Mentors and Retention: Do Mentors Stem the Flow of Talent from Law Firms?

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.02 (Tower One)
Fiona Kay, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
A growing body of research suggests that professional service firms face challenges with turnover, especially of racial minorities (Gorman and Kay 2010; Payne-Pikus, Hagan and Nelson 2010; Wilkins 1999) and women (Beckman and Phillips 2005; Noonan and Corcoran 2004). When professionals leave firms, do they leave for competing firms, or do they leave firm environments altogether? Rather than concentrating on the duration of first jobs, or the flow of professionals between rival firms in their early career years, I explore the issue of longer term retention of professionals within firms as a sector within the labor market. The source of data for this study comes from a longitudinal survey of Canadian law firm lawyers, tracking careers across a twenty year span. Using piecewise exponential survival models, I examine transitions out of law firms. This study reveals a pervasive gender difference that is not explained by human capital, organizational characteristics, or levels of job satisfaction. The study pays close attention to the role of job satisfaction, workplace policies of flexible time scheduling, and the contributions of mentors to reducing turnover from firms.