A third of junior associates plan to leave in two years or less

And one in ten say they won’t even be practicing law

A third of junior associates plan to leave in two years or less
A third of junior associates intend to leave their law firms in two years or less, a new study has revealed.

While nearly 18% of all junior associates surveyed by Above the Law and Major, Lindsey and Africa said they are set on making partnership at their firms, 33.33% said they plan to leave in one to two years, while 41.18% said they expect to stay for five to seven years.

When associates reach mid-level positions, there is a huge jump in those eyeing partnership as the figure jumps to 44.44%. Meanwhile, 17.18% said they plan to leave in one to two years, 22.22% in three to five years, and 15.56% in five to seven years.

Asked what they saw themselves doing in 10 years, 33.93% said they will be partners at their current firm, 9.71% said they will be partners at other firms, 18.75% said they will be in-house counsel, and 16.28% said they will be working in the government or in a non-profit organisation. Running their own firm or practice, or working at a boutique or small firm, garnered 6.25%.

None said they saw themselves working in legal academia and 8.82% said they do not see themselves practicing law in 10 years’ time.

More than 1,200 lawyers responded to the survey. Nearly 43% were mid-level associates practicing for three to five years while 34.5% were junior associates practicing for one to two years and 13.6% were senior associates with more than six years in the profession.

Associates put more weight on firm culture and on work-life balance than on compensation, practice strength, location, prestige, and training, the study found.

Analysing culture, Above the Law and Major, Lindsey and Africa found that the most important consideration when deciding about a potential employer was commitment to fostering work-life balance for employees, followed by commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce, and corporate social responsibility and progressive family-friendly policies, which both were tied. However, the massive variance spread for “commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce” means that significant proportions of respondents value diversity and inclusion either very highly or hardly at all.

Asked whether they considered firm brands, or its external perception, when choosing firms, 47.81% said it was a secondary consideration while 26.32% said it was a primary consideration. 25.88% said it was not a factor in their choice.

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