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Midlevel associate survey: Where's the love?

Three bloggers have weighed in on the recent American Lawyer midlevel associate survey, with the kind of comprehensive responses that make a good business case for reading blogs, even for the busiest law firm partner.

Let's begin with Bruce MacEwen, who compares the AmLaw survey with a recent BusinessWeek piece on recruiting the best people. MacEwen, who never minces words, dives below the survey response in what I read as an attempt to communicate to BigLaw, bottom-line, why they should care that associates say working for these firms, well, stinks:

"As hierarchies flatten, corporations become more global, and competition intensifies, who can afford to skimp on developing talent?  Yet these are some of the things associates had to say:  A mentor delivering "feedback" "just yells at me."  "It is easier to hack into the CIA computer network than to learn about executive committee decisions that affect everyone."   After pulling all-nighters, one's reward is to have partners demand immediate changes to the work without explanation.

"Can the associates be partly to blame for not taking the initiative?  Consider:  "One Proskauer Rose midlevel brought to her last semiannual review a wish list that included requests for more writing and deposition experience and a mentor for business development skills. They kind of laughed and said, 'You shouldn't be worried about [these things]' at my level. It was frustrating: It was like talking to dead air,' she says."

There's more -- and MacEwen does some further noodling on the topic, pulling in the London market, with his post the very next day, Big Firm Blues.

The Wired GC picks up this thread from the perspective of a big client who wonders where these chickens are coming home to roost. He writes:

"Since midlevel associates are often regular service providers for many law firms, I do cringe when I think that those entries on the monthly invoice represent clock-fixated young lawyers who resent their firm's partners. What do they think about the firm's clients? Am I part of the problem? Are my legal needs addressed with optimism and client-orientation? Or is matter X just something else to gut out so you can leave by 10 p.m.?

He concludes:

"How long can law firms continue to meet their challenges by raising rates and hourly targets?

"The survey says: perhaps not much longer." More

No, perhaps not, given the incentives to go solo. Blogger Carolyn Elefant weighs in on that front, noting (as she has many times before) that while BigLaw is a great way to get your feet under you and some bills paid, there's plenty of moolah and plenty more satisfaction in hanging out your own shingle. Read her insights in The Other Side of Biglaw Salaries.

Posted by Product Team on October 6, 2005 at 03:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


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