September 30, 2003

Changing Trends: Associates Not Hot on Making Partner?

Now here's an interesting article, "Associates Giving Up On Partnership". It outlines a generational shift in attitudes, and cites a NALP Foundation survey's results in which large numbers of associates are bailing on law firms before being considered for partnership.

[In my best Family Feud voice] "The Survey Says:"
(Note: I haven't seen the study itself, only the summary per the article, quoted below:)

"By their sixth year, only about a third of associates were still with the firms they joined from law school, according to the study, which surveyed law firms and associates in 35 cities. Of those associates who left, less than half moved to another law firm."
So let's do the math per above, assuming for sake of argument it's accurate, and let's use a pool of 100 associates to keep the percentages easy (rounded to the nearest associate):

1/3 stayed, and 2/3 of new associates left their first firm within 6 years.
Scorecard: 33 stayed, 67 left the firm within 6 years.

Less than half of those who left moved to another firm: 1/2 x 67 = 33
Scorecard: 33 stayed, less than 33 went to another firm, and more than 33 went to a non-law firm.

As a member of the third category, I can say that I completely understand this trend. After all, I did the same thing back in the mid-90's. On a personal level, it was the most difficult decision I've ever made. Sometimes, I think about practicing again (I still maintain my law license and earn far more than the minimum required CLE credits each year). But, frankly, I'm having too much fun being a legal technology consultant, author, and speaker. How many practicing lawyers can honestly say that about what they do?

It sounds to me that these associates just want to do their thing.

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard