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   HIGH TURNOVER RATE of IP attorneys at large firms
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zethus25
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    zethus25


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HIGH TURNOVER RATE of IP attorneys at large firms
« on: Dec 17th, 2007, 2:40pm »
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The turnover rate of IP attorney's at large Manhattan law firms (both boutiques and general practice firms) is ridiculously high.  Over the past five years I spent working for a large boutique I have seen IP attorney's come and go at rate faster than I suspect any other industry has.  I noticed an average attorney lifespan of 2 years.  In recent years, I've actually seen a number of attorney's switch firms less than one year out of out of law school.  After switching to a General practice firm myself, I must say the situation here is not much different than at the boutiques.
 
I believe that the drastic turnover rate is a direct result of the incompetence of IP attorney's as a whole.  There are basically not enough qualified candidates and the number of unqualified greatly outweighs the number of qualified.  Coupled with many legal recruiters trying desperately to place IP attorneys, this has fuelled an industry where bad candidates are basically shuffled from firm to firm and one can expect to work at over three or four different firms in the span of a few years.  
 
I have never seen an industry that functions quit like IP related law firms.  If you were to take a snap shot of such a firm every three years, the only people you would see remaining are the partners and a few high level associates that think they might be up for partner.   The others all seem to come and go more frequently than other careers.
 
I don't think this is a sign of a healthy field.  Rather, I think it spells volumes about the character of the professionals working in it and the operating procedures of the law firms employing these professionals.  
 
Any thoughts as to why IP attorney's can't stay in one place?  Is the firm dynamics that create this result?  Is the result of growing numbers of incompetent attorney's that are forced to switch firms every year to stay a float?  These moves can’t be the result of modest pay increases.  
 
Point in case, I met several attorney’s that worked at a different firm each year for 5 years.  How can any firm take this type of candidate seriously.  Sometimes I feel like I am working in the twilight zone.  Maybe this year I’ll take a few extra vacations and miss my billable hour mark by 400 hours.  Then, after my review at the end of the year, I’ll just go work for another firm doing the very same thing.  If your eyes are opened, you will realize that this is what is happening to our field.  I’m dangerously close to joining the masses of other attorney’s in playing the system.  Who cares about 2,000 billable hours a year, when one could just play the firm “jumping” game for a few years before finally retiring to an in house counsel position.
 
any thoughts?
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Re: HIGH TURNOVER RATE of IP attorneys at large fi
« Reply #1 on: Dec 17th, 2007, 2:55pm »
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I see quite a few people changing jobs in my area too, but rather than a sign of incompetence of individuals, lack of health of the field, I see two major reasons.
 
First, and I think the biggest factor, is that there are several strata of firms in my area (and I expect everywhere).  Some only hire people with 5+ years of experience and pay more and have good working conditions and atmosphere.
 
Some hire new graduates pay less and may or may not have a good atmosphere condusive to long tenures.
 
Of course, many firms fall inbetween.
 
The second reason is people with in-house jobs switching to firms.  In my area, the in-house places tend to hire more students/agents than firms, and don't seem to be really looking to have people stay for a long time.  In-house practitioners definitely get paid less in my area.
 
In my (short) experience, most of the turnover is due to agents going to law school, and attorneys switching between the different "levels" of firms, mostly upwardly.  
 
The firm that I am most familiar with also has a reputation as being a good firm, with good pay.  No one has left this firm, although several people have "upgraded" to this firm, since I've been familiar with it.
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