Only 25% of legal associates want to make partner in their firm within the next 5 years

LexisNexis Legal & Professional® released a new report – Disloyal lawyers: has the partnership model lost its lustre? – which reveals the majority of legal associates aren’t racing to take on the responsibilities, risks and potential rewards of partnership.  

A LexisNexis survey of 500+ law firm associates and senior leaders found only a quarter (25%) of legal associates aspire to make partner at their current firm within the next five years, and only 3% at another firm. Nearly half of leaders (49%) said they have noticed a decline in the number of associates aspiring to make partner, with only 19% disagreeing. This rises to 63% for leaders at large law firms. Most leaders accredited this shift in behaviour to a desire for a better work-life balance (71%).

However, associates expressed a strong sense of loyalty to their current firms. More than half (56%) of associates said they plan to be at their current firm in five years’ time. Only 12% said they plan to leave private practice for in-house, ALSPs, or academic career opportunities. Yet, the majority of leaders (72%) believe associates are less loyal than previous generations. This jumped to 81% when looking at responses from leaders at medium and large law firms.

Associates said they would be tempted to change firms for a better work-life balance and salary, at 71% and 69% respectively. Yet, when asked what would encourage them to stay put at their current firm, 70% said more money while only 36% said a better work-life balance.

The survey also revealed attracting and retaining talent to be one of the biggest challenges for law firms, with 69% of large law firm leaders citing this as their biggest challenge. Stuart Greenhill, Senior Director of Segment Strategy at LexisNexis, said:

“The current generation of workers are disruptors, not conformers. If they see something they don’t like, they’ll push back. To meet growth goals and retain a feasible talent pipeline, law firms will need to find a middle-ground. They cannot rely on what has worked well in the past, especially with the AI revolution well on its way,” says .

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