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How important is work/life balance to you?
 
Work/life balance is now the most important single factor for attorneys when they are choosing a new firm.

We’ve just published our salary survey.  Unlike most data available of this kind in the industry our survey is filled in by the attorneys themselves instead of being completed by firms on their behalf.  Therefore, its value we believe is one of perspective – it gives a view point from the grass roots which may differ from general perceptions (or misconceptions).

One of the questions we asked was one of priority, what would candidates want from a prospective employer?  This year work/life balance overtook salary as the most important factor.  Flexible working hours remains unchanged as the fourth most important factor and remote working is the seventh.  Interestingly all of these factors scored higher than defined career progression, bonus structure and benefits package.  So, one might reasonably conclude that a key way to recruit and retain staff would to be ensure that your environment is flexible and open minded.  A friendly atmosphere scored third in the list of priorities so perhaps flexibility goes hand in hand with an environment where people feel comfortable in asking for different working arrangements?  
 
‚ÄčEncouragingly, we found that there is no significant trend suggesting a gender pay gap in the profession according to our survey, with the exception of partner level where men still earn more than women.  To speculate, this may be because the older generation of partners is male dominated and these would be the highest earners, thus skewing the figures.  We would suspect that salaries amongst earlier career partners are more likely to align.

There are some depressing figures on discrimination with almost thirty percent of respondents having experienced work place discrimination in the last two years.  The four key areas where discrimination has most commonly taken place are age, gender/sexual orientation, health (mental or physical) and parental (such as maternity, paternity and pregnancy).  Interestingly, both race and religion scored low by comparison.  Discrimination on these grounds certainly does happen according to respondents but at a lower level. Seventy-eight percent of people experiencing sexual discrimination at work were women but only 35% percent of people witnessing discrimination on others were women.  I thought this was an interesting statistic that one could draw any number of conclusions from.

Fellows and Associates survey of the intellectual property profession is in its seventh year and is painstakingly complied by Michele Fellows.  Each year we ask patent and trade mark attorneys to give their opinions not only on salary but many other factors that impact their career.  This year we had more respondents than ever before.  You can read the full survey here.

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