March 10, 2008
A recent study from Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession, working with the American Bar Association, has found that big law firms are steadily hemorrhaging nearly 50% of their young associates – and most are leaving of their own accord. Ben W. Heineman, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School describes this trend to be, in many ways, a fault of the business-oriented nature of the modern firm which provides young associates with neither the practical responsibility nor learning opportunities vital to their professional development. Furthermore overly ambitions senior associates and over-worked partners rarely give young associates personal mentoring and assistance, depriving these lawyers of the overall sense of firm strategy and support. Clients themselves may be to blame as they are unwilling to devote resources to young and inexperienced lawyers. This results in a vicious cycle where young lawyers feel unappreciated and bored whereas firms decline to give them opportunities since they will be leaving the firm anyway.
Heineman makes a number of suggestions including increased commitment to firm pro bono and public interest programs designed to give associates hands-on experience. More face time with partners and more experienced personnel would also aid associates in feeling connected to the firm, as opposed to feeling like “generators of “rates x hours” for annual revenue models.” To read more from about these views, please click here. Note, you must register for this online publication in order to view the content.