Midlevel associates give high rankings to their firms; is technology key?

Midlevel associates at the nation’s top law firms are even happier with their workplaces this year than in 2014, when surveyed associates reported the highest levels of satisfaction in a decade.

The associates are likely giving their firms high grades in the American Lawyer survey because of supply and demand, the publication says (sub. req.). There are fewer midlevel associates in the past because of the recession, which resulted in hiring freezes and layoffs. Those who survived are more in demand and more secure in their jobs.

The survey also found a correlation between midlevel associate satisfaction and high rankings for their law firms’ use of technology. The technology may be helping the associates work away from the office and on a flexible schedule.

The American Lawyer spoke with Paul Hastings midlevel associate Julie O’Neill, who said her firm has the technology that helps lawyers be effective. That “means a lot for my generation,” she said, “If I am traveling and I need a Wi-Fi hotspot, it is there in half an hour. We have Cisco [video] phones so that we can see each other. We can choose the BlackBerry or an app called Mobile Iron for the iPhone. We can have a desktop or a laptop. Our laptop is docked, so we can travel with it. We have a lot of options to set things up as we want to. And our technology team is very knowledgeable and very helpful.”

The survey was open to midlevel associates at Am Law 200 and Global 100 firms, a change in methodology from the prior year. As a result, Nutter McClennen, ranked No. 1 last year, wasn’t included in the survey.

These law firms got the highest rankings from associates, garnering ratings above 4.5 on a five-point scale:

1) Paul Hastings (national), with a score of 4.902

2) Cozen O’Connor (Philadelphia), with a score of 4.741

3) O’Melveny & Myers (Los Angeles), with a score of 4.703

4) Blank Rome (Philadelphia), with a score of 4.616

5) Ropes & Gray (Boston), with a score of 4.599

6) Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (New York), with a score of 4.543

7) Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (national), with a score of 4.515

Associates rated their firms on several factors, including compensation, training, relationships with other lawyers, interest in their work, openness, and billable hours policies.

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