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Over half of solicitors apathetic about becoming partner

One in three lawyers in Midlands consider moving firm, but it is not 'all about the money'

11 September 2015

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While most lawyers remain confident about the future for the legal profession, many feel they are underpaid and no longer aspire to partnership.

Recruitment consultants Bygott Biggs said the findings may have long-term repercussions for the way the profession is shaped in the future.

Bygott Biggs surveyed 600 lawyers, predominantly across the Midlands, from a broad cross-section of the legal sector, from international to large regional and national firms, as well as high street practices and publicly funded firms. A small number of City lawyers were also surveyed.

One-third of respondents to the survey said they were exploring the possibilities of leaving, with 25 per cent citing career progression as the key motivation.

Other stand-out results from the survey revealed that some 35 per cent of legal professionals have no ambition to aspire to partner status, and that the glass ceiling remains a factor for many women.

Meanwhile, despite reported improvements to work-life balance, long hours are still common in the legal sector, with 13 per cent of lawyers admitting to working 50 plus hours per week.

Interestingly, with more legal professionals on the move, just 9 per cent said they left their last job for financial reasons.

Jane Biggs, managing director of Bygott Biggs, said: 'There are a whole variety of reasons why a candidate leaves their role, the predominant reason is for career progression. Only 9 per cent, however, left their last role for financial incentives.

'Another telling statistic from our survey is that over a half of respondents (54 per cent) are either unsure about partnership or are not interested in achieving partnership in the future. The last two results show that legal professionals are not as motivated by money as they're sometimes thought to be.'

She added: 'As we come out of the recession it will also be interesting to see how law firms face the challenge of how best to reward employees and retain talent.'

The findings back up an earlier survey from recruiters Douglas Scott, which suggested that, while 79 per cent of male lawyers and 64 per cent of female lawyers wanted to make partner, nearly a third of all legal professionals had no partnership or business leadership aspirations.

Some 46 per cent of those without such ambitions cited flexibility and work-life balance considerations, while 37 per cent said they did not want to experience the stress associated with the higher echelons of power within law firms.

This article first appeared in PCA's sister publication, Solicitors Journal

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