106 Communications

6th Sense

21st century law firm: inheriting a new world

January 2014 | Law, Sectors

Last week, Eversheds published a report into ‘what young lawyers want from their careers and their employers, and how they see the profession ten years from now’.  There were some headline statements about:

New ways of working –  A third (35%) feel that the sector does not use technology well enough.

Career path – 60% felt that the career path was unnecessarily long.

The partnership model – A third (35%) feel that the partnership model is out of step with the 21st Century (although 68% still aspire to be a Partner!)

Gender equality – While women earn more early in their careers, this changes from ages 26-30 and then to 36-39 – clearly relating to career progression.  (Interestingly only 57% of women aspire to be a Partner compared to 77% of men.)

These ‘young lawyers’ had decided on a career in law.  So we would expect them to know something of the issues before they started on their career; so perhaps the most worrying stat is not a headline grabber, but one where they felt their expectations had been met.  For almost a third of respondents, their work as lawyers was not what they had expected, and two-thirds of these were for adverse reasons.  In essence, about a quarter of lawyers surveyed had had a disappointing experience – and for these reasons:

1. interest in the work

2. working hours 

3. law firm culture. 

So is this report about a radical change to law firms?  Perhaps.  Or a reaction to a disappointing experience for a significant percentage of young lawyers?  Maybe.  After all, many (83%) say they are happy in their careers.  Certainly what we can see is the need for more of a career urgency or intensity in these early years, that would go some way to negating that feeling of an ‘unnecessarily long’ career path.  Firms can’t necessarily shorten the length of time to partnership; but perhaps they can make it more interesting and varied, especially before the age of 30.

If you also align that to a greater technology and cultural focus, you could go some way to transforming the experience of young lawyers.

Where it is more difficult to draw conclusions is on the female v male pay divide and partnership aspirations.  It simply seems that firms just don’t do enough for women – either not supporting them to progress and become partners or if they don’t want to be partners, supporting them to continue their careers.

How can 106 Comms help?

Research – understand whether the findings of this report are true of your organisation, and the implications for your own firm.  

Engagement – help to develop communications programme that encourage greater communication, collaboration and innovation to help firms live up to the expectation of those early years.

Digital – to use digital platforms successfully to communicate and collaborate across the firm, and build reputation externally to help differentiate the firm, build reputation and set expectations.

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