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Wall Street Journal Explores Retention Problems at Large Law Firms

The Wall Street Journal has launched a new column called The FLaw, which will focus on law firm management; in its own words: "the miscues, peculiarities and strange customs of law firms."

In an excellent first article, columnist Ashby Jones explores the reasons behind the increasing percentage of law firm associates who are quitting their jobs after the third year. One recent study by the NALP Foundation (which studies law firm hiring trends and practices) found that a whopping 37 percent of associates at big law firms (defined by the study as those employing more than 500 lawyers), quit their firms by the end of their third years of practice.

This exodus poses economic difficulties for law firms who, according to other studies, don't start recouping their cash flow investment in an associate until about midway through an associate's fourth year, around the time most start acquiring the skill and confidence to run their own cases and deals.

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