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Are Midlevel Biglaw Associates on the Endangered Species List?

As we head into 2007, seems that midlevel Biglaw associates who've reached that three to five year "sweet spot" (old enough to work independently, young enough to take orders) in the law firm hierarchy are well on their way to becoming an endangered species. At least, that's the thrust of this article, "Lawyers, Fun & Money:  Brain Drain Hits Major Law Firms," by Saira Rao, New York Post (12/31/06). The article reports that young gen-X attorneys in their third to fifth year are walking away from their high-paid position in record numbers. And in some cases, they're so disillusioned with life at Biglaw that they don't even have another job lined up. From the article:

The exodus of law firm associates is unprecedented, according to the National Association of Law Placement, or NALP, which found that 37 percent of associates leave large firms within the first three years. A whopping 77 percent of associates leave within five years, according to NALP's latest survey.

And the departure of these attorneys is finally causing alarm within law firm ranks. According to the article, some partners are taking on this work to compensate, while others are (horrors!) hiring from second-tier law schools. Moreover, firms invest considerable sums of money to train associates, an investment that is lost when associates later defect.

The article diagnoses the problem, but doesn't offer much in the way of solutions. So readers, I turn to you:  Is brain drain a problem at Biglaw, and if so, how can firms fix it?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 2, 2007 at 07:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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