Market News

ANALYSIS: Are Fewer Lawyers Searching for New Jobs?

By Jessica R. Blaemire for Bloomberg Law

The “Great Resignation” may be ending for attorneys—or at least slowing—according to the results of a recent Bloomberg Law survey.

From summer 2021 to winter 2022, a consistent range of 7% to 10% of attorney respondents to Bloomberg Law Workload & Hours Surveys that were conducted during that time period wanted to leave their jobs. So when the most recent survey data came out, I decided to dig into it to see whether the temptation to switch jobs remains as strong as it did previously. The data suggest that it does not.

Only 5% of the respondents to the most recent Workload & Hours Survey described themselves as “actively seeking” other job opportunities—the lowest percentage since Bloomberg Law began asking the question in July 2021. The current data likewise included the highest percentage of respondents (56%) who stated that they aren’t looking to leave their jobs at this time.

Why the Shift to Staying Put?

Earlier this month, my Bloomberg Law colleague Francis Boustany speculated that the current lawyer unemployment rate of 0.1% from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—the lowest rate in more than a decade—stems from most unemployed attorneys having found the employment they were seeking.

The apparent slowdown in attorneys wanting to change jobs may be for a similar reason: Attorneys have found new jobs that are a better fit for them. Notably, 5% of attorneys responding to the winter 2022 Workload & Hours Survey reported they had recently started a new job—and in summer 2022, this number dropped to 1%. It appears that attorneys made their switches months ago and are sticking with them.

Another possible explanation for the slowdown is that legal organizations have gotten savvier at retaining their attorneys. Many employers have increased salaries, implemented flexible work-from-home policies, developed more active diversity initiatives, and improved well-being programs. Attorneys who previously wanted to leave may now be satisfied where they are.

If this is the case, hopefully law firms and corporations won’t take this as a message that they can slow down their efforts to keep their current employees. Attorney burnout is still a big concern, and companies need to continue prioritizing attorney well-being.