Two in three lawyers suffered burnout in 12 months, study finds

New research has revealed a worrying two thirds of lawyers reported experiencing burnout as a direct result of their work.

According to recruitment firm Realm Recruit, a further 21% have experienced some degree of stress though stopped short of describing it as burnout.

The study of 202 lawyers found an unmanageable caseload as the most common source of stress with 57% reporting this as the cause. 91% said a more manageable caseload would be a top priority for them if they were to enter the jobs market, up from 62% in 2021.

42% said that a lack of work-life balance was a primary stressor, with 80% saying flexibility would be important to them in their next role.

Other common stressors for lawyers were bad management (39%) and poor or unfair pay (31.8%), which will no doubt be exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis.

“While wellbeing is certainly higher up on the agenda than ever before within the law, sadly, the results of our research indicate that there is still work to do in this area,” said Realm Recruit’s managing director Duane Cormell, adding:

“There’s undoubtedly a correlation between good mental health and employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity, so it makes good business sense for law firms to look after the mental health of their staff.”

On this, however, there are signs that law firms are taking the wellbeing of their people more seriously than before, with 58% of firms now offering mental health first aiders, up from 45% in 2021, and 54% offering free or subsidised access to a counsellor, up from 47.5% in 2021.

What’s more, 55% of lawyers said that their employer contributes fairly well or well to their health and wellbeing, compared to 40% in 2021. However, 31% still felt that their wellbeing was supported by their firm

“Many firms have taken steps to improve staff wellbeing by investing in measures such as subsidised access to a counsellor or gym memberships. However, addressing the most common root causes of workplace stress (unrealistic caseloads, flexible working policies and poor pay) is likely to have more impact, especially in the current cost of living crisis,” concluded Cormell.

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