Assistant solicitors air their disquiet

US firms will be pretty pleased with the results of the ZMB/The Times survey. It reveals, among other things, that more than one in three assistants planning to change jobs in the next year would consider moving to a US firm.

Not only that, but these same assistants are more interested in the reputation of the US firm's

London offices than their headquarters across the Atlantic and, as these London offices are currently on the prowl for the right people, this is great news for them.

Equally interesting is the fact that half of those considering a move would look in-house for a position, while one in five would be interested in a law firm associated with an accountancy firm. One of the reasons cited for such a strong interest in accountancy firms is their different management style.

This suggests that assistants are looking for management training – a fact which law firms should take note of if they want to motivate and keep their assistants.

On a bleaker note for the profession, 38 per cent of assistants are looking to leave the legal field altogether.

The survey is interesting in that it explodes a number of myths – one of them being that big is beautiful. It reveals that firms with more than 80 partners are saddled with the most unhappy employees – which may be of some consolation to the medium-sized firms, and a fact which they can turn to their advantage.

However, smaller firms are also failing to find the feelgood factor and, like the larger firms, are finding it more and more difficult to motivate their staff.

All in all, such surveys provide food for thought for firms which need to keep their best lawyers – at a time when demand for their services is greater than ever.