More disadvantages of low attrition rates in law departments

The other day the general counsel of a huge subsidiary bemoaned his department’s attrition rate of only about four percent per year. In this 400+-person group, he would actually like more people to turn over as he could then “refresh” the group (See my posts of June 24, 2007 on blaming the general counsel for high attrition;; Jan. 18, 2007 about the loss of top performers; March 4, 2007 on differentials in departure rates by levels; Dec. 12, 2006 on low attrition rates among UK departments; and June 24, 2007 on the career-path quagmire and the likelihood that some talented lawyers will leave the department.).

I have written about some of the consequences of low turnover rates (See my post of Oct. 12, 2006.). They include gray law departments, vitiated forced ranking, diminished succession planning and training, fewer policies in writing, and departures of younger stars. Other marks against low attrition rates include the following.

Stunted career progression. One lawyer’s career path clarifies because of another lawyer’s departure.

Rigid budget. After all, you can’t manage your internal budget very much if everyone stays in place, for the reason that compensation-related costs account for more than 75 percent of your spend (See my post of Jan. 27, 2008 on the 75% estimate.).

Intractable personality clashes. Sometimes insoluble issues between two people are resolved when one of the combatants leaves the department.

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