Graduates, new lawyers reveal qualities they look for in workplaces

Graduates, new lawyers reveal qualities they look for in workplaces

18 October 2021 By Naomi Neilson
new lawyers

New research into what lawyers are primarily looking for in their workplaces has revealed that while communication and quality of leadership remain important for all new lawyers, qualities like pay and reward and diversity and inclusion take a hit as up-and-coming lawyers move on from their graduate positions.

According to new and exclusive research from Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with Momentum Intelligence, graduate lawyers consider salaries, support for wellbeing and diversity when considering their ideal workplace. As they move on, preferences are switched to qualities like career progression and recognition for performance.

Now in its seventh year, the Legal Firm of Choice survey not only ranks the Top 25 Attraction Firms but also asks lawyers to reflect on what they find important in the workplace and what their current employer is delivering. This year, there is a clear difference between what new lawyers want and what their firms offer.

When starting out, the research – using derived importance – indicates that graduates value communication, quality of leadership, and culture most. These three qualities are just as valuable for lawyers with less than one year of experience and those with between one and three.  

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Although pay and reward is ranked fourth for graduates, this quality is thought of last for lawyers with less than one years’ working experience. It jumps only a little bit for lawyers with one to three years of experience but is still outranked by values like support for mental wellbeing, career progression, and recognition for performance.

Career progression similarly starts off strong with graduates but eventually falls into the middle for new lawyers as they spend more time working. By the time a lawyer has reached the one to three years period, diversity and inclusion has also fallen.

Across the board, support for work-life balance has ranked low. Graduates ranked this last, while lawyers with less than one year experience and lawyers with between one and three rated it as one of their least valued qualities.

“We have seen some really interesting data from the Legal Firm of Choice this year,” Momentum Intelligence research strategist Oliver Stofka said. “One of the major revelations has been the idea that pay and reward is the main driver from legal professionals all the way through their career being disapproved to an extent.

“We’ve seen that the longer a legal professional is with a firm, the more their attention is swayed towards the intangible attributes surrounding leadership, recognition for individual performance, support for mental wellbeing and the attributes that make them feel more valued and healthy at work.”

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When considering what their current firm delivers, graduates and lawyers with less than one year of experience ranked support for work-life balance high. Firms similarly are ranked high for delivering culture and support for mental wellbeing.

Current firms were not rated high for communication, which was considered a high value for new lawyers. Career progression, quality of leadership and diversity and inclusion were similarly not rated highly for what current firms are delivering to graduates and lawyers with less than one year of experience.

For lawyers with one to three years of working experience, they rated their firms high for quality of leadership, diversity and equality, and support for mental wellbeing. All three levels also indicated that their current firms did not deliver on pay and reward.

Graduates, new lawyers reveal qualities they look for in workplaces
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