Calling All Senior Associates!

In a surprising development in law firm world, senior associates are suddenly in high demand — a real change from even a year ago.  We all recognize that associates become more valuable as they gain experience and climb law firm ladders, but this is something different.  Now senior associates are especially sought after outside their firms as laterals, according to an article in the American Lawyer earlier this week.

Being the subject of lateral hiring changes the game for associates.  It puts experienced associates at the heart of the bargaining process like never before.  An associate recruiter at Major, Lindsey & Africa, as quoted in the American Lawyer and reported by Above the Law, attributes this market shift to the the lack of training for associates during the pandemic, which has created a need at firms for associates with transferable skills.  Firms are desperate for senior associates who can run a deal or a case without much supervision.  And it seems that associates with 6 years or more experience are taking advantage of that opportunity.

Here’s the Above the Law article.  Check it out and share with your friends.  Some of you may want to dust off your resumes and test the lateral market.

It is so nice to be wanted!

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More on A Possible BigLaw Associate Exodus

Last week I blogged on women in BigLaw and the option of in-house practice.  This week I am continuing on that theme.  My updated information, however, is not limited to women attorneys but also predicts an exodus of BigLaw associates within the next year.  This prediction, from the legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), as reported on Above The Law, is based on a survey of 300 BigLaw associates.  The results showed that 1 in 4 are planning to leave in that time frame and that 3 out of 5 are disappointed that that their firms aren’t working hard enough to retain them.  The explanation from MLA is as follows:

Firms have been, on a numerical basis, able to retain more associates than they bargained for because the market has been down.  But since [the second quarter of 2023], things have been better in the markets where [we] recruit.

This prediction is also based on information about practice areas that appear to be in revival mode.  According to MLA, examples are M&A, general corporate, litigation, white collar, and labor and employment.  In other words, major practices are doing very well, which is very good news, and it opens up opportunities for relocation.

So it appears that the ball is in the BigLaw management and leadership court.  It will take some TLC and effort to keep associates from bolting in mass in this reinvigorated market, but that should not be too difficult for top lawyers to figure out.  If they need any help in discovering what associate lawyers want, they always can read my books!

For more background, see this article from Above The Law.




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What Are Women Lawyers Thinking Today about Professional Opportunity?

There may be some good news for women lawyers.  According to a survey reported in a recent article on Above The Law, women general counsels are making an average of 8% more in salary than their male counterparts.  That is something significant for women lawyers to consider when contemplating employment options.  And, yes, this past summer has been referred to as the “Summer of Female Empowerment” at the box office with the likes of the Barbie movie meeting with more popularity and acceptance by female audiences than I ever would have predicted.

But, female empowerment in BigLaw is still moving at snail’s pace, and only 23 percent of equity partners in law firms today are women.  So, the comparison becomes 77 points for men at law firms versus 108 per cent for women in the offices of general counsel in the business world.  Or so it seems.  And that alone might make a woman lawyer look seriously at the options outside of law firms.

However, we all know that salary is not a stagnant number.  Once equity partnership is achieved in BigLaw, or even salary partnership for that matter, the roles are reversed and the general counsels become the proverbial salary snails.  However, the road to equity partnership can be a rocky one for women attorneys, and comparisons are hard to make.

Even today, women lawyers face persistent issues of inequity, discrimination and baby penalties that should have been eliminated years ago.  Experiences reported by recruiters in articles like this one  include the “old saws” like the indignities of assuming that women lawyers will take the meeting notes and get the coffee to treating the genders unequally and presuming that males are  more qualified to be relied upon as lawyers.  As if this is not enough to make the case for immediate reforms, those articles also include examples of harsh and derogatory language used about and to women lawyers after they announce that they are pregnant and when they come back to resume their schedules after maternity leave.  I started writing books and giving speeches to advocate for women lawyers in 2007, and I would not have predicted that this kind of behavior still would persist in 2023.

My hope is that leaders in law firms will wake up one of these days, give up this childish behavior, and start doing more of the right thing on behalf of women in the profession.  For their sake, I hope it happens before there is a mass exodus to general counsels offices where the money currently comes with the message that women lawyers are valued.

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Are Recent Law School Grads More Content Than Ever in Their Jobs?

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.




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OCI is Not the Only Show in Town Any More. Meet PRECRUITMENT.

Something new is in the works when it comes to law school recruitment.  For law students who have relied on “On Campus Interviews”, there is now an option in the works.  Maybe  we  all should have seen it coming during uncertain times for law firms as the economy remains uncertain.  Hiring is down, but there is still a demand for top talent.

The following two articles are instructive.  This article  is an important harbinger for all law students seeking summer positions in Big Law and presents the concept of “prerecruiting, and this article is an update on summer associate positions, which turn out to be less of a guarantee of permanent hire after graduation.

The new “Precruiting” scheme seems like a power play from firms under the guise of allowing law students to lock in summer positions early and have more time to concentrate on their studies.  How benevolent.  I guess it has nothing to do with competition and wanting to “one up” other firms participating in traditional On Campus Interviews.

Although I understand the constraints that law firms are experiencing, I still value not using law students as pieces on a chess board.  It seems to me to be a bit disingenuous to pretend to care about the well-being of potential hires in the beginning and then throw them to the side at the end.

Decide for yourself.  And plan accordingly.

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What’s Happening With RTO and Hybrid Work At Law Firms?

As pointed out in one of the sources below, September marks a kind of reset for law practice.  More relaxed summer schedules are behind, and it is “back to work.”  But, what is that likely to look like this particular September?  The quote below, from Above the Law, gives us one perspective from a law firm consultant and should give law firm management some degree of pause.

Law firms are different from other businesses—they just are. Lawyers don’t want to be told what to do and when to do it.

We are professionals. We know that if we want to be in that office with our colleagues then that office is doing a good job.

[A]nything that is an unnecessary order can create resentment.

— Law firm consultant Alexa Ross, in comments given to the American Lawyer on the concept of “core” hours within law firms operating with hybrid work policies. Lawyers should “look forward” to coming to the office, she said, rather than being required to do so. “That increases productivity tremendously,” Ross said, “it also decreases attrition.”

And the following article adds insight into the responsibility of law firm managements in meeting the challenges of changing times after the pandemic upended much of what law firm managements believed in.

Captioned as “Did Labor Day Make A Difference For The Legal Profession?”, the article explores how the pandemic changed how work was accomplished, the meaning of “hybrid work”, and how law firms of the future are going to be different, including the impact of AI, and recommendations for management on dealing with the reluctance of lawyers to return to the office and the importance of the impact on productivity and how that impacts the various players.

One of the concepts addressed, “Colleague Connect”, is not on my list of favored methodologies.  A little too Big Brother for me!  I think we can do better.


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Why are Women Lawyers Leaving Law Firms?

Have you ever wondered why women lawyers leave law firm jobs?  It is written about a lot, and sometimes over-inflated statistics accompany those articles.  It also is often reported that women lawyers leave their jobs because they prefer to stay at home with their children.  But is that correct, or do women lawyers leave law firm jobs because of the failures of law firm policies to address their challenges?

It is an interesting question, and my interaction with young women lawyers leads me to believe that they enjoy working.  The problem is that law firms still need a lot of help understanding the challenges for young women lawyers and how to address those challenges as incentives for women to stay on those jobs.  I have written a lot about that in my work at Best Friends at the Bar, including on this Blog, and I know how complicated it can be.

Here is a recent article that addresses the issues to help you decide how you would answer the question:  Why do women lawyers leave their law firm jobs?


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All That Appears Helpful …. Well You Know The Rest

Ah, the age of technology.  There are so many “aids” out there in the ether to make the lives of legal practitioners easier, and it is so hard to keep up.  One of those new wave programs in particular caught my eye this week. has a new legal dashboard program that gives law firm partners a “snapshot view” of  all activity across matters and associates. 

Sounds promising and efficient, doesn’t it?  Associates and partners in constant, on-demand contact re legal matters, schedules, etc, including how busy associates are.  It all boils down to numbers, and there is no personal contact to get in the way of all that efficiency.  AND the presumption could be that it benefits associates to make sure that they are busy, as partners know they want to be.

Is that the way it sounds to you?  Cuz it sounds a little too Big Brother to me.  It sounds a little too intrusive with the potential to promote insecurity and competition.  But, then, I admit to have started out in practice before computers managed EVERYTHING.  Before people in adjoining offices e-mailed each other instead of speaking.  Before texting was a form of professional communication. Before computers tracked when lawyers were actively engaged in work.  And, as a lawyer, writer and communicator, there are some things about the good old days that I miss —- as well as a lot that I do not.

Although I understand progress, I also understand the importance of human elements in personal service industries.  I understand how critical it is to experience your audience in a personal way and evaluate your performance based on how you are being perceived and received.  I particularly understand how such personal evaluation relates to the ability to engage new clients and new matters and be persuasive in the courtroom and the boardroom.

So, are we throwing some of the babies out with the bathwater with this new-age approach?  Make up your own mind.

Maybe the most obvious Artificial Intelligence is not all you have to worry about.


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