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

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.

11 Comments

Just Anonymous

Clearly the remaining 30% have been driven mad by the pressure of work…

(7)(0)
Anonymous

Yeah, so much more stressful than trying to keep people alive on operating tables.

(8)(1)
Paul the heart surgeon

At least when I f*ck up the ‘client’ can’t kick off.

(18)(0)
Waz from Irwinz

I represents the family of that bloke what recently copped it in your operation.

We is issuing a massive claim for negligencd against you, your employer, the theatre nurse and anyone we can find on the electoral with the initials NHS. Our costs are 340 Gs to date.

P.S. Can you lend us a quid for the vendor? Spaffed the bonus on a Zinger meal at lunch.

(8)(2)
Not Amused

What makes law stressful is exactly the same thing that makes it fun – responsibility.

In so many other walks of life there is no personal responsibility for your actions. At the Bar, if you mess up, you pay. As a solicitor, if you mess up, you lose your job. Very few other jobs are like that nowadays. What matters is personal responsibility.

And I am afraid that I exclude from this doctors, family lawyers or criminal lawyers. Yes there might be bad consequences to a mistaken amongst them. But there is no personal responsibility for small errors.

(3)(11)
Anonymous

Huh? What do you mean there is no personal responsibility for doctors, family lawyers or criminal lawyers? Could you not argue that the consequences are even more serious because they could result in someone being imprisoned, losing their children or, y’know, DYING.
Also, how the hell do you work out that you ‘pay’ if you mess up at the Bar, more so than if a doctor messes up?

(1)(0)
Anonymous

NA, have you heard of this thing called indemnity insurance? I can tell you that you would have to cock up monumentally to be fired as a solicitor (unless they want rid of you anyway or you breach the code of conduct). Also, at the Bar, who is going to fire you if you give bad advice or perform poorly? If you’re consistently crap, it will have an impact on your career, but one mistake is not going to ruin you. I had a barrister give shitty advice that eventually led to the client being ordered to pay costs of 200k. He agreed to reduce his fee-note to 10k from 12k. Nothing else happened to him.

(2)(0)
Stressed lawyer

I wake up in a wet bed four mornings a week and sometimes burst into tears for no apparent reason.

Do you think it’s time I sought help?

(1)(1)
Anonymous

If you’re serious, “yes”.

If not, stop mocking the afflicted.

(1)(0)

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