A long and growing list of studies have documented the importance of training and professional development to attorney satisfaction. Now, results from a new study on lateral attorneys conducted by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP - Foundation for
Research and Education), send a strong message to law firm managers that training has a direct and important impact on their ability to recruit and retain top-notch attorneys.
The study, entitled The Lateral Lawyer: Why They Leave and What May Make Them Stay, involved approximately 2,000 law firm associates who graduated from 1989 to 1999 and who made lateral moves to their current law firms between January 1999 and March 2000. According to NALP, "this benchmark study is designed to reveal fundamental knowledge about:
- The primary and secondary influences on the decisions of lawyers to change jobs including the role of practice interests, financial incentives, work/life balance priorities, work environment characteristics, and professional and career development needs;
- The perceptions of laterally hired attorneys about how their new (current) employers are meeting their expectations for assimilation, marketing of the lawyer to clients, compensation and more;
- The relative degree of loyalty or anticipated longevity of lateral lawyers as they report their own expectations for tenure; and
- How law firms recruit and hire lateral lawyers, including the role of referrals, self-initiated contact, search consultants; law firm lateral hiring criteria and selectivity; and lateral hiring incentives."
According to the NALP study, 75% of the associates said that professional development was the primary reason they had made a lateral move into their current law firm. Associates working for larger firms of 501 or more attorneys placed even greater weight on the importance of professional development--84% said it was the primary reason they left their old firm. The responses were consistent across all respondent categories, which included men, women and minorities.
In addition to professional development, associates cited practice area interests (63.5%), financial incentives (57%), and work environment (25%), as the next greatest factors behind their decision to change jobs. Interestingly, only 25% of associates said issues related to work-life balance played an important role in their decision to leave.
The NALP report contains other useful information such as findings on the ways in which lateral associates initiated their job changes, the extent to which they were hired as part of a group or on an individual basis, their level of satisfaction with their new jobs, and the extent to which they expect to stay put for the foreseeable future. For the executive summary and further information click here. For the full report, call NALP at 202.667.1666 or e-mail your request to email@example.com.