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ANALYSIS: Satisfied Lawyers Bill More But Work—and Stress—Less

Nov. 16, 2021, 10:00 AM

Just under half (49%) of attorneys surveyed by Bloomberg Law reported a job satisfaction score of 7 or higher on a scale from 0–10 in the third quarter, the same as in the previous quarter. But where does that satisfaction come from?

The latest Bloomberg Law Attorney Workload and Hours Survey asked 559 attorneys about their job satisfaction, workload, and general well-being over the third quarter. Results revealed that satisfaction is about more than just hours spent working. Factors such as burnout, well-being, and even self-care appear to play a role in attorney satisfaction.

Still, it’s probably no surprise that satisfied attorneys (those with scores of 7 and above) are working slightly fewer hours per week—while also billing more time—than attorneys with lower satisfaction scores. Satisfied attorneys are working 27% more hours than what they bill, while unsatisfied attorneys (the 9% of respondents with satisfaction scores of 0–2) reported working 36% more hours than what they bill.

Overall, attorneys are experiencing burnout 45% of the time. But looking at burnout by job satisfaction scores tells a much different story. Satisfied attorneys experienced burnout 28% of the time. In contrast, attorneys who reported a 0–2 satisfaction score experienced burnout over three-quarters of the time. And the 42% of attorneys in the middle—those who reported a 3–6 satisfaction score—experienced burnout 56% of the time.

Attorneys were also asked how their well-being has changed over the past quarter. Two-thirds of unsatisfied attorneys reported that their well-being has worsened during Q3. Meanwhile, among satisfied attorneys, only 18% reported that their well-being has worsened over the past quarter.

Self-care, in particular, was found to have a statistically significant relationship with attorney job satisfaction. As hours spent per week engaging in self-care went up, so did job satisfaction scores. Satisfied attorneys spent an average of six hours per week on self-care, while unsatisfied attorneys spent only three and a half.

Everyone can find related content available for free on our In Focus: Lawyer Well-Being page.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our Surveys, Reports & Data Analysis and In Focus: Lawyer Development pages.

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