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Burnout: lawyers’ workload has increased in the pandemic © Vchalup/Dreamstime

The challenge of toxic workplace culture has been revealed in a new survey of lawyers. At a time of fierce competition for talent, the great majority of respondents to the international survey said they would avoid certain (unnamed) firms when seeking a new job because of the risk to their wellbeing and mental health.

Some 340 of the 376 lawyers who took part in the survey, anonymously, said there were some firms they would never join, regardless of the pay on offer.

In the past 12 months, just over a third of the respondents had actively considered leaving the legal profession or changing their specialism, according to RSGi, which carried out the survey for the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers (Europe) report.

“Throwing money at the problem won’t make the problem go away,” said one lawyer.

Another respondent said that, as soon as a client requires a response from lawyers, caring goes out the window: “No firm feels able to say ‘no’ because another firm will say ‘yes’.” 

Lawyers at top tier firms have been in high demand in the past 12 months and many have seen their hours increase.

“I would strongly consider moving to a firm which retains full remote working opportunities post-pandemic,” said one.

  • 90 per cent said that, if they were applying for a job at a law firm now, there are firms they would refuse to work for, regardless of remuneration, because they believe the working culture would impact their wellbeing.

  • 35 per cent have actively considered leaving to work in a different profession or sector in the past 12 months.

  • 30 per cent would accept a reduction in pay in exchange for reduced working hours if this was offered by their organisation.

  • 32 per cent would prefer to have their working hours more strictly limited/regulated by their organisation.

  • 38 per cent do not think the hours they are expected to work are reasonable.

  • 37 per cent said volunteering and pro bono opportunities offered by their firm improve their wellbeing, while 26 per cent said it does not improve their wellbeing; the remaining 37 per cent said it was either not offered or not applicable.

  • 52 per cent were aware their organisation has a published wellbeing policy.

    Source: RSGi

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