Churn & Burn

1.  In 2000, 60% of associates left their firms within 5 years.
2.  In 2005, 80% of associates left their firms within 5 years.
3.  Every time an associate leaves, it can cost a firm from $200,000 to $500,000!
4.  "De-equitization" is no longer unusual; in fact, at least one firm has paid millions of dollars in penalties for firing partners — the EEOC called it age discrimination against employees.
5.  Today, many firms are terminating relationships with their attorneys, and corresponding staff.

One could argue that law firms are businesses and merely reacting to the vagaries of today’s economy. While that is true, it seems that we are stuck on the horns of a dilemma. Rather than terminating lawyers in one area while at the same time seeking other lawyers (laterals and others) for different practice areas, it seems far more prudent to teach new skills to the lawyers you now employ. This would save the firm money and, perhaps more important, it would enhance the morale of the law firm … Also, how about preserving the client relationships that the departing lawyers have enjoyed while with the firm?

Something is wrong with this picture … and until law firm management "gets it," there will continue to be turmoil in the legal community.


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