To invest in associates is to suffer from the high attrition rates of law firms

It sounds shrewd to have partners leverage work to associates, and it makes sense for a law department to use a core team of a partner and a handful of associates. The logic of both policies falters, however, when associates who are trained and experienced in a company’s legal needs leave their firm. The Legal Recruitment World in 2007, released recently by the international legal recruitment firm Laurence Simons, brings some reality to this worry.

“A survey of the top 25 [UK law] firms by Price Waterhouse Coopers at the close of 2006 found that 40% of them admitted losing as many as a quarter of their 3-5 year qualified people every year.” With that pace of brain drain, from the finest law firms no less, it is no wonder law departments are wary of placing their professional trust in junior lawyers (See my post of Feb. 8, 2006 about complaints over associates’ rates; and April 30, 2006 about disinclinations to pay for young associates.).

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