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MLA's Gen Z Survey Finds That Majority of Aspiring Lawyers Prioritize Remote Work Flexibility

Hanover, MD – April 20, 2021 – As the legal industry implemented widescale remote work for the first time amid the pandemic, more than 60% of Gen Z law students are hoping for fully flexible work arrangements once they begin their careers, according to the Gen Z Survey recently released by Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), the world’s largest legal search firm. An additional 20% of respondents said they would ideally like set remote work days, while 6% said they would prefer full-time remote work. Furthermore, mentorship is highly important to this generation, with more than a quarter of respondents ranking formalized training programs as the most important aspect of firm life. The MLA Gen Z Survey was conducted between February 2021 to March 2021.

“Our survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the career aspirations of Gen Z law students and aspiring attorneys,” said Jackie Bokser LeFebvre, a Managing Director in MLA’s Associate Practice Group and a co-author of the survey. “This generation deeply values flexible work arrangements – a desire that was only amplified as a result of the pandemic. With Gen Z also placing a premium on strong mentorship and training programs, firms will be faced with balancing these at-times competing priorities in a field where in-person mentorship has long been the norm.”

Work-life balance has also consistently ranked as a top priority for Gen Z. Thirty percent of respondents said they would consider a cut in compensation for more flexible work arrangements, while 21% said they would trade compensation for more time off. At the same time, financial stability remains important to this next generation of lawyers: 45% said they planned to pursue a career in BigLaw after graduation.

Other highlights of the survey included:

  • Firms’ decisions regarding austerity measures during the pandemic have affected their perception by Gen Z as a potential employer. Almost 66% of respondents said that how firms handled pay cuts, furloughs, and other cutbacks during the pandemic will play a role in how they evaluate them for their future careers.
  • Gen Z was split on whether BigLaw cared about them during the pandemic. Nearly 52% of respondents said BigLaw firms cared about their associates amid the challenges posed by the pandemic, while about 48% said they did not.
  • Firms’ parental leave policies are a key consideration for Gen Z. Seventy-three percent of Gen Z respondents ranked whether firms offer “generous” parental leave policies as “very important” or “somewhat important.”
  • Non-profits and in-house are an increasingly attractive career path for Gen Z. About 38% of Gen Z respondents said they planned to pursue a career in-house or at a non-profit after graduation, compared to 45% who planned to join a BigLaw firm. Additionally, 37% said achieving the rank of law firm partner has become less important to them since the onset of the pandemic – compared to 34% who said making partner has become more important to them over the past year.

“Though Gen Z values financial stability, they also place a unique level of importance on pursuing purpose-driven legal work. As law firms strategize around recruiting and retaining top entry-level associate talent, developing pathways for young attorneys to pursue this work in a meaningful way will be incredibly important,” said Nathan Peart, a Managing Director in MLA’s Associate Practice Group and a survey co-author. “Work-life balance and flexibility have also become more significant for associates during the pandemic. Firms that can demonstrate their commitment to supporting attorneys’ well-being will be well-positioned to attract and keep this newest class of associates.”

The full text of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Gen Z Survey is available here.

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