Why Young Lawyers Are Uncertain About Their Legal Future

By on June 29, 2016


A major report on the experiences of young lawyers has shown there is plenty of work to do to retain young lawyers entering the profession.

The report, which was funded by the Law Foundation and supported by the New Zealand Law Society, surveyed over 800 junior lawyers in a first-of-its-kind look at what young lawyers think of their legal jobs and the profession they entered.

>>  Check the latest New Zealand law jobs here

pembertonAuthored by Josh Pemberton (left), a law graduate himself, involved 40 hour-long interviews.


“It was important to fund this study to provide a baseline of solid information rather than anecdotes. Using this research, the profession can consider ways to better prepare and retain the best young talent entering the profession,” said Law Foundation Director Lynda Hagen.


Legal employers, and the profession as a whole, face competition to retain junior practitioners, many of whom are still making up their mind about their professional futures

Law Job Satisfaction

The report looked a variety of areas of ‘satisfaction’ including work-life balance, remuneration, retention, the effectiveness of legal education, and the experience of junior women lawyers.

In a Law Society press release, NZLS president Kathryn Beck said:  “What has been anecdotal has now been backed up by some firm research. Our legal profession has the chance to consider ways in which new lawyers can be better prepared for their work and how they can receive better support and assistance in developing their careers.”



“The profession needs to think hard about some of the findings. Seven out of 10 of the new lawyers surveyed found being a lawyer was highly or moderately stressful. The balance between work and life, along with remuneration has to be considered. And two-thirds of junior women lawyers felt their gender had a negative impact on their prospects.”

The experiences and retention of junior practitioners must be understood in the context of what is often a challenging transition from university to practice

“Positively, the majority of junior lawyers who participated were satisfied with their work. What the report says, however, is that there are several areas where employers and the whole profession can and must change if they want to ensure that new lawyers are better encouraged, mentored and supported.

“The people who participated in the research are within their first five years as lawyers. They are the future of our profession. It is essential that we listen to their views and experiences and look at how we can change to give them a better pathway on their journey to becoming the profession’s leaders.”

Lawyers in 5 Years?


Job Satisfaction

There are significant informational problems in the market for graduate legal jobs


>>  Check the full report here


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