‘Toxic work culture’ impacting productivity, say half of legal workers

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New research finds nearly two fifths feel less engaged with their roles as a result

Half of legal workers say their productivity has been impacted by ‘toxic workplace culture’, new research has found.

The findings, produced by software business Culture Shift, further show almost two fifths (38%) of those surveyed have been less engaged with their roles as a result of their workplace culture, while a little over a fifth (21%) having taken time off due to an incident which occurred at work. Seventeen percent reported calling in sick as a result of an incident.

The report also found that more than a quarter of legal workers (29%) would quit their current role as soon as they could find a new job, if they encountered or witnessed bullying or harassment. Nearly half of the 100 or so respondents (46%) said they would encourage a colleague to lawyer-up if they knew they were experiencing toxic workplace behaviour.

“The real impact of toxic workplace culture shouldn’t be underestimated. Often, people presume that problematic behaviour only impacts those experiencing it, however our research shows otherwise,” commented Gemma McCall, CEO of Culture Shift.

There are major financial implications, too.

Researchers say absenteeism is costing businesses billions through lost productivity, while those on the receiving end of bullying and harassment receive an average payout of £381,350. They also found, on average, employees are personally footing bills of £1,629 for things like therapy and legal fees.

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McCall added:

“It’s not just the cost of legal fees and pay-outs which businesses need to be aware of, but having a toxic workplace culture directly impacts the bottom line through lost working hours, having to recruit new employees and paying temporary staff to cover long-term sick leave. In addition, problematic workplace behaviour can impact an investor’s decision on whether or not to provide funding.”

The legal profession has been blighted by reports of toxic workplace cultures.

An unnamed female partner grabbed headlines in 2020 after she went public with her decision to quit the “toxic” law firm she worked at for 13 years. Taking to forum Reddit, the lawyer explained how she felt overworked and undervalued, with workplace adjustments flatly ignored.

Struggling with the stress of work? Contact LawCare via its helpline or live chat.



LC could post that partners punch trainees – and yet applications for these firms would still be in their thousands.

Students attracted to corporate law desire status, money and brag rights. These stories unfortunately will never put them off until they experience the sector first hand.



Which firm is this happening at? Name and shame!



The first rule about law firm fight club…


Anonymous - 2 year PQE

I love my job, and the work, and I get on well with almost every client. Sure, there are time pressures, deadlines, difficult counter-parties, and the occasional panic inducing error. However, I can handle all of that (as many others can too). That is part and parcel of the job.

What you can never be truly prepared for, are the relentless politics, the supervisor that berates you, unfair criticism, the unreasonable (and sometimes impossible to reach) expectations, the lack of support, self-doubts, the fragility of your reputation to seniors. It is those things that truly make this professional stressful.



The real issue is the partners and near-partners, frankly. They know that no one will hold them to account for anything, be it nepotism, bullying, sexism, racism or just generally being a total prat. Even the SRA prefers to target junior lawyers.



Oh gosh. Who would have imagined that a profession compromised in part of people who help criminals get away with it and others who help the powerful bully the weak with legal threats is full of toxic people? I can’t even believe it. Surely the legal profession is full of paragons of exemplary behaviour and this story is somehow deceiving us?



I rarely say this (in fact I think I’ve never said it), but you are not entitled to an opinion.



A work relationship is a lot like a real ship. It needs to be moving forward, it needs to be properly maintained.


Im a fully qualified life coach

Self esteem, I’ve always thought self esteem is a lot like actual steam. You cant see it. But its definitely there.


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