The kind of law you practice makes a big difference on your perspective, according to this ATL survey.
The post Corporate vs. Litigation: Which Associates Are Happier? appeared first on Above the Law.

Earlier this year, we surveyed more than 500 associates to get their perspectives on life in the “New Normal.” The results, which are available in this free report, were revealing in many ways. One aspect that stood out is the differences between practice areas. 

Corporate lawyers had some of the highest job satisfaction ratings of all practice groups. The contrast is especially sharp compared to responses from litigation associates. Corporate associates are happier with virtually every aspect of their jobs — e.g., caliber of work, interactions with partners, compensation, career trajectory — except work-life balance. “There is no end to the work,” in the words of one respondent.

Meanwhile, many of the lowest ratings came from litigators, for areas including firm leadership, firm communication, and work environment. Litigators also reported experiencing to a higher degree feelings of isolation, lack of structure, and a sense that their colleagues are unhappy. Many are convinced that management doesn’t care about their well-being, whereas corporate associates are more likely to believe that management is actively trying to address associate concerns.

Litigators were the least positive about their firms’ handling of the pandemic. Less than half of litigation respondents said their firm handled it “pretty well” or “excellently,” and one in five said “horribly” or “not very well.”

These feelings of (dis)satisfaction also seem to shape associates’ career expectations. While one in three corporate respondents sees partnership in their future, just one in five litigators do. 

Litigation associates are more likely to have an eye on the door. Almost 30 percent plan to leave their firms within the year and another 23 percent expect to leave within two years. The primary reasons include unfulfilling work, dislike of the firm culture and/or management, disconnection from colleagues, and the opportunity to make more money elsewhere. 

While these are also factors for some corporate associates, by far the most common driver for corporate associates planning to leave their firms is a desire for better work-life balance, cited by almost 80 percent of respondents.

For more on the corporate vs. litigation divide, as well as other insights into associates’ experiences, download your free report today.