The drawbacks of high turnover in the legal industry

February 16, 2023

A 2020 study showed that 15 associates leave for every 20 new associated hired1. Among entry-level associates 46% of entry-level associates leave the firm in 3 years and 81% of entry-level associates leave the firm in 5 years. The high turnover is a problem resulting in $9.1 billion losses for some US law firms2.

Why is there high-turnover?

The legal industry is experiencing a high turnover at all times, however, it is worst after the pandemic. Why? Could it be the new work environment where employees are interested in working from home maybe more than in a physical office? Could be culture change? Could it be the needs of the current market? I think it is a bit of everything, but the major driver is “the culture”. 

Work-culture in law firm

The work culture does not limit itself to only working from home when employed by a law firm, for example.  But it has to do more with how people are being perceived and recognized in their legal job performance. 

Lawyers want to “be seen”

A burn out state in performance that lawyers experience more than employees in other industries is real in the legal industry.  Maybe millennials do have a point.  They want to “be seen”! Their efforts in their legal job should be valued even if their approach to their employment or how they complete their work in a law firm is new: personal expectations and demands that employees may have should be respected and welcomed while at the same time create expectations of job performance on the employer’s end.

1 – Weiss, Debra Cassens. “Law Firms Lost 15 Associates for Every 20 They Hired, NALP Foundation Study Finds.” ABA Journal. Accessed August 23, 2022.

2- “Top 400 US Law Firms Lose $9.1 Billion Due to Turnover.” Pamela DeNeuve, September 23, 2017.