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Young lawyers view staying put as ‘career suicide’

Young lawyers view staying put as ‘career suicide’


A new study has shown that almost half of Millennials plan to change jobs within two years – and young lawyers are no different, according to legal recruiters.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that 46 per cent of Australian Millennials (those born after 1982) expect to leave their current employer in the next two years, compared with 44 per cent globally.

Moreover, only 19 per cent of Australian Millennials surveyed said they expect to stay with their current employer for more than five years, less than the global figure of 27 per cent.

This study incorporated responses from 7,700 tertiary-educated and employed Millennials aged up to 31 across 29 countries.

Millennials' restlessness is also apparent within the legal profession, according to Elvira Naiman, managing director at Naiman Clarke Legal.

“There is a feeling amongst that generation that staying anywhere for too long is career suicide,” she said. “We often see [Millennials] moving every 18-24 months.”

Kathryn Parry, a director at Taylor Root, said lawyers are not afraid to change employer to reach their ultimate career goal. 

"Lawyers at all levels are looking at the market and assessing if they can obtain better prospects, a higher salary or a larger brand that will provide bigger and more complex work," she said.

"Lawyers are very mobile and, with the recent surge in activity in international markets, many lawyers are looking to profit from this and relocate internationally."

Ms Naiman said young lawyers prefer employers who offer staff opportunities to learn and develop professionally through mentoring and high-quality work. They place value on firms “doing what they say they will do” and expect employers to understand that lawyers have a life outside the office, she said.

The study found that Millennials were more likely to stay in a job for longer if they felt a sense of purpose. In the Deloitte research, a sense of corporate purpose was important to 95 per cent of Millennials who stayed with an employer for more than five years.

Millennials are also seeking work that aligns with their personal values.

“Less than a generation ago, most professionals sought long-term relationships with employers, and the majority would never dream of saying ‘no’ to supervisors who asked them to take on projects,” said Deloitte COO David Hill.

“Millennials are more independent and more likely to put their personal values ahead of organisational goals. They are redefining professional success and proactively managing their careers.”

Ms Naiman said this was also true among young lawyers, who “want to know that their employer ‘does good’,  and has a strong social conscience leaning”.

“That’s not to say that they don’t understand that their employer also needs to make money,” Ms Naiman continued. “It’s just that they feel the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.”

While law firms “certainly don’t like” the fickleness of the Millennials, lawyers tend to settle down when they reach between four and five years' PQE, Ms Naiman said.

“This probably lines up with opportunities for promotion and the need to prove themselves either just before or just after promotion, say to associate or senior associate,” she said.  

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Young lawyers view staying put as ‘career suicide’
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