Associates come and go at all firms. They practice for a while and they either lose interest, they have a life altering event (a baby for example); they decide to try a different firm on for size or pursue government service. This is the norm. I am now at my third law firm since 1997. Change occurs to us all. Is there a special formula to keep and retain people? Is it a firm issue or a sign of the times that people no longer think about their first law firm as a long term fit? I think it is mostly the later. However, I also think investment in associates is a wise thing all law firms should consider and not just because of retention. I believe mentoring relationships between older well seasoned attorneys is essential for the profession to grow good attorneys. You must in essence give to enhance the quality of the next generation.
Personally, I enjoy being a partner and teaching younger attorneys what basic lawyering is like. I spent a good deal of time in my early career driving to court appearances all over the state. I also, did a lot of work on what many considered trivial small “municipal court” litigation. I learned so much about the basics and still retain some of those clients today. Their work is important to me as if they had very large cases. I now have most of this trial work completed by young associates and while many times they question the value of the work after a year a so they have grown into confident young lawyers.
This week one of these young lawyers announced he was leaving our firm. He is going to another firm where he can focus on one area. I was so proud of him and happy for him. Others weren’t so sure. I think all people must look into themselves and figure out if they fit in the practicing setting they are in. Sometimes it works and you can stay put your entire career, but not always. In those cases, the separation you feel when someone leaves may be a disappointment but knowing that you had a hand in training them leaves you with a measure of satisfaction and in my case pride. Their choice is not a reflection on the firm as much as it is a personal matter that furthers their goals in life. To all those making such choices I commend them for assessing their life and for those who choose to stay put I am glad they have found a firm home.
Change is not always a bad thing and the sooner you accept it as a fact of life the easier such transitions are.