Law Society survey finds junior lawyers less fulfilled and more anxious
Results of practicing certificate holder survey published
The Law Society published the results of its most recent practicing certificate holder survey on 8 February, which finds low levels of wellbeing amongst junior lawyers.
According to the Law Society’s press release, junior lawyers that participated in the 2022 annual survey said that they experienced low levels of happiness and were less likely to feel fulfilled by their work than other categories of respondents.
More specifically, 77 per cent of respondents felt like their roles fully utilise their skills and abilities, with 67 per cent feeling well supported by their line manager. However, the survey found a 30 per cent increase in participants reporting that their work goes beyond their contracted hours and a 16 per cent increase in the number of legal professionals who find it difficult to relax in their personal time because of work.
Workplace satisfaction was found to be “generally lower” amongst those who work in the top 200 firms, with those working in small firms more likely to find their work meaningful, but also more likely to work beyond their contracted hours. In-house lawyers were generally found to have higher satisfaction ratings, but expressed some concern about career progression.
Various options are provided as to the possible reasons for this lower level of wellbeing felt by junior lawyers, including that junior lawyers may feel less fulfilled because more often than not they are engaged in work that has little or no impact on the organisation, and junior lawyers may feel less rewarded because typically they carry out work that is charged at a lower rate.
The Law Society provides some guidance to firms on what they can do retain junior lawyers in the wake of the “great resignation” that saw many employees reevaluate their work–life balance following the Covid-19 pandemic. Managers are advised to: start an open dialogue with junior lawyers about how they are feeling; gain and raise awareness of the mental health resources available to legal professionals, such as the resources available from LawCare; encourage junior lawyers to become more engaged in their work; treat junior lawyers as colleagues; and explain why the work of a junior lawyer matters to the organisation.
The survey received 1,951 responses and was open to all members of the Law Society. The questions were designed to gather knowledge on the career satisfaction, professional challenges and wellbeing of participants, amongst other things.