Most associates want to work fewer hours, while a significant
number want more tools to help them work remotely – but most
are happy with the firm they joined, says new study.
Around half of law firms in Spain and Portugal do not provide
their associates with career plans tailored to meet their
individual needs, despite the vast majority of associates believing
that it would be a good idea, new research by Iberian Lawyer
A survey of associates at law firms in Spain and Portugal found
that nine out of ten (88 per cent) thought that law firms should
provide associates with career paths tailored to meet their
individual needs. However, 47 per cent of respondents said their
firm had not provided them with a tailored career path. The study
also revealed that the majority (59 per cent) of associates said
they wanted to work fewer hours – around half (49 per cent)
of the respondents to the survey said they worked at least 51 hours
per week, with 14 per cent working at least 60 hours per week.
In a possible indication that workflow is increasing for law
firms in Iberia, nearly half (46 per cent) of associates said their
working hours had increased in the last year, with 11 per cent of
respondents saying their working hours had increased by more than
10 per cent in the last 12 months. Associates said their working
lives could be improved by more remote working and "fixed
working hours". One associate called for "senior partners
to limit working hours", while another said there should be
"more flexibility about the way we work in terms of presence
at the office". Almost one in three associates (30 per cent)
said their firm did not provide them with "sufficient
tools" to facilitate remote working.
The majority (79 per cent) of participants in the survey stated
that their aim was to become a partner, though one in five said
reaching the partnership was not their objective. Forty-one per
cent of study participants said they thought their prospects of
becoming a partner had improved in the last year, though 12 per
cent believed their prospects had got worse. However, there
generally appears to be a lack of understanding among associates
about what is required to make partner. A total of 59 per cent of
respondents said their firm does not "communicate clearly what
is needed to make partner". As one respondent remarked, this
situation could be rectified by "clear, objective, known
career rules", while another called for "transparency
about the way to be promoted".
Most associates appear to be happy working at their current
firm. A total of 79 per cent said that, if they began their career
over again with the knowledge they have now, they would join the
same firm, though one in five said they would not.
More 'honesty' needed
One respondent was clearly unhappy at their current firm and
called for more "honesty" from partners. The respondent
added: "We need open-minded partners. The existing partners
are clearly from the past, do not realise that the world has
changed, are not up-to-date on legal developments, rely on
associates to get the work done and live in constant fear of having
their weaknesses revealed."
A total of 58 associates at law firms in Spain and Portugal took
part in the study, which was conducted via an online survey in May
and June 2016. A total of 57 per cent of respondents had been
practising as a lawyer for ten years or more, 19 per cent for seven
to nine years, 17 per cent for four to six years, and 7 per cent
for one to three years. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents were
male, 43 per cent were female.
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