Slight slowdown in work for associates shown in two surveys; should they be concerned?

Some midlevel associates aren’t as busy as they were last year, but they likely won’t enjoy the downtime.

The American Lawyer offers the evidence and comments on what it could mean. Twenty-eight percent of midlevel associates responding to a survey by the publication said their workload is lighter this year than last. In 2012, only 25 percent reported less work. Another survey of 146 law firms by Citi Private Bank found that associate productivity was down 2.7 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same time last year.

It would be nice to tell these lawyers to enjoy the downtime, the American Lawyer says, but for lawyers who experienced the economic downturn “a quiet phone and empty in-box aren’t a temporary respite, but something more frightening,” the story says.

“Not only is there the short-term risk of a lower bonus,” the story says, “there’s also the more existential questions about whether their practice area will get busier soon, whether the lack of work will derail them from a partner track, and whether the slowdown they are seeing reflects more macroeconomic concerns about the firm’s financial health.”

Prior coverage: “Glad to have jobs, midlevel associates in Am Law survey give BigLaw a major thumbs-up”

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