How can firms keep younger lawyers from leaving?

New research shows that two in five junior practitioners intend to walk out the door. But, there are ways that firms can retain them.

Last week, Lawyers Weekly revealed that younger lawyers are the most dissatisfied demographic in Australia’s legal profession, with a startling number of them looking to leave their current employers.

According to the 2019 Legal Firm of Choice Survey, conducted by Momentum Intelligence, 53.2 per cent of lawyers with one to three years of experience intend to leave their current employers, compared to 38.9 per cent of those with less than a year under their belts.

This should raise alarm bells for law firms, Momentum Intelligence head of research Michael Johnson said recently on The Lawyers Weekly Show.

“Law is one of Australia’s most competitive talent attraction markets, and so making sure that your employees are happy and that they’re going along the journey of making your business succeed with you [is crucial],” he said.

In order to ensure that this demographic remains with their firms, Mr Johnson said that – according to the research – quality of leadership, culture and recognition of individual performance are the top three drivers of satisfaction for younger lawyers.

These three drivers are followed closely, he added, by support for mental and physical wellbeing.

“[It is] really important to recognise that, while pay is a good sustainer, it’s not going to maintain your motivation and your satisfaction on a daily basis, whereas having a really great leader is really important for many, many people,” he explained.

“And, obviously, there’s a number of macro-economic trends affecting the younger generations, particularly in Australia around the capital cities: housing prices and affordability, that sort of thing. And I think there’s a push for support for work-life balance. But, while there [are] these trends that come and go, what we find is that quality of leadership and culture are consistently the two top things.

“It’s also equally as important, if not more important, to reflect on the organisation structure as a whole and to make sure that things like communication and leadership and having clear visions for the business are communicated down to whatever level that this employee may be at.”

If one looks at any sort of professional services marketing collateral, Mr Johnson mused, those materials will talk about the buyer’s journey or the customer journey.

The employee journey, he proclaimed, is just as important.

“If you look at an organisation, it’s a combination of people all working toward the same goal or hopefully running toward that same goal. And so, you need to be able to make sure that – for graduates and younger lawyers going through that journey that you’ve identified what little things you can do to make sure that these people are highly engaged throughout and managing that journey.”

About the Legal Firm of Choice

The Legal Firm of Choice is an annual report produced by market research firm, Momentum Intelligence designed to reveal the attitudes, perceptions and priorities of legal professionals.

It is the resource for helping business leaders attract and retain Australia’s best legal talent by uncovering the key trends in the talent attraction market including the key drivers of satisfaction, retention and attrition.

These insights are delivered on an online interactive data platform that enables users to drill down across the complete five-year history of the survey that includes over two million data points revealing the sentiments of legal professionals over time.

The Legal Firm of Choice is available for purchase via the Momentum Intelligence website. For more information visit the website or contact


To listen to Jerome’s full conversation about dissatisfaction among younger practitioners, click below:

Lawyers weekly