At 18%, Law Firm Associate Attrition Rate Continues 2-Year Decline

Associate attrition rates and hiring levels at law firms fell for the second year in a row in 2023, according to a recent report by the NALP Foundation.

In the last two years, associate attrition rates have gone down from 26% in 2021 to 20% in 2022 and 18% in 2023. Meanwhile, associate hiring, which continues to outpace pre-pandemic levels, has also decreased, with 5,236 hires, falling below the 6,786 tracked in 2022.

“Starting with the pandemic years we saw high levels of attrition, and we’re starting to see those attrition levels start to revert to what we saw pre-pandemic,” said Jennifer Mandery, vice president for research at the NALP Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the National Association for Law Placement with a focus on improving the quality and delivery of legal services. “Those high levels, when it peaked during the pandemic at 26% in 2021, were very concerning but they have since reverted back.”

The data came from 128 law firms about associate hiring and departures during calendar year 2023, according to NALP Foundation researchers.

The 3,875 departures in 2023 tracked by the foundation were evenly split between the first and second halves of the year, but rates declined in the fall after reported salary raise announcements, according to the report.

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