BridgeBuilder Associate Retention Program
If you are tired of saying good-bye to promising young associates walking out the door in pursuit of what they think is a “better opportunity,” you are not alone. Law firms of all sizes struggle with the growing problem of “revolving door” associates – young attorneys in whom the firm has invested significant resources, but who spend just a few years at a firm before leaving for greener pastures. The departures are costly on many levels. You may continue to watch the stream of associates coming and going or you can learn what steps to take to identify and correct the problem.
The new generation of lawyers may not have the patience or motivation to follow traditional career paths. They see an associate’s position as a stepping stone, not a commitment. This is a costly problem that affects recruitment, training, morale, and, ultimately, client satisfaction. One study estimates a single lost associate can cost a firm $200,000 to $500,000 in recruiting, training, and replacement costs.
Firms can take proactive steps to better understand and manage the emerging needs and expectations of younger associate and avoid the disconnect that leads to attorney exodus. To assist in this process, we have developed our innovative BridgeBuilder program.
Our BridgeBuilder program incorporates lessons learned over more than 20 years of helping law firms improve performance and profitability through better management, active practice development, and hands-on attorney coaching. BridgeBuilder provides an in-depth assessment of the expectations, anxieties, pressures, and motivations that influence associate behavior, with a goal of bridging the divide between the partnership and younger attorneys who represent the future of the firm.
Through detailed questionnaires and interviews with partners, current associates, and associates who have left the firm, BridgeBuilder uncovers concealed issues, unspoken concerns, and misunderstood expectations that can create a gulf between partners and associates. Our survey is designed to elicit partner and associate response to the same questions—asking the partners to respond the way they think the associates would respond. This allows us to identify the “disconnect” and make recommendations to reconcile those differences.
As part of our research we speak to associates who have left the firm over the last few years. We often find that former firm associates may not be candid on an exit interview but are eager to provide helpful information to an outside resource. Through the research process we identify reasons why associates leave the firm and what specifically can be done to prevent additional turnover. We assess a wide range of issues, including mentorship, career paths, internal communication and support, compensation, training and development, and expected workload.
This information is translated into firm-specific recommendations for reducing turnover and improving associate satisfaction. We share the information with the partners and associates, either together or separately, depending on the firm. Clients who have completed the BridgeBuilder process and have implemented our recommendations report significant improvement in retention and associate satisfaction.