THE RESULTS of the newly released Lawyers Weekly student survey show that financial reward features low on the list of important aspects of a future career in the law, when compared to job satisfaction and personal happiness.
Attendees at the Sydney Law Careers Fair in March were asked to fill out a short Lawyers Weekly survey as they entered the large hall. Though eager to attend to the main attraction on the day — the throng of predominantly law firm stalls set up to entice eager young potential employees — students were happy to offer some insight into their own expectations, interests, and future plans.
As part of the survey, law students at all levels of their degrees were asked which particular firm they were there to see, what they hoped to earn as a graduate, how much time they expected to spend with partners and clients, and whether, in fact, law was what they really wanted to do.
The results, which are often surprising, reveal a great deal about what firms need to be doing to attract and retain the elusive Generation Y.
As part of the survey, students were asked to rank three facets to a career that mattered to them most, from a list of eight possibilities.
Job satisfaction was far and away the winner, receiving 34.36 per cent of the available points. As one student said: “It is not worth doing if you have no job satisfaction”.
Another suggested that “job satisfaction will achieve everything else”.
Still another said: “if I’m not satisfied with the job, I wouldn’t be happy spending long hours at it”.
Overwhelmingly, students wrote that enjoying what they do every day is the best reward. Next came personal happiness, ranking 19.23 per cent in order of importance.
The results show that students believe contentment with the role, and the corresponding pleasure that should bring, is far more important than cash, reputation or networking.
“Work is a large part of life and personal happiness is an essential requirement for life,” one respondent said. Another added: “If you don’t have this then you can’t appreciate anything else”. Career advancement sat in third position with 13.7 per cent, beating money at 10.9 per cent, which in turn only narrowly edged out good personal reputation at 9.49 per cent.
One student, who chose money above all else, explained his choice rather succinctly when he said: “To buy things, rent home”. Another in search of a large pay was after “financial stability”.
Of a lesser concern were the ability to travel (7.3 per cent), the chance to make friends (2.68 per cent) and the opportunity to network (2.23 per cent).
See the rest of the Lawyers Weekly report into law students in the following pages. .
Additional reporting by Clare Buttner, Shaun Drummond and Kate Gibbs