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ANALYSIS: Survey Data Exposes Roots of Attorney Dissatisfaction

March 17, 2021, 10:53 AM

Long hours, burnout, and compounding stress from the Covid-19 pandemic may all have a hand in low job satisfaction among attorneys, according to results released this month from Bloomberg Law’s Attorney Workload and Hours Survey.

The results of the survey of 1,554 law firm and in-house attorneys show defining differences between the 6% of respondents reporting the lowest job satisfaction scores (0 to 2 on a 0–10 scale) and the majority (59%), who rate their job satisfaction in the 7-to-10 range.

Overworked and Burnt Out

Unsatisfied attorneys are working longer hours than satisfied ones. In-house attorneys with the lowest satisfaction scores are working an average of 60.9 hours per week. That’s 11 hours more than in-house attorneys with high satisfaction scores. In law firms, the most unsatisfied attorneys are working 57.8 hours per week, about four hours more per week on average than the most satisfied ones.

The most unsatisfied attorneys also report experiencing job burnout more frequently. While more than eight out of 10 attorneys have experienced burnout at some point, those who say they are most unsatisfied say they feel burnt out 74% of the time, on average—more than twice as frequently as the most satisfied attorneys.

Well-Being Threatened by Pandemic

The pandemic has, not surprisingly, had negative impacts on attorney well-being.

More than one-third of the most unsatisfied attorneys (39%) report a major decrease in their well-being as a result of the pandemic, and 71% report a reduction in work-life balance. But among the most satisfied attorneys, only 7% report a major decrease in their well-being, and 39% report a reduction in work-life balance.

Bloomberg Law has resources available for free on our In Focus: Lawyer Well-Being page, including links to assistance programs, if you are currently experiencing hardship.

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

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To contact the reporter on this story: Linda Ouyang in Washington at louyang@bloombergindustry.com

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