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Top 5 Tips on How to Retain Associates

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Some 75% of associates leave the firm after five years, according to a National Association for Legal Placement study.

The relatively dismal statistic goes to demonstrate how difficult it is for firms to retain associates.

And, many attorneys can empathize. While associates may love the practice of law, long billable hour requirements and sleepless nights can often leave to associates simply burning out.

Or, some associates may already have their exit strategies in place, looking to only gain experience at a firm for a few years before jumping ship. What can law firms do to combat this trend?

  1. Offer competitive benefits. Of course, this comes at a caveat, as law firms don't want to be embroiled in a wage-war with competing firms which can only drive up salaries. But, make sure your star associates are well-compensated.
  2. Provide less-traditional benefits. Sometimes the smallest things, like catered lunches every so often or free dry cleaning, can make an associate feel more at home and more loyal to the company.
  3. Provide flexibility. Associates are often juggling the responsibilities that come with families as well as their careers. Flexibility in work schedule may be difficult in a law firm environment, but allowing some to telecommute some days or work part-time for a period of time may persuade associates to stay.
  4. Train employees and offer more continuing education. Most associates appreciate training opportunities, and opportunities to be updated on different practice areas. Firms that have the resources to provide these opportunities should aim to offer more training and education opportunities to appease an associate's desire for career enrichment.
  5. Provide some sort of feedback system. Bureaucracy may come with an increased firm size, but it does no good if associates feel that their feedback or input is lost in a sea of red tape. Firms might want to hammer out a system where feedback is addressed.

These tips, of course, are not all-inclusive. And, firms may still find it difficult to retain associates, but with some extra benefits and flexibility, they may find themselves able to keep star talent.

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