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Associates Survey: Unconventional Wisdom

It is that time of year when Biglaw associates gripe about or praise their employers to the editors of The American Lawyer for its annual associates survey. By the numbers, the most-satisfied associates can be found at the Washington, D.C., firm Dickstein Shapiro, which scored 4.585 out of a possible 5. The least satisfied associates are at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which earned a score of 3.065. Rankings are based on factors that include relations with partners and other associates, training and guidance, policy on billables, management openness, compensation and benefits, and retention.

But the rankings are hardly the most interesting news to come out of the survey. The headline is found in the introduction by The American Lawyer editor Aric Press, who observes that the survey dispels some of the conventional wisdom about associate life. For one, associates aren't miserable; the average satisfaction score hit a record high this year. For another, associates don't plan on staying put. Fewer than half expected to be at their firms in five years, and only 11.7 percent expected to become equity partners.

The biggest surprise is that there may not be enough associates to go around. The survey finds that the largest 200 law firms plan to hire 10,000 associates next fall. "That astonishing number equals about one-quarter of all the students who will graduate from U.S. law schools next year," Press writes. "To put it another way, the top 20 law schools will only produce about 6,500 graduates." That means, he says, that the war for talent will become more ferocious, and the cost of talent will go even higher than this year's notorious hike to $160,000. That adds up to one huge talent pool -- and one enormous payroll.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 1, 2007 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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