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Research: Almost 70% of lawyers believe they work in the most stressful profession

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Workload, client demands and billing targets are to blame

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Nearly 70% of lawyers believe they work in the most stressful profession, according to research published this week.

A study — undertaken by virtual outfit, Keystone Law — questioned more than 300 legal professionals (predominantly associates and partners) from top 50 to 100 UK firms, and it would appear — somewhat unsurprisingly — that being a lawyer is pretty stressful.

According to the stats, 67% of lawyers felt that they were more stressed than those working in other professional sectors such as accountancy or banking, while just 4% believed they had it easier. Only 22% of respondents thought their stress levels were about the same as other professionals.

A whopping 80% of lawyers surveyed cited workload as the number one source of their stress. Other causes mentioned included client demands, billing targets, lack of support, competition and partnership issues.

One ex-City lawyer, who now works flexibly at a new-model law firm, told Legal Cheek:

Lawyers feel constantly stressed out because they can’t afford to take their time with their work. They are under pressure from their clients to get things done quickly (and as cheaply as possible) and from their firms to make as much money as possible.

Interestingly, the research also revealed that a little more than a third of those associates and partners questioned felt that a more flexible approach to working hours would help combat stress. Other changes which lawyers suggested might make their job more “enjoyable” included lower billing targets, better management, more support, and — of course — more cash.

Earlier this week Legal Cheek revealed the results of its exclusive research into the working habits of corporate lawyers. Surveying over 1,500 trainees and junior associates across 56 UK-based firms, Legal Cheek was able to create a comprehensive list of average office arrival and departure times for lawyers.

Among the hardest-working lawyers were those based at the London office of US giant Kirkland & Ellis. According to the stats, associates will arrive in the office around 9:44am but won’t leave till roughly 9:14pm. But before you feel too sorry for them, newly qualified lawyers are — thanks to a dollar-pegged salary — pocketing a whopping £140,000 a year.