Research: lawyers face more pressure than any other British worker

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Legal profession workers are massively more stressed out and pissed off than the average worker, a leading solicitors’ firm discovers after sending in the survey boffins


Slater & Gordon — the Anglo-Australian mega-practice and alternative business structure — is set to release research this week illustrating the intense pressures legal professionals are under.

According to the firm’s figures, while 37% of workers across the board in the UK report that stress has made them under-perform at work, 52% of lawyers claim to be in that boat.

Likewise, 39% of workers generally have called in sick because of stress, but 54% of those in the legal sector have had to pass a day in front of the telly owing to too much pressure at work.

And, according to S&G, about a third of respondents in the legal sector have been so stressed they have cried at work, and not just when getting sight of the drawings of their law firm’s senior partnership.

Slater & Gordon reckons the most astonishing result from its survey is the finding that lawyers and other legal sector workers are most likely to feel there is a stigma to admitting that job stress is impacting on their health — 82% compared to 71% nationally.

The legal profession figures form part of a wider survey of stress in the modern British workplace. It found that more than half of workers say job pressures make them feel constantly stressed with millions reporting insomnia, hair loss and panic attacks.

Almost a third said the stress from their jobs had at times left them struggling to complete basic everyday tasks, but just 20% said they would be comfortable telling their boss they were stressed.

The firm’s researchers cite 10 leading causes of stress:

Too much work

Unrealistic deadlines

Insufficient pay for hours worked and duties performed

Work hours eating into private life

Fear of missing targets

An expectation to work overtime

Undue scrutiny/micromanagement by bosses

Harassment by bosses/colleagues

Fear of redundancy

Relationships with colleagues

Slater & Gordon employment lawyer Harriet Bowtell commented:

“The UK workforce is known to work some of the longest hours in Europe and this research confirms that work pressures, including hours, are making people ill.”

“Most jobs come with certain pressures from time to time, but your employer has a responsibility to ensure that they are not causing you to have genuine health problems because of the workplace environment.”


Jon Harman

Yep, when an industry calls people management “soft skills” and has such unhealthy management (or non-existant management principles) it is quite little surprise. It really needs to change as it is such a detrimental aspect of the legal industry.


A Nother

Very interesting that Slater&Gordon commissioned this work. As a former employee I can tell you that their methods of managing workplace stress are not the strongest. I hope they pay attention to their own findings.


Gowan Clews

It’s not helpful for any profession to claim its members are more stressed / underpaid / etc than others. Just leads to pointless tit-for-tat comparisons.

Lawyers have a job, and are paid more than living wage i.e. £8.80/hr (London) or £7.60/hr elsewhere. Puts them in a much better place than millions in this country



They may well do Gowan, but working in a law firm I know the hours that lawyers put in and believe me their hourly rate is less than the minimum wage when they are doing 12+ hour days. There is a lot of stigma attached to lawyers (money grabbing springs to mind) but being a client does not in any way give you an insight in to what goes on behind the scenes. It’s attitudes like yours which give such hardworking professions a bad name.



I’m sorry Gordon, but what utter rubbish.

Yes, lawyers are generally paid more than the minimum wage but does it not occur to you that they have to train around 6 years to get to that stage?

Do you begrudge them more than the minimum wage for that training? Also, the profession are suffering large amounts of redundancies at present. Many of my friends (who have invested many years and lots of money to get where they are) have been made redundant of late. But don’t let these little facts get in the way of your lazy, anti lawyer ignorance.



Here here Matt and Anon. Agree completely with your comments. Its such a shame that anti lawyer ignorance is so rife in the UK especially as so many of us in the profession genuinely want to do the best they can hence 12 hour days no sleep stress hair loss and generally feeling disconnected from their families.



Trio. “Hear, hear” not “here, here”. Sorry, but can’t let you get away with that whilst claiming others to be ignorant.


Gowan Clews

The issues raised by the report regrettably apply to many other professions. None are unique to lawyers. Other professionals train for many years like you, and have these problems.

Fear of redundancy is very real to many people, and finding another job when you reach 50 can be soul destroying.

Over the years lawyer friends have told me about their work/life balance, or lack of, and how they dealt with it. Back in 2010 another lawyer described the now terrifying G4S scenario, where justice is effectively privatised with one company responsible for a person from court to prison.


Uncle Solicitor

There is nothing quite as stressful as being in the firm’s boardroom without whiskey, and when, as has happened, my secretary Miss Murphy manages to escape my clutches.


Richard Stokes

Lawyers don’t have it anywhere near as hard as bankers whose hours and stress levels are even more pronounced.



I’ve worked for 8years in the investment banking industry and know many magic circle firm lawyers. Anyone who feels lawyers aren’t the most stressed profession and feels they are over compensated for what they do, simply doesn’t have first hand experience. SOURCE: My ex-partner of 10yrs is a lawyer (And it broke our marriage), working 7-days a week, 18hr days 5 out of 7, missing family weddings/funerals/their children’s birthday parties, health disorders, post grad studies “in their spare time” and the reputation of large clients (and often their employees jobs) weighted firmly on their shoulders (If they get it wrong – they lose their license and therefore life of hard work down the toilet too!). So takes it’s toll on even the most resilient human beings. Walk a week in the shoes of these lawyers and their families and you’ll understand.


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