Yesterday, American Lawyer released the results of its annual survey of midlevel associates. Morale is about what you would expect from postal workers applying for a gun permit, not upwardly mobile white collar workers. But the results should surprise no one:
Associate morale plummeted to the lowest level in five years (since we started asking about it). It fell from a rating of 3.1 last year, on a scale of 1 to 5, to 2.7. The drop is clearly related to job insecurity. Eighty-three percent of our respondents reported medium or high anxiety about losing their jobs. The midlevels had good reason to be concerned. Sixty-one percent said that their firms had layoffs. And, for those who kept their jobs, there wasn’t enough to do. As early as last year, one-third of associates saw a drop-off in their workload, and this year 46 percent said it had decreased.
But it’s not just job security that is making Biglaw associates blue. The pay cuts don’t just hurt associates’ bottom line, they make associates feel less valuable:
Many survey respondents were also disappointed with their firms’ pay cuts, reduced or nonexistent bonuses, and decreased benefits. They were also troubled by what they saw as a lack of transparency on financial issues and layoffs.
After the jump, let’s look at the firms where midlevels are least miserable, and the firms that should consider adding Lexapro to the vending machines.
Ropes & Gray
Debevoise & Plimpton
If you work at these firms and are slightly displeased, please know that things could be a lot worse.
And speaking of worse, let’s look at the bottom five AmLaw 100 firms according to the survey:
Winston & Strawn
White & Case
You know, in this market the bottom five could be the big winners. Hey, it’s not like firms want to attract new talent and retain fungible associates. The lack of associate attrition is one of the factors that has been driving the layoffs.
We’re listening to what midlevel associates are saying. We’ll see if managing partners are listening too.
A Year To Forget [American Lawyer]
Associates Survey 2009: Results by Size – Am Law 100 and Global 100 Firms [American Lawyer]
Associates Survey 2009: National Rankings [American Lawyer]