Senior associates dislike their jobs more than just about any other group of lawyers, a new Law360 survey has found, a simmering discontent experts say is caused by a dearth of viable career options due to BigLaw's slim partnership prospects and a finicky lateral market.
Based on their responses to questions in six categories in the 2016 Law360 Satisfaction Survey — compensation, benefits, billable hour requirements, firm leadership, opportunities for advancement and likelihood to look for a new firm in the next year — senior associates ranked fourth out of five groups in terms of job satisfaction, trailing behind junior associates, counsel and equity partners.
Senior associates' beef appears to be due, at least in part, to a perceived lack of career advancement opportunities: The survey found that, despite theoretically being a step away from partnership, senior associates were even more dissatisfied than nonequity partners with their opportunities for advancement, despite being generally happier overall than nonequity partners.
"My guess is, generally speaking, associates are more unhappy about lack of opportunity and a clear path for advancement as opposed to compensation," said Michelle Fivel, a partner at legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa LLC. "Many say they would sacrifice some pay if they had more of a clear path toward partnership and more feedback about the value their firm sees that they bring to the table."