Law second most pressure-filled profession

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Ahead of healthcare, education and finance, research suggests

In what won’t come as a surprise to many of our readers, new research has suggested that nearly two-thirds of lawyers are struggling with stress.

The findings, produced by insurance provider Protectivity, found that 63% of legal professionals feel stressed, compared to 54% in the retail, catering and leisure industry. The only sector to rank higher than law on the stress-o-meter was HR, with a whopping 79%. Other industries to feature include IT/telecoms (53%), healthcare (52%), education (51%) and finance (46%).

Manufacturing appears to be the sector with the most chilled out workers, with just 32% reporting feeling the pressure.

Researchers also produced a breakdown of stress levels by UK city, with Cardiff (55%) taking the top spot, ahead of Edinburgh (53%), Manchester (53%) and Southampton (51%). Rather surprisingly, London could only muster tenth position with a stress score of 44% — anyone travelling on the tube during rush hour will surely disagree.

Elsewhere, researchers found that over half of respondents (53%) watched TV or films to combat stress, while 46% listened to music. Other stress-busting activities included eating snacks and sweet treats (25%) and consuming alcohol (19%).

The research follows similar findings, this time by CV-Library, an online job website, which showed that 70% of UK legal workers were feeling the strain at work — just outpacing the national average of 68%.

Meanwhile, research published yesterday by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) found that one in 15 young solicitors had experienced suicidal thoughts within the past month.

Feeling stressed? You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK



If you can’t handle it, other professions are available.



Poor things feeling all stressed.



Stats like these are obvious products of the legal sectors feminisation.





Dechert White Shoe NQ

Pressure is what I thrive on.






since when is Dechert a white shoe firm ?



I don’ get stressed, I treat pressure a challenge. Keep it calm and carry-on.



A brown shoe one.






Those who say they “thrive on it” when referring to pressure make me laugh so much! Usually from people who haven’t got any pressure.



*waiting for the predictable comment that you need pressure to make diamonds*



I wonder how much of HR being top is the fact that firing people is the most unpleasant part of pretty much any job (unless you’re a total psychopath); and how much of it is to do with HR professionals having to deal with other people’s stress and so being more likely to see it in themselves.



I can see that the bar will always be a pressured job. Barristers are on the spot.

But solicitors’ pressure just comes from firms’ greed. They want as few people as possible to do as much as possible. Long nights, threats of job loss, bollockings, it’s all unnecessary. If the industry wasn’t so self-important and greedy this would all disappear.



The survey is of the real legal profession, not the 5% of the legal profession that work in the handful of city firms and commercial chambers that Legal Cheek covers. Stress often comes from having to do lots of individually easy things quickly / at the last minute / all at once. Covering a Court Duty Slot is piss easy as the case load is remands not trials. But dealing with 8 cases at once in three different courts, with all of them shouting at you as to why you are not ready on the 8 cases they gave you 10 minutes ago is stressful. Proof reading a standard form contract isn’t intellectually difficult, but its stressful when you are given ten of them to do at the last minute.

Junior doctors spend a lot of their time running around dealing with large numbers of individually easy cases whereas consultants spend their time dealing with a smaller number of very serious ones, but most doctors will tell you they were most stressed when they were F1s.

Legal Education prepares students very badly for practice compared to medical training. The hours you put in on a degree and the speed at which you have to work simply bear no relation to practice. There are commentators on the Oxbridge thread seriously arguing that because Oxbridge students have to do 30 hours work a week they are vastly intellectually superior. Seriously, not even working normal full time hours is intellectually rigours? Try doing a medical degree at any university. Medical training prepares medics for doing long hours and dealing with competing priorities. Those who can’t do it drop out or fail at the undergraduate stage. Legal education does not. Nothing that a junior lawyer has to do is remotely as stressful as a 16 hour A&E shift, where people will die if you fuck up. But medics are less stressed.



Is 30 hours considered a lot? Honestly, that is nothing compared to what we do in Australia.

Here is an example of one of my busier semesters:

I generally had classes 9-5 (back to back—no breaks) on Tuesday and Friday (80% LAWS / 20% ARTS). To do the readings for those classes thoroughly, I will make the conservative approximation of 11hrs per Law Subject (Per Week). There is at least 35+ hrs per week of reading on a standard 3 Laws + 1 ARTS load. Roughly, 51 hours per week.

On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, I spent 8:30-6:00 at a big International Law Firm as a Litigation Paralegal.

Effectively, I spent every evening until late and weekends doing readings. Otherwise, I was in a lecture or at the office. I even took an Ivy League Executive Education program on top of that load.

Point being, I felt al this prepared me well for practice. I glided into a top tier seamlessly. The pressure isn’t anything new. I’m numb to it. Maybe I’m one of those psychos. I don’t know.

PS. This is at University of New South Wales; This intensity applies for Priestley 12 ‘core’ subjects—after that, electives are pretty chill



Personally, I don’t think 30 hours a week is a lot, but it’s probabley about what I put in at Uni 30 years ago. At Bar School I had to hand in one PTX a week. I had ages to read them, look up the law, prepare everything and then do the exercise. 1st Day of my 2nd Six I was handed three cases with the tube journey to read and prepare them. There is a masssive jump between how you have to work as a student and how you have to work in practice. It’s a very big jump and it not surprising that the drop out rate for law in the first five years is very high and people are very stressed. Nothing I did at Uni or Bar School really prepared me for practice and it was a massive culture shock starting off.



“I even took an Ivy League Executive Education program on top of that load.”

Obviously that wasn’t my load, if you know what I mean.



ooo you’re hard.



Your problem is that you pulled a figure of 30 hrs out of thin air.

HEPI data shows that law students at Oxford spend 47 hrs per week in private study (39 hrs 18 m) and timetabled work (7 hr 48 m). In practice this prepares people very well for employment.



The 30 hours was from the statements of Oxford undergrads on the thead. But you are rather missing my point. In practice you don’t get 30 or 47 hours to prepare anything. You will have an hour or two. I found that I massive change when I started in practice 30 years ago. Every pupil I’ve supervised regardless of which University they went to also found it so. Undergraduate degrees just does not similulate practice at all in the same way a medical degree does.


Predictable comment

You need pressure to make diamonds, son.

*pats you on the back with unsettling force, before chuckling mischievously and taking a swig from a coffee cup which actually belongs to a trainee in Private Client*


Scouser of Counsel

I’m surprised that medicine isn’t considered more stressful given that someone could lose their life if you mess up.

In law it’s liberty, money or children that are usually at risk.



It can be life too – a negative outcome in a case can indirectly cause people to take their own lives, take drugs, become bankrupt etc.


Scouser of Counsel

Good point!



Which is why fees should always be on account.



Wow. The people who proclaim it’s ‘the best job in the world’ have always been full of crap.



I disagree.

I’m lurvin it



Any reason Legal Cheek why you are deleting coments questioning that law is really that stressfull compared to say medicine? All jobs where you have to make descions have a certain amount of stress. But are also more interesting to do. When you are newley qualified it is very stressful as you don’t know what you are doing. Junior doctors do 16 hour shifts where fucking up means people die. But are apparently reporting lower levels of stress. Could that be that legal education is both expensive and crap as its run by private equity firms rather than not for profit teaching hospitals and fails to prepare students for the stress of practice whereas medical education does?



Your world view is extraordinarily narrow. May I take this opportunity to highlight that 16 hour days (and nights) are not uncommon for lawyers. Moreover, not all lawyers are in profit making organisations. Take lawyers working for charities as one example. The fact is, there is stress for any vocational profession and here are differing kinds of stress.



Other professions have stresses, but other professions self-evidently deal with those stresses whereas lawyers do not do so as well. Not disagreeing with you that 16 hour days are stressful. But this is not something unique to law. All of the other professions cited in the survey have their own stresses. So why do lawyers feel significantly more stressed than other professions with similar hours and decision making responsibilities?

I don’t think you can credibly argue that there is something intrinsically more stressful about law than medicine, accountancy, being shot at as an army recruit or precariously dangling off tall buildings as a construction worker. But lawyers report much higher levels of than other professions.

I don’t buy that is because lawyers are all snowflakes whereas medics, accountants etc are all hard as nails. I’d suggest that it does have something to do with the fact that law degrees and the LPC are not as good at preparing students for practice as other professions training systems. The LPC and BVTC as generally (correctly) regarded as completely useless by law students, whereas most medics do feel that the training they went through helped deal with the stress of practice.



Why have you deleted half the comments again? Up to you, but the only reason anyone comes to the site is to read the comments. The one’s you’ve deleted aren’t offensive and even if they were, we are grown ups and can deal with it. A lot a silly, some are decent banter and some even actually provide useful informtion. When you just cull almost every comment for no apparent reason, not much point visiting.


Legal Farmer

Well that’s me screwed as I work in legal and healthcare for my sins. I’m going to be stressed.


Eric R. Finkelman

HR feeling more stressed? Not sure what they have to be stressed about. The lawyers in-house do much more of the “heavy lifting”.



While it is true that traditional law school does not prepare you too well for the rigours of actual worklife in the law, some schools do have clinics and mock firms as part of the training. These do give a little more realistic view of the demands and variety of work, but I still agree that the time crunch and desk drops of multiple firm Partners cannot be fully replicated. When starting as a new associate over two decades ago, I had learned to always ask “when/how soon do you need this?”, and then manage the “as soon as possibles” by the rank of proximity to my cubicle (i.e. how fast they can come back and check, or gripe); being ahead of the “pretty urgent” but behind the “right away”. Lol.


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