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Lawyer Talk: Young Lawyers and Legal Jobs Outlook

June 22, 2022 0 Comments

With reports young lawyers are looking to leave their legal jobs in the near future, what does this mean more broadly for the sector?

In January 2022, the International Bar Association (IBA) published some survey results about legal jobs that may have caused some law firm partners to lose a little sleep.

Of the 3000 young lawyers (under the age of 40) surveyed, 54 per cent said they were somewhat likely or highly unlikely to move to a new workplace, 33 per cent wanted to move to a different area of the profession and 20 per cent were considering leaving the profession altogether.

With even our highest paying jobs at the moment, many lawyers ask us about the various other conditions such as working hours, flexibility in their work and a supportive team to empower them.

Daniel Cappellacci, Legal Division Principal, Gorilla Jobs

Some of the key findings taken from responses collected to compile the IBA Young Lawyers Report also revealed important insights for both firms and legal recruiters about how young lawyers feel about their professional lives.

The broader findings included:

  • Lack of work-life balance concerns more than 60 per cent of young lawyers (greatest for lawyers 25 and under at 71 per cent). Sixty-six per cent of female lawyers and 68 per cent of solicitors also find work-life balance a concern;
  • Solicitors are more likely to cite work-life balance and mental health issues than in-house counterparts;
  • Ninety per cent of young lawyers reported experiencing barriers to career progression;
  • The failure to address toxic workplaces concerns 44 per cent of the 25 and under compared to 28 per cent of the 36–40 age group;
  • Salary is the most-cited factor pushing young lawyers out of current roles and is also the biggest factor drawing young lawyers towards new legal jobs;
  • Flexible working is key to long-term continuity of the profession for 54 per cent.
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Regional (APAC) findings

Digging deeper into the survey results to unlock useful local market information, it’s worth noting that nearly a third of respondents came from the Australia Pacific (APAC) region across Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. While the majority of respondents were either solicitor advocates or solicitors, legal advisors and barristers were also well represented.

Why young APAC region lawyers consider leaving legal jobs

Of factors making young lawyers in the APAC region consider leaving current roles, salary was the most cited, accounting for 49 per cent of responses, but several other factors also received high responses:

  • Lack of progression opportunities in current role or workplace (38 per cent);
  • Poor work-life balance (37 per cent);
  • Desire to live elsewhere or abroad (36 per cent);
  • Interest to move to another legal profession, workplace or practice area (32 per cent).

And what attracts young APAC region lawyers to new roles?

Salary (68 per cent) still takes the top-ranked reason of why a young lawyer will take a new legal job but not so far behind this was a workplace that promotes a healthy work-life balance at 50 per cent. The next three factors were:

  • Variety/type of work, alongside the intellectual challenge of this (35 per cent);
  • Opportunity to travel or work abroad (34 per cent);
  • Flexible work schemes (28 per cent).

Local report for Australian legal jobs

A few months after the IBA survey came out, Thomson Reuters released their Australian Legal Market Midyear Update.

In good news for the local legal jobs market, the average demand for law services grew by 6.4 per cent despite a range of prevailing economic headwinds. And data collected for the midyear update also showed that employment at the average law firm grew by 4.5 per cent, while pointing toward law firms wanting to increase lawyer headcounts into the future.

But in line with the IBA findings, the Thomson Reuters report indicated that law firms should be cautious in assuming that by simply offering higher wages they can avoid attrition and attract new – especially younger – lawyers as needed. As the IBA survey findings show, a considered mix of salary, work-life balance, intellectual challenge and the chance for progression – amongst other factors – should be presented as part of the offering to ensure firms attract the best young lawyer talent in the legal jobs market.

While a strong salary package is always attractive, the law firm’s workplace structure should not be underestimated. Not being able to sometimes Work From Home, having frequently changing KPIs or having a lack of autonomy to handle your matters are among the reasons many lawyers feel disgruntled. This is something we take very seriously when helping our candidates find their next job.

Daniel Cappellacci, Legal Division Principal, Gorilla Jobs

Gorilla Jobs Can Help You

We love what we do at Gorilla Jobs, and while there are challenges, we are always ready to help you as a candidate or recruiting organisation to ensure the best talent ends up in the best jobs. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!