Lawyer 2B Stress Survey: do firms encourage work-life balance?

Overall, 58 per cent of respondents to Lawyer 2B’s stress survey said that the senior management at their firm encouraged employees to maintain a work-life balance. However, less than half of those felt their management was truly sincere in this.

Trainees and NQs were most trusting that their leaders genuinely believed in maintaining a work-life balance. A pronounced drop-off in trust appears at 1-3PQE level, with 45 per cent of that group saying that management simply paid lip-service to the idea of work-life balance, while by 4PQE level, 42 per cent of respondents didn’t think their senior management even bothered with lip service.

There is something of a rebound at partner level, where 36 per cent of respondents believed their firm was genuine in encouraging work-life balance, 18 per cent believed it was lip service and 39 per cent though their firm made no real effort to encourage a balance.

Stress - encouraging work life balance (by level)

If American firms have a reputation as sweatshops, perhaps it’s because so few of them make any pretence at encouraging work life balance – 70 per cent of lawyers working in US firms felt there was no real effort from their management to encourage it.

By contrast, nearly 70 per cent of magic circle lawyers said their firm did encourage work-life balance – but only a minority believed they were actually being sincere.

Lawyers at small London firms were the most positive about their management’s attitude to work-life balance, with 46 per cent of respondents believing that their firms had a genuine commitment to it.

Stress - encouraging work life balance (by firm type)

Despite this, on average lawyers at US firms rated themselves as less stressed than any other group apart from regional and in-house lawyers. They also appear to work long hours less frequently than their magic circle peers.

On a scale of 1 – 10, what would you say your average level of work-related stress has been over the past year? Average
Magic circle 7.34
Other large London 7.33
High street 7.13
Medium-sized London 7.09
Small London 6.93
National 6.82
US in London 6.79
Regional 6.51
In-house 6.16

Stress in Law survey: full results