When these associates depart for other opportunities, it can often cause a law firm to feel as if they should quit hiring. Why hire, train, put your faith and hope in an attorney only to see them leave? This causes lots of law firms to simply hire more administrative staff (like paralegals or legal assistants) versus hiring associate attorneys to replace them. In talking to several other law firm owners of late, this is the exact position they have taken in response to associates leaving.
If you have the work for an associate, this line of thinking is a mistake. When an associate leaves, it’s usually better to act expeditiously to replace them versus deciding that the hiring of associates is a mistake.
The reality is that many attorneys are mobile. This is especially true for young attorneys. Young attorneys are often looking for greener pastures. They almost cannot help themselves. They were led to believe that by going to law school they’d have an easy life. Law school career services can instill this belief in young attorneys. Parents and other people of influence (including other young attorneys) can sway them in this direction as well.
It makes sense why young attorneys would fall into this line of thinking. After all, who wouldn’t want to make a lot of money, not have to work very hard, and have the ability to quickly better their life? This is the belief of many young attorneys. For a substantial number of attorneys, the reality is that it isn’t until an attorney has practiced for a long while before reality finally sets in that success takes hard work overtime and that getting rich quick isn’t the way it works for most.
So, when your associates leave, don’t blame yourself. Just be sure that you go into hiring associates with different expectations and keep hiring. Assume that many associates are only going to stay a few years at the most no matter what you do. When one leaves, simply replace them, enhance your interview process by screening applicants better the next time and go into it with realistic expectations.
But don’t let an associate leaving cause you to shrink your practice, change what you’re doing or believe that you’ve done something wrong. In most circumstances, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
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