The International Bar Association finds that most young lawyers will leave the firm or the industry within the next five years

Almost half of young lawyers who told the IBA they were likely to leave their current position cited salary as the most important reason.

Workplace culture is an issue

Workplace culture concerns also scored highly, with work-life balance cited as a major push factor by more than 60% of young lawyers and 71% of those aged 25 or over. less.

“Expecting an associate to bill 2,000+ hours and regularly attend networking events to promote themselves or reach new clients is unrealistic,” said one interviewee.

Younger legal guns also pointed to toxic workplace cultures as a factor driving them away from the legal industry, with women and lawyers in their early 20s showing more concern about the inability to address these issues than men and those in their late thirties.

Women also consistently reported more barriers to career progression than men, including direct discrimination, lack of mentoring and guidance, poor job support, and difficulty balancing commitments.

“The profession is too conservative and older lawyers don’t understand the concept of active mentorship despite several conversations about it,” said one respondent.

Career Options

Other factors driving young lawyers to leave their jobs include a desire to work abroad, fear that the work will harm their mental health and well-being, and interest in other professions. of the legal sector.

The IBA report called for more proactive policies around work-life balance in companies and for employers to put in place structures that protect juniors from unreasonable hours at least some of the time.

“Long or anti-social working hours are a key feature of working in the legal profession, and no firm or institution can be expected to promise young lawyers that they will never be subjected to periods of intense demands on their time,” the report said. .

“[But] young lawyers in particular need to be protected from unreasonable demands by clients or senior management within firms, which can deprive young lawyers of the opportunity to work realistic or healthy numbers of hours in a way that may often be indistinguishable from workplace bullying.

In terms of the pull factors to a new role, more than 70% of respondents said salary was an “attractive” reason to change roles.

More than half said they were attracted to workplaces that promote a healthy work-life balance, 34.8% wanted a greater variety of work and 32% wanted overseas travel opportunities .

Young lawyers said they also looked at staff retention rates, professional development support and flexible work options when considering new employers.

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