Most professionals, including lawyers, have been on work from home mandates for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this has seen a large change in the way that businesses operate and how employees manage their workload.

Many law firms have changed their employee benefit structures and are addressing some long held mental health issues in their employees, specifically those caused by stress and work overload. A recent study has found that more lawyers feel under pressure and stressed now than before the lockdown.

The AML lockdown survey on mental health in the legal sector showed a worrying thirty-seven percent of respondents said they felt depressed in 2021, an uptick of nearly 6 percentage points from 2019; 71% said they have experienced anxiety, up 7 percentage points from 2 years previous; and 14% said they have a different mental illness, up a little over 2 percentage points.

The newest issue seems to be isolation as people are working from home and struggling to adapt to the loss of social interactions provided at the office. Firms across the globe have tried to allow zoom socials or added group activities to keep colleagues engaged, but they have unfortunately not provided the same level of support of direct contact at one’s desk.

The biggest issue I have seen is that the thin line between work/life balance that was strained before COVID-19 has now become essentially invisible. Partners are pressuring associates to work longer hours to accommodate client demands.

These issues have had an important effect on hiring pattes in the legal industry. We are seeing more lawyers wanting to go to firms with a strong culture and who allow for a work/life balance. More companies are using this as a marketing tool rather than the traditional “we work with the largest clients” sales pitch. More associates from the traditional big law firms are moving to more regional/specialised practices and firms that can offer a balance.

It will take a while for firms to truly correct the long-standing issues within the industry but for the firms that can do this first, they will have a glut of associates looking to join their firm as the culture of being available 24/7 365 days a year seems to be coming to an end, at least for the time being.

We are ahead of this trend at DMJ Recruitment offering a variety of roles to suit your specific needs. We can offer positions with companies that have cultivated a positive culture where a quality work/life balance not only exists but thrives.

Posted 12/05/2021 By Jack Horsbrugh

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