How long do lawyers staying in their roles?

Posted in Latest News on 25 Mar 2024

Our latest Douglas Scott salary survey covers a vast array of topics. One of the most interesting aspects is the length of time people spend in their roles.  

Since 2013, our market-leading salary survey has asked these critical questions about how long people spend in roles, what they are earning, what benefits they receive and more. This year’s salary survey throws up some interesting analysis of how long people are now staying in a job, with some regions of the country going up and others going down.  

Let’s start with the headline figure – this year, lawyers were, on average, staying in their jobs four years and one month. This UK-wide figure is down slightly on last year’s figure, which was four years and five months. However, it isn’t a broad variation, and this figure has remained roughly the same for the past few years. (In 2022, the figure was exactly four years.) These figures show that the market remains roughly consistent despite some challenging market conditions over the past few years, which is probably welcome news to employers and employees. However, looking across the United Kingdom, we can see a slightly different picture. For example, across the South-West and Wales, the length of time people have been in roles has been going up year on year, with the average length of time people are spending in roles now four years and five months, up from 2022’s average of about three years and seven months. Yorkshire and the North-East are telling a similar story, with this year’s average being four years and three months, up by three months on last year’s figure, which was up five months on 2022. It’s clear that some focus on retention has been made in these areas, and it will be interesting to see if these figures continue on their upward trajectory.   

On the other end of the spectrum, one region has seen quite a sharp change in the length of time people spend with firms. In the Midlands and Eastern England, people stay in roles for just under four years, which sharply contrasts with 2023’s figure of just under five years. Whereas this region was leading the way for retention last year, it has now slipped back somewhat, with this year’s figure being more in line with the national trends. Regarding the largest market, London, the trends are much the same as across the UK, although the statistics are slightly lower than the national average. (About three years and nine months.) This is expected in a market like London, where things are constantly evolving and changing, and we will keep an eye on this area with interest. The rest of the country's figures broadly follow the national average: the North-West has had the sharpest drop of all these figures, but the average of 4 years and one month matches the national average.   

Overall, these statistics show a market that is, broadly speaking, stable and following a regular trend. Unlike last year, there are no significant outliers in the figures (last year, the Midlands and Eastern England stood very much apart from the regions of the UK), which hopefully is a sign of a healthy, stable market. We will follow developments regarding this area throughout the year and see how the market changes in next year’s salary survey. 

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