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Editorial - The lawyers are sad

Yes, the lawyers are sad, but not as sad as pharmacists. At least that's according to a poll released last week by the City & Guilds of London Institute, a leading provider of vocational qualifications in the United Kingdom.
Lawyers came in 27th out of 28 occupations in the City & Guilds' Happiness Index with a score of 7.52 out of 10. The bottom half of the index is strongly populated by professionals, while the happiest workers are beauticians, clergy, florists, and hairdressers. The main reason for all this happiness is the chance to meet new people all the time while on the job, say the pollsters.
Although only 50 lawyers were part of the 1,301 workers surveyed last month, 49 per cent of them cited stress as a reason for their unhappiness. Twenty-eight per cent said they also felt underpaid. Seventeen per cent felt unchallenged and undervalued, and 11 per cent felt they were being undermined at work.
It's interesting to note that more than a quarter of the lawyers (well, in this case only 14 people) felt underpaid. The good news, for lawyers in Canada anyway, is that salaries are expected to rise by five per cent in the next year. That's according to a Robert Half Legal survey released earlier this year. In addition, it seems legal aid in Ontario will be getting a $13-million boost, which many lawyers are probably hoping will translate into either higher tariffs or more coverage for the work they do.
Perhaps the happiest of all will be provincial Crowns, who, according to a memorandum of settlement with the province, will get raises ranging from 45 to 60 per cent (if you include performance and other bonuses) over the next four and half years. Not too shabby, considering teachers only got about a 10-per-cent increase from the province. I imagine the Crowns will ratify the agreement this week; it'd be hard to understand why anyone would decline what some might consider such a generous settlement.
Beyond the niggly salary and stress issues, though, lawyers tied for sixth place (with butchers) on the City and Guilds' work-life balance poll. On that list, bankers brought up the rear with the worst work-life balance. So it's good to see that even if practitioners are stressed out at work, they do seem to make the best of their non-work time so their lives aren't totally miserable.
And at least this time lawyers "chose" to be at the bottom of a list. Usually it's the general public who stick them at the losing end of the most and least respected professions list.
Gail J. Cohen

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