According to a National Association For Law Placement (NALP) and NALP Foundation joint study titled Law School Alumni Employment & Satisfaction, class of 2019 law school graduates actively seeking new jobs is at the historically low level of 13 per cent. This, the tenth such report focusing on US law schools, is reported in this article and includes information about diverse and first-generation graduates and data related to student debt, mobility, and experiential factors.
I am very pleased to read about this apparent workplace satisfaction. However, it occurs to me that there may be additional factors responsible for this unprecedented degree of content. Is it because some law firm managers and other legal space employers have loosened workplace requirements and increased flexibility to make young lawyers feel more welcome and appreciated? Is it because those changes in the workplace make it possible for young lawyers to navigate the responsibilities of both home and office more easily? Is it because the recent grads have become more realistic about what it means to be professionals after working from couches and coffee shops for so long during the pandemic? Or is it due to the pride they take in their accomplishments and the recognition of how much they have sacrificed to get where they are?
As one who has counseled many young lawyers over the course of a career, I hope that some of these additional factors, although more personal, also are responsible for the results reported in the NALP study. It is apparent to most observers that the profession of law is changing in many ways and at warp speed, and I am hopeful that many of those changes, as painful as they may seem at the time, will have lasting effects on job satisfaction.
When I chose the name “Best Friends at the Bar” for my project, that is what I had in mind. Best colleagues and friends to act as mentors and support systems to create the kind of job satisfaction that raises all boats. Maybe we are beginning to see the results of those efforts.