Lawyers prioritise work-life balance over partnership goals

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By Rhys Duncan on


New research

Only a quarter of associates are aspiring to make partner at their current firm within the next five years, new research has shown.

This number drops down to only 3% for associates aspiring to make partner at another firm, a study of over 500 associates and senior leaders by LexisNexis reads.

The report, entitled Disloyal lawyers: has the partnership model lost its lustre?, also took the views of senior leaders, half of whom (49%) said that they have noticed a decline in the number of associates looking to move onto the next rung. For large firms, this figure rises to 63%.

Seven in ten of these leaders (71%) think the shift is being driven by a desire for a better work life balance.

However most associates, the report continues, are content with where they are. Over half (56%) said they have no plans to move firm in the next five years, with only 12% looking to move away from private practice.

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The key factors tempting associates away to greener pastures are the possibilities for a better work-life balance (71%) and bigger salaries (69%).

The data also revealed that bringing in and retaining lawyers is one of the greatest challenges facing law firms, with 69% of large law firm leaders citing this as their biggest issue.

Commenting on the research, Stuart Greenhill, Senior Director of Segment Strategy at LexisNexis said:

“The current generation of workers are disruptors, not conformers. If they see something they don’t like, they’ll push back. To meet growth goals and retain a feasible talent pipeline, law firms will need to find a middle-ground. They cannot rely on what has worked well in the past, especially with the AI revolution well on its way.”

Deborah Finkler, managing partner at Slaughter and May, added: “Becoming a partner at a law firm requires a huge amount of work and commitment, and always has. This generation of associates are just more realistic about the likelihood of becoming a partner at their firm, and do not feel they need to pretend that staying and becoming a partner is their only option.”



As the saying goes: no health, no wealth! There’s no point putting your life second to your work, making money you can’t spend (and that’s taxed the be Jesus out of anyways)!

Who wants to look back on their life with regret for all the meaningful moments they missed with family and friends because they were slogging away at their desk on some documents that usually aren’t even read!


Good. Less people to get in my way.

Someone with a brain

You’ll realise when you’re a fat middle aged man who can barely see his penis that it wasn’t worth it. Partners look unhealthy and overworked. They look well over their age. And to be perfectly honest any smart man with a slight brain can invest the money they’ve made as an associate and have enough income to retire before making partner


I am a woman. How’s that brain working?


Not if you have school fees to pay.


fewer*. HTH


Not sure what this has to do with AI. I may be missing something but I just don’t see the link. Feels like AI is becoming a “might as well throw it in there” for all topics at the moment, no matter how tentative the perceived link.

MC Associate

The only appeal of partnership at a City firm is the money. Beyond that, it seems an utterly thankless job – back-to-back calls from 9am to 5pm every single day, an explicit expectation to be contactable at all times including on weekends and during holidays, demanding and occasionally abusive clients who you nonetheless need to constantly pander to, the headache of recruiting and managing juniors, and endless business development and internal firm paper-pushing. And, in the end, you and you alone are the person who is responsible for getting everything right; there is nobody you can look to for advice, or rely upon, or check your work with – from the moment you reach the partnership, you have to make all the big decisions and live with the consequences. I don’t begrudge them the money, because no amount could possibly convince me to choose that lifestyle.


It is not now and never has been simply a matter of very hard work and commitment. The need has always been to secure early on a sponsor with sufficient influence in the firm to support your quest for partnership – your face has to fit and you must be able to deliver a very high level of competence in your selected choice of specialism. Your sponsor must be well set in the firm and be in a position to assure the senior members of the partnership that you are also ‘one of us’. So choose field of specialism and sponsor with the greatest of care. Otherwise, you will have to be looking elsewhere when the time comes. .

No choice

The people who don’t need a work/life balance just don’t have a life. For these types, they don’t need friends, family, or outside interests. They throw everything into the job because, in reality, that is their only option. They rule the roost at work and for them, that is enough.

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