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Research on young lawyer experiences shows opportunities for change

29 June 2016

A ground-breaking report on the experiences of new New Zealand lawyers shows some areas which the profession must consider and then act upon, the New Zealand Law Society says.

The report summarises research carried out by law graduate Josh Pemberton which included 40 hour-long interviews and a survey of over 800 junior lawyers. A copy of the report is available here.

It was funded by the Law Foundation and supported by the New Zealand Law Society and Otago University Law Faculty.

"It was important to fund this study to provide a baseline of solid information rather than anecdotes. Using this research, the profession can consider ways to better prepare and retain the best young talent entering the profession," says Law Foundation Director Lynda Hagen.

Key areas covered are work satisfaction, work-life balance, remuneration, retention, the effectiveness of legal education, and the experience of junior women lawyers.

"What has been anecdotal has now been backed up by some firm research. Our legal profession has the chance to consider ways in which new lawyers can be better prepared for their work and how they can receive better support and assistance in developing their careers," Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.

"The profession needs to think hard about some of the findings. Seven out of 10 of the new lawyers surveyed found being a lawyer was highly or moderately stressful. The balance between work and life, along with remuneration has to be considered. And two-thirds of junior women lawyers felt their gender had a negative impact on their prospects."

"Positively, the majority of junior lawyers who participated were satisfied with their work. What the report says, however, is that there are several areas where employers and the whole profession can and must change if they want to ensure that new lawyers are better encouraged, mentored and supported.

"The people who participated in the research are within their first five years as lawyers. They are the future of our profession. It is essential that we listen to their views and experiences and look at how we can change to give them a better pathway on their journey to becoming the profession's leaders."

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Last updated on the 29th June 2016