Survey finds associates' satisfaction high; for women, not so much

Job satisfaction among third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates at large law firms hit new highs last year, according to ALM's The American Lawyer. The Midlevel Associates Survey, published in the September issue and at, has compiled comparable figures since 2004.

However, the report found clear evidence of a gender divide in how midlevels view their firms and futures.

"Men doled out higher scores in virtually every category of the survey, suggesting that they are more satisfied with the direction of their firms and their careers than their female counterparts," wrote Senior Reporter Vivia Chen. "The genders also split when it came to priorities. Men expressed a greater desire to become a partner, while women often voiced uncertainty about staying on."

Sex differences aside, average job satisfaction, calculated from responses of 5,683 respondents at 134 firms to 12 questions, rose to 4.040 on a 1-to-5 scale with 5 indicating highest satisfaction. The prior year's score was 3.984. Morale rose to 3.462, compared to 3.388 last year. In 2009, morale bottomed at 2.666.

Among the findings of The American Lawyer's gender breakdown of differing associate experiences and attitudes were:

* Men rated the importance of becoming partner at 3.40 on the 1-to-5 scale, compared to only 3.13 for women.

* 10.1 percent of men saw themselves as equity partners in five years at their current firm versus just 6.5 percent of women, though the low numbers for both are noteworthy.

* Men rated their firms 3.95 on family-friendliness while women scored them at only 3.79.

* Asked why they might leave their current firm, 6.4 percent of men cited money versus 3.0 percent of women, while not making partner would motivate 13.5 percent of men but only 7.4 percent of women.

Full survey data are available for purchase in searchable, sortable Excel format from ALM Legal Intelligence at

Published: Wed, Sep 4, 2013