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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happiness is a well-paid associate

The Wall Street Journal law blog recently reported two surveys “that took the pulse[s] of junior lawyers at the nation’s large firms” and that found that their pulses are beating rapidly because they are so happy with their jobs (see "The Joys of Big Law"). Ok, one was by Hildebrandt International, which is a legal consulting firm, but the other was American Lawyer magazine, and who am I to say don’t trust the media?

In Hildebrandt’s study, 45 percent rated themselves “highly satisfied” while another 45 percent were “more or less” satisfied. Only five percent expressed strong dissatisfaction with their firms.
In August, in its annual associate poll, American Lawyer reported that associate satisfaction has inched up over recent years to reach a record high of 3.81 on a five point scale, up from 3.64 four years ago.

The WSJ speculates that the level of attention being paid to the needs and preferences of young lawyers is one of the reasons for the happiness hike. Furthermore, they’re making a lot of money when others are unemployed. As one commenter wrote, “I believe that the knowledge of others who are struggling as lawyers makes those of us who have good jobs feel some sense of satisfaction and happiness (or relief and gratitude), thereby making the overall level of happiness for large firm lawyers rise. That and $160,000/yr.”

And, some readers commented, associate’s expectations may have come into line with reality in recent years. One wrote, “It’s hard sometimes, tedious sometimes, but what did I expect? It’s a big law firm and they’re giving me everything they said they would -- pay and bennies but also work and hours. I am no worse off than any of my peers at other firms and that helps too.”

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