Law students don’t want to be lawyers, survey finds

Firms need to boost effective mentoring to keep young lawyers engaged, according to the Women Lawyers Association.

Law students don’t want to be lawyers, survey finds
Seeking to measure the effectiveness of initiatives targeting diversity, the Women Lawyer’s Association of NSW has found that only 61 per cent of law students want to practice as lawyers.

According to association president Lee-May Saw, mentoring matters relevant to engagement is fundamental to the success of any mentoring program.  Effective mentoring, she said, should be an area of emphasis for firms.

“Initiatives and programs targeting diversity should be responsive to the intersection of gender, ethnicity, age of lawyers, and regional versus metropolitan work environments,” she said.

“The need for quality initiatives targeting wellbeing and mental health of lawyers, including initiatives that take into account the origins of stress and pressure on lawyers from the time they are at law school and the developments of sources of stress and pressure on lawyers throughout the duration of their careers.”

“When considered in the context of the current employment market for law graduates, the Career Intentions Survey Report points to a real need for initiatives, policies, practices and programs to be reviewed starting from when students are studying law at university,” she added.

Twenty-eight per cent of lawyers were not sure whether they wanted to practice as a lawyer and 11 per cent said they didn’t want to practice.  Women were more likely to study law because of an interest in social justice, while men were more likely to study due to good income or having an interest in government or politics.

The study surveyed 1,403 students across NSW who were either in their final year or undertaking practical legal training.
“Research such as the 2013 national Survive Law survey indicates that the numbers of students who intend to practice as a lawyer decrease from the first year to final stages of law school,” said Saw.

“Both the Career Intentions Survey and the 2013 national Survive Law survey suggests that a lack of information about the skills required to practice as a lawyer and a lack of access to work experience opportunities may be influencing the numbers of students intending to practice as a lawyer.”

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