JOB SEARCH
Skills shortage looms as young talent turns back on profession
       Elvira Naiman          Jul 15, 2013

A leading legal recruiter has said there is a “brain drain” out of the legal profession, which will cause problems for the industry when the economy picks up again.

 

“I don’t think enough grads have been trained over the course of the GFC,” Elvira Naiman, the managing director of Naiman Clarke Legal, told Lawyers Weekly.


An article from The Lawyers Weekly

 

A leading legal recruiter has said there is a “brain drain” out of the legal profession, which will cause problems for the industry when the economy picks up again.

 

“I don’t think enough grads have been trained over the course of the GFC,” Elvira Naiman, the managing director of Naiman Clarke Legal, told Lawyers Weekly.


“I can’t … create a three-year M&A lawyer that hasn’t spent three years in a good firm doing M&A. Unless there are enough firms and organisations training these lawyers to become good at a particular area of specialisation we’re going to find an incredible shortage of lawyers as we pull out of the recession.”

 

She added that law graduates abandoning the profession was also a problem: “We probably get 10 to 15 calls a week from junior lawyer or graduates who can’t secure employment … some of them are utilising their other degree … and going into other areas altogether.”

 

Naiman was talking to Lawyers Weekly about the results of our recent poll, which asked: Are young lawyers given enough opportunities to do interesting work in their early years of practice?


Most (44%) of the 837 respondents said ‘It depends on their supervising partner’; 18 per cent said the hierarchical structure of law firms means they are given the less interesting work regardless of ability, and 18 per cent said ‘No, and it is a major cause of the high rates of depression and attrition among young lawyers’.

 

“It probably says a lot about how far we’ve come as a profession that we’re much more mindful of [the problems of depression and attrition now],” said Steven Casper (pictured), the head of the corporate group in DLA Piper’s Melbourne office and also the former head of the firm’s graduate recruitment program. “I think we just need to be mindful of so many different issues as an employer … it is about making sure we create an environment for our young people to be able to excel [and] to feel satisfied in terms of the work that they’re doing.”

 

Casper added that the expectations of graduates coming into the firm now are different to previous generations: “The old days of giving articled clerks and junior lawyers the photocopying and the courier runs; that simply wouldn’t cut it in modern times,” he said, adding that young lawyers coming into the firm now are expecting to go on international secondments and to be provided with “resources” such as iPhones and laptops.

 

“Are lawyers more demanding? The answer to that is probably yes. But in terms of what law firms are expecting of their young people, are we being more demanding? The answer to that is probably yes as well,” he said, adding that he thinks giving young lawyers the chance to do interesting work and to have a relationship with clients is key to keeping them content at a firm.

 

The other two possible responses to the poll were: ‘Yes, they are given work in line with their ability and where they can demonstrate their skills’ (14%) and ‘Maybe not, but previous generations put in the hard yards so why shouldn’t young lawyers now?’ (6%).