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2007 American Lawyer Midlevel Associate Survey Results

The results of the 2007 American Lawyer Midlevel Associate Survey are in and they are not much different than last year, at least as far as turnover.

As before, 55.1% of associates predicted that they would leave their current firms within five years. Only 11.7% expected that they would become equity partners at their current firm. To be sure, it is true that law firms count on most associates eventually leaving in order to keep their partnership ranks trim and profits high. However, according to NALP figures cited in the survey report, firms report that 51% of associate departures every year are unwanted. Additionally, the associates are leaving too early --before firms are able to recoup their investment in each associate in terms of recruitment and training.

The good news for associates is that it remains a "buyer's" market. According to ALM's survey of summer associate hires, Am Law 200 firms expect to bring on roughly 10,000 associates this fall. That number equals about one-quarter of all the students who will graduate from U.S. law schools next year.

Given this market, firms need to distinguish themselves for candidates. Since most law firms march "lockstep" in terms of compensation, this leaves areas such as work life balance programs (e.g., flextime arrangements, telecommuting, sabbaticals, etc.) as an area where firms can stand out from the pack.

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