Associate hiring and attrition remain above average in 2022, new NALP Foundation report says

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While hiring and attrition of law firm associates have decreased from the historic high levels reported in 2021, they remained above levels from previous years in 2022, according to the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education’s annual Update on Associate Attrition report released Tuesday.

“The very high levels of both associate hiring and attrition, particularly in the first half of 2022, show significantly elevated and ongoing associate mobility, but with increasing dispersion based on location and practice area … and troublingly persistent differences for associates of color, which should be a pressing concern for the profession,” said Fiona Trevelyan Hornblower, president and CEO of the NALP Foundation, in an April 18 news release.

According to the NALP Foundation, data from 128 firms in the United States and Canada shows that the overall associate attrition rate was 20% in 2022, compared to 26% in 2021. However, the foundation noted that 26% of associates of color continued to leave their firms at higher rates than their peers last year.

The NALP Foundation additionally reports that geographic relocation was cited for the first time as one of the primary reasons for associate departures and more than twice as many litigation associates than business and corporate associates left their firms in 2022.

Law360, which covered the report, points out that 72% of associates who left their firms departed within their first five years. And of those who left, 41% took another associate role, and 23% took a corporate or in-house position. In addition to geographic location, the pursuit of practice interests, changes to a different type of job and unfavorable work quality standards were reasons associates cited for departures.

In terms of hiring, Law360 reports that participating firms hired 6,786 associates in 2022, compared to 7,278 in 2021. While those numbers mark a slight decrease, they are still higher than the 4,956 associate hires reported in 2020.

Law360 additionally reports that lateral hires slightly outpaced entry level hires, and that hiring by gender was nearly even in 2022.

See also: “Lateral hiring dropped last year, fueled by decline in associate market, NALP report says”

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