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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Half of young lawyers expect to change jobs in 5 years

Money, a lack of career progress, and a desire for a more balanced life is driving young lawyers to seek other jobs and even leaving the profession entirely.

(CN) — More than half of lawyers under 40 around the world expect to change their jobs in the next five years, either moving to another legal position or leaving the profession altogether, according to a report from the International Bar Association.

The most common reason young lawyers cite for wanting to change jobs is salary, according to the report released Monday. Other frequently cited reasons include difficulty balancing their professional and personal commitments and insufficient promotion opportunities.

The online survey of about 3,000 lawyers under 40 was conducted between April and August of 2020. The largest number of respondents were from the Asia Pacific region, followed by Europe and Latin America. Only 6% of the lawyers who took the survey were from North America.

A majority of the respondents, 54%, said they were highly or somewhat likely to move to a new job in the next five years. A third of the respondents expected to stay in the legal profession and 20% said they'd leave the profession entirely.

The findings are significant, according to the report, because a high turnover of young lawyers can cause disruptions of productivity and damage to client relationships.

"We need to understand why the profession is losing talent, what creates obstacles and areas of concern," the authors said. "For those who decide to stay, we must also understand whether they are lacking opportunity or satisfaction in their current roles and, ultimately, what changes should be made to create improved working conditions and reduce attrition rates."

Almost half of respondents, or 49%, said salary was the most significant reason for wanting to leave their current jobs. This was followed by concerns about a lack of progression in their current jobs, 38%, concerns over workload and work-life balance, 36%, as well as a desire to work abroad, 33%, and concerns about the impact of work upon their mental health and wellbeing, 28%.

Young solicitors, as opposed to in-house lawyers, were more concerned with work-life balance and mental well-being in their careers, whereas young in-house lawyers were more concerned with professional development and opportunities to work abroad, according to the report by the London-based organization.

The role of in-house legal departments has grown in recent years well beyond crisis management to being part of the wider decision making process of a corporation. As a result many more lawyers now work at in-house legal teams. In the U.K. alone, a quarter of all lawyers work in-house, three times as many as 20 years ago.

However, many young lawyers feel their careers at in-house legal departments are inhibited because they aren't many promotion opportunities as at a law firm, according to

"The more senior you get the less opportunities there appear to be," a female in-house counsel from Australia was quoted as saying in the report. "In-house counsel budgets means that companies will forgo experience over cost."

Female lawyers were disproportionately affected by barriers to career advancement, including direct discrimination, with 20% of women citing this as a factor, compared to 9% of men. Female lawyers also were more likely than their male counterparts to mention balancing commitments, the lack of mentorship and career guidance, and the lack of on-the-job assistance as factors hindering their progress.

"Women are more likely than men to seek work-life balance, flexibility and diversity," the report said. "For example, when evaluating the merits of a new role, almost 25% of young female professionals cited equal gender representation at management level, compared to only 4% of men."

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Categories / Business, Employment, International, Law

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