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Our 2nd Associate survey of the pandemic era reveals a 14% drop in their job satisfaction from last year.

And this drop makes things look better than they are. The number of associates giving lower marks also increased substantially. In short — more associates are less happy.

The drop is bigger with mid-level associates (3 to 6 years) who register even lower job satisfaction than all associates taken as a whole — just when law firms need them most. Here are the details:

  • Only 8% of associates rate their current job satisfaction a 9 or 10 out of 10, with 10 being excellent. This is down from 33% in April/May of last year
  • Associates overall rank their current job satisfaction at 6.3 out of 10 — down from 7.4 in April/May of last year
  • Mid-level associates rank their current job satisfaction at 5.74 out of 10 — down from 7.46 in April/May of last year
Why They are Less Happy 

The raises have helped some – but only 17% indicated the salary increase boosts job satisfaction — they have other drivers. Associates shared their thoughts on the drop in satisfaction:

  • “They expect us to give up our life for them, and we do, I get it. But they could throw me a bone once in a while, just one.”
  • “A thank you would be nice now and then.”
  • “The endless stream of work with nothing but more of the same.”

The less happy associates believe they are not appreciated — and see nothing but endless streams of work.

The Happiest Associates Love the People 

The happiest associates feel appreciated and like the people they work with. Their comments include:

  • “My hard work is noticed, appreciated, and rewarded.”
  • “Love the people!”
  • “I generally like the people I work with.”
  • “Doing good work, with good people, for good clients.”

The power of a simple pat on the back and a smile with an occasional “thank you” are undervalued. Put your compliment in writing and cc a leadership partner and you have just made an associate’s day.

As Mark Twain said — “I can live 2 months on one good compliment.” This could be years for an associate.

Be safe.


The MAD Clientist

(Based on 410 telephone interviews and online surveys conducted with associates just after new salaries were announced and in May 2020.)

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