law firms can provide substantive opportunities through pro bono programs and trial advocacy programs and they also try to ensure clients have contact with them, but it does not appear to be enough for many.
Dissatisfaction with the work quality – which often means the tedious work that so many lawyers simply want to forget and leave behind – will see them leave.
The second principal reason for departure is the desire to practice a specialty or to at least pursue some interest in a more specialised area of law, rather than finding themselves “pigeonholed” in a specific area.
Law Firm Suggestions
What are the suggestions for law firms – the report authors suggest –
• Developing a work coordination system to balance associate work flow in slow and busy times.
• Ensure new associates feel welcome by helping with introductions
• Provide meaningful and regular training, along with mentoring from senior lawyers.
• Outline a defined and clear path to partnership and promotion, as well as the compensation structure adopted by the firm.
• Minimize associate contact with difficult partners.
Law firm challenges are numerous, but one that is clear and present is the need to retain associates at a higher level than is currently the case.