Blocking the Exits?


Do law firms need to block the exit doors to stop associate attrition? Should they keep raising associate salaries so that other options become uncompetitive? In the long run, I’m not sure that higher salaries will keep unhappy associates from seeking alternatives to the large firms; though in my experience, these increases certainly make other options look less attractive. I know this first hand because recruiting for smaller firms has become more difficult.

Ironically, there are much less expensive ways to slow associate departures. If firms could communicate better with associates, give them more meaningful context about their assignments and simply pay more attention to their professional development, then attrition would slow. These and other good suggestions from two law school professors (one who has worked in-house and currently with a large firm.)

These authors focus mainly on professional development as the key to retention. But clearly, work/life balance is a major issue that firms also need to address. There are a lot of talented associates who want sophisticated work, but not at all costs. The accounting industry has found ways to make this a reality. The legal community needs to crack this nut as well. One option is to adopt the model proposed by Deborah Epstein Henry of Flextimelawyers.

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