Among the lawyers I know in my peer group, there was an incredibly steep drop-off rate when it came to high-paced jobs.
This usually accelerated, from what they told me, at about the seven- to 10-year mark of their legal careers.
At that point, concerns over work-life balance came to the fore, and some of my peers explained that the cost of a job where the client always came first, regardless of their own well-being, was too high.
This is why a report that lawyers who may have high status may have health issues was not surprising, at least not to me.
As reported in Legal Feeds, at a presentation at the Action Group on Access To Justice’s Access to Justice Week, University of Toronto sociology professors Ronit Dinovitzer and PhD student Jonathan Koltai discussed their recent work and the imperative for the legal community to meet challenges it faces in mental health.
They discussed research that indicated that the more lawyers get paid, the more likely they are to experience depression, dissatisfaction with their career choice and work-life balance conflict.
“The problem here doesn’t start with behaviours at the individual level. It has sources in the way work is organized from the top down, in the organizational climates that require or at least glorify extreme work hours and in those environments that provide very little opportunity for workers to balance responsibilities in their competing life domains,” Koltai said.
Status does not equate happiness. Gruelling hours take a toll. These are important issues that need to be raised profession-wide. The stigma around mental health issues is eroding, and studies like this support better pathways to success.