The Talent

September 1, 2010 10:14 AM

ASSOCIATES SURVEY 2010: The Lucky Ones?

Posted by Ed Shanahan

By Drew Combs, The American Lawyer

Many people would consider Am Law 200 midlevel associates to be extremely fortunate. While thousands of their colleagues lost jobs, these young lawyers are gainfully employed with salaries in the six figures. The midlevels tell us that they survived the recession in part because of the quality of their work, and that they aren't worried about losing their jobs going forward. And even though revenue and profits dipped at the majority of their firms, relative to other industries, Big Law wasn't hit as hard during the recession. In many ways, once their student loans are paid off, midlevel associates' prospects seem bright.

But that's not how they see it. Maybe it's the posttraumatic stress syndrome from watching so many associates and law firm staffers get the ax, but the midlevels who survived the great purge aren't feeling particularly fortunate. In fact, they seem downright cranky.

In our annual survey of 5,092 midlevel associates, attorneys in their third, fourth, and fifth years of practice, the average composite score--which is based on ratings for 12 core questions--fell from 3.897 in 2009 to 3.728 this year. That's the lowest score since 2004.

The unease isn't because midlevels fear being pink-slipped. In the 2009 survey, a whopping 83 percent of respondents expressed medium to high anxiety about losing their jobs, but this year nearly 80 percent of survey respondents said they were not worried about being laid off.

to read more about the results of this year's survey.

Go to for the full report, including all charts and features.


TELL US WHAT YOU THINK--post your comments about this year's survey findings here.


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The imbalances in the associate labor market created by the mass layoffs and lack of hiring should be worrisome for everyone. The partners have proven themselves to be as ruthless and opportunistic as everyone had feared. They will find ways to capitalize on this that will further undermine associate concerns. Many of them have already created a second (lower paying) associate track that's likely to expand and eventually displace existing associates.

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