By now, most firm leaders agree that the last three years fundamentally changed the practice and the way they look at most things, including associate development and mentorship. At the management level, most also seem to think that the shift to remote work had some impact on associates’ practical and interpersonal development, but the question of whether there’s a looming crisis of inexperience remains open.

When we asked junior partners a similar question—whether they feel they can get quality work from associates assigned to them—as part of a mid-2022 survey, we got more pointed responses. Numerous new partners say they felt associates’ overall attitudes and work product had declined during COVID-19, a result of isolation and a favorable job market that distorted inexperienced lawyers’ notions of “paying their dues.”

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