A new report has shown that a significant number of young lawyers across the world are either leaving or considering leaving their current job in the next five years.
According to a survey from the International Bar Association (IBA), 54% of respondents said that they were ‘somewhat likely’ or ‘highly likely’ to move to a new workplace.
The IBA Young Lawyers’ Report found that one-third wanted to switch to a different area of the legal profession, while 20% were thinking about leaving the profession entirely.
The survey was carried out by the IBA’s Young Lawyers’ Committee (YLC) and Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU), in collaboration with market-research company Acritas.
Work-life balance concerns solicitors
The research covered the views of 3,000 young lawyers – defined as aged 40 or under. It was aimed at uncovering the concerns of younger lawyers, and finding out why so many are considering leaving the profession.
The survey found that a lack of work-life balance was a concern for more than 60% of young lawyers, with the figure rising to just over 70% for those aged 25 and under.
According to the survey, law-firm solicitors were more likely to cite work-life balance and mental-health issues as concerns than their in-house counterparts, among whom a lack of opportunities for promotion is a bigger worry.
Nine out of ten young lawyers reported experiencing barriers to their career progression – such as balancing commitments, insufficient mentorship, and a lack of promotion opportunities.
Salary a key factor
A perceived failure to address “toxic workplace cultures” was a concern for 43% of female respondents and 27% of young male lawyers.
Salary was the most-cited factor pushing young lawyers out of their current roles; it was, however, also the biggest factor in drawing young lawyers towards a new legal role.
More than half of the young lawyers surveyed said that flexible working was key to keeping people in the profession.
The report includes several recommendations aimed at creating “a healthier and more fulfilling profession for all”.
These include improving policies and initiatives on work-life balance, acknowledging and addressing the mental-wellbeing concerns of young lawyers, and training lawyers to keep up with the latest developments in legal technology.
Marco Monaco Sorge and Marie Caroline Brasseur (co-chairs of the IBA’s YLC) warned that a high turnover of young lawyers could cause problems on many levels – including the disruption of productivity, and damage to client relationships.
IBA President Sternford Moyo said that it was in the profession’s interest to identify what was deterring its best young talent from progressing in their legal careers, and the obstacles they were encountering.