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Attrition in law departments and consequences of it

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.).

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