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5 Ways Firms Can Offer Associates Fulfilling Work

Aebra Coe Law360.com

If law firms want to retain talented associates, research shows that offering them high-quality work is one of the best ways to do it.

A recent survey of 128 law firms by the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education found that the No. 1 reason associates leave their firm is dissatisfaction with work quality, a statistic that comes as no surprise to legal recruiters who say high-quality, fulfilling and challenging work is vitally important to most associates.

"Despite the reputation that millennial associates have, I find that they are willing to work hard and put in the time," Major, Lindsey & Africa partner Michelle Fivel said. "They want to know that the partners respect their ability to understand complex and sophisticated matters and that, if included in on the discussion, they could have some real value to add."

Explain the Bigger Picture

Often, associates are given a discrete task — such as reviewing documents or drafting a single document — and they are not given any more information other than what they need to simply complete that task, Fivel said.

Instead, assigning partners should take a few moments at the beginning of an assignment to explain the bigger picture to the associate whom they are assigning the work to, she suggested.

In the case of a transaction, it's helpful for an associate to understand who the parties are and what the end goal of the transaction is, she added, and in the case of litigation, it's helpful for an associate to understand the major parties and issues involved and the stage that the litigation is currently in.

"The associate will start to see the bigger picture for themselves and will have a context for their assignments. In addition, they will be poised to take a greater role in the next deal or case," Fivel said. "If an associate has an understanding of the context and reason for the assignment that they have been given, it is more likely that they will view their assignments as meaningful or, at the very least, understand it as a necessary stepping stone to more substantive tasks."

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