For most law departments, the turnover rate of lawyers is much lower than that of employees elsewhere in the company. Even so, we hear quite a bit about lawyer departures, voluntarily or otherwise. Some posts here on this blog look at departure metrics (See my post of March 4, 2007: differentials in departure rates by levels; Dec. 12, 2006: low attrition rates among UK departments; Aug. 2, 2006 #1: US employee turnover; Oct. 12, 2006: low turnover rates in-house; and Feb. 25, 2009: seven percent and upwards.).
Reasons why lawyers leave departments can be positive – to accept a promotion elsewhere, follow a spouse, or shift to the business side – or they can be negative, such as under-performance, a merger, decline of a company, or a lousy boss (See my post of June 24, 2007: mismanagement is key cause of attrition; Dec. 19, 2007: inevitable loss of some talented lawyers; and Jan. 16, 2009: layoffs after mergers with 9 references.).
Whatever the reason a lawyer leaves, there are consequences of turnover (See my post of June 24, 2007: likelihood that some talented lawyers will leave the department; May 14, 2005: turnover costs of lawyers who leave; June 12, 2005: minimize losses from retirement; June 15, 2005: financial drawbacks of attrition; Jan. 30, 2006: Purdue Pharma turned to contract lawyers after job losses; Jan. 18, 2007: loss of top performers; Aug. 24, 2005: value of exit interviews; Jan. 18, 2008: general counsel are concerned about losing top performers; and Feb. 7, 2008: more disadvantages of low turnover.).