For Law Students

Join Now

Diving deeper: More millennial lawyer survey results


In response to my recent column, Money Matters: 2016 Millennial Lawyer Survey Results, a reader asked if survey results varied by firm size. In the prior post, I noted that compensation was the top reason survey respondents left firms and a top contributor to job satisfaction.

The reader was interested in knowing whether perspectives on compensation differed among millennial lawyers at firms of different sizes. A deeper dive into the data revealed the answers to this question and others below.

Earlier this year, I partnered with Above the Law and Ms. JD on a survey of millennial lawyers. The online survey was open to lawyers who were born in 1980 or after. The survey received approximately 600 responses. Although certain questions only applied to specific situations, questions generally received at least 250 responses.

Top contributors to job satisfaction

When Millennial lawyers were asked what factors (up to three) contributed most to their job satisfaction, the top three answers overall were:

The people I work with: 66%
The work I do: 63%
My compensation: 56%

Broken down by firm size, these responses were still the top three for all firm size ranges. Here is the breakdown:

Firm size The people I work with The work I do My compensation
1-10 54% 71% 50%
11-49 72% 41% 44%
50-100 73% 79% 68%
101-250 76% 62% 62%
251-500 67% 63% 48%
501+ 64% 65% 60%

The answers by gender (for firms of all sizes) were as follows:

Gender The people I work with The work I do My compensation
Female 71% 60% 46%
Male 62% 65% 62%

Other responses to the question regarding top contributors to job satisfaction showed some differences based on gender, as well as some similarities:

Gender Firm’s prestige Likelihood of partnership My mentor My clients
Female 12% 8% 21% 19%
Male 22% 22% 22% 18%


In our survey, we also asked about diversity, including, “How important was the firm’s commitment to diversity in your decision to join the firm?” Here is the breakdown by firm size for each response category:

Firm size Very important Important Somewhat important Not important
1-10 6% 17% 17% 60%
11-49 5% 3% 33% 60%
51-100 6% 5% 39% 50%
101-250 4% 12% 44% 40%
251-500 14% 29% 32% 25%
501+ 11% 26% 30% 34%

At firms of all sizes, “diversity in firm leadership” was one of the top factors students used to evaluate a firm’s diversity.

Not surprisingly, there was some divergence in the responses between men and women on the question, “How important was the firm’s commitment to diversity in your decision to join the firm?”

Gender Very important Important Somewhat important Not important
Female 14% 31% 31% 24%
Male 5% 11% 28% 56%

Saying goodbye

For those who had left a firm in the past 24 months, we asked the Millennial lawyers to identify their primary reasons for leaving. Again, there were some noteworthy similarities and differences by gender:

Gender Hours/workload Compensation Did not see a future at the firm
Female 15% 13% 16%
Male 14% 30% 26%

Finally, we also asked Millennial lawyers who had left jobs in the past 24 months whether they had told their firms the real reason they were leaving. For both men and women, the results were virtually identical: About two-thirds shared the real scoop.

Grover E. Cleveland Grover E. Cleveland is a Seattle lawyer, speaker and author of "Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer" (West 2010). He specializes in programs to help millennial lawyers successfully transition from law school to practice, helping them provide more value and avoid common mistakes. He is a former partner at Foster Pepper PLLC, one of the Northwest’s larger firms. His clients included the Seattle Seahawks and other entities owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. he is a frequent presenter on lawyer career success for millennial lawyers at leading law firms and schools nationwide. Some of the questions in this column come from those programs. Readers may submit questions on his site or Twitter accounts. He is not related to the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. A second edition of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks will be published this fall. Submit anecdotes to be considered for inclusion here.