Attractions, Coaches and Secondments: what junior lawyers are looking for from their law firm

Posted by Laura Brammar on 22-Mar-2016 10:00:00
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You’ve recently graduated. You’ve landed a job at a major law firm. You’re quite vague about what you expect in terms of career development, right? Actually, wrong.

The Careers Group, University of London surveyed over 200 lawyers in the early years of their career to explore their expectations regarding their career development. We were keen to find out what had driven their employment choices and intentions, what career management activities they expected to do themselves and what support solicitors and barristers expected from their employers. What we discovered has implications for recruiters, graduates and university career services alike.

Here are 4 ways you can retain the best in new legal talent taken from our top rated report.

1. Reputation is only part of the attraction

In terms of organisational attraction factors (e.g. factors which made the trainee want to work at their current organisation) quality of work, culture and reputation/prestige were the three most common factors with respondents. Interestingly though there were some differences based on gender and age: quality of work was twice as popular with male respondents as with their female counterparts, whilst international work was also significantly more popular with respondents aged 18-24 years old. Alternatively, 25-34 year old respondents instead prioritised training and development and reputation.


2. Line managers as careers coaches

Line managers were identified by 97% of respondents as being the most important source of informal career development support. Indeed 93% also expect their line manager to make sure that they have the training they need for their career. Many trainee solicitors also feel that their line manager has a career development responsibility beyond mere job performance, such as to introduce them to potential useful career contacts. You can gain more insight by downloading the full report.


3. Secondments in demand

Whilst we may think of secondments as career development opportunities which staff look for later in their careers, our research found this was not the case. 93% of respondents, who are still relatively new to their organisations, expect to access secondment opportunities in other organisations, whilst 78% expect to be offered secondments within their current


4. Eager to develop their own careers

But this isn’t just about being passive in terms of careers enhancement. 96% also expect to engage in individual career development activities which will aid their career progression, such as building contacts with people who could progress their career. Indeed many are also keeping an open mind about the ultimate direction of their career with over a quarter (26%) of respondents expecting to change to another career area in the future.

By understanding these career development expectations more fully, recruiters, graduates and university employability professionals can work together to manage and meet these expectations more fully in the future. 


Download Career Development Expectations  of Early Career Lawyers survey


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