More than 60% of legal professionals experienced burnout in the last year, research shows

updated on 18 January 2023

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New research has revealed that two-thirds of legal professionals have experienced “burnout” primarily due to “unmanageable workload” and a lack of “work/life balance”.

Realm Recruit, a specialist legal recruitment agency, undertook the research as part of an annual survey of more than 200 lawyers. The results showed that 21% of participants often felt stressed at work, with 58% citing an “unmanageable caseload” and 42% “work/life balance” as the reason for this. A difficult commute, unfair pay and a lack of flexibility were also named as contributing factors.

Despite these results, the survey also showed a positive shift in law firms’ focus on overall wellbeing. For example, mental health first aiders were available at 50% of the participants’ workplaces, compared to just 48% the year before. Similarly, 54% of respondents had access to a free or subsidised counselling service, a figure that has risen more than 5% in a year.

However, almost one-third of respondents still felt that their wellbeing wasn’t supported by their current firm. This research is in line with another recent survey of associates conducted by Thomson Reuters, which found that associates were willing to leave their current firm due to feeling “underappreciated”.

Realm Recruit's report supported this as results highlighted the importance of workload, with 91% of lawyers stating that a more “manageable caseload” would be a top priority for them.

Duane Cormell, Realm Recruit’s managing director, commented: “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.”

The recruitment firm continues to support charities such as LawCare in offering free, confidential, emotional support to anyone working in the law.