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Not convinced: 80% of young people think the legal profession involves too many hours

The research, which was undertaken by ComRes, surveyed over 2,000 British adults through an online questionnaire

When we consider some of the traditional roles that are notorious for a poor work/life balance, we tend to think of doctors, nurses and teachers; however, a new report suggests that the legal profession may also be guilty of too-long hours and not enough downtime.

The research, which was undertaken by ComRes, surveyed over 2,000 British adults through an online questionnaire over the course of August and September this year. The participants were requested to respond to a range of subjects pertaining to the legal sector, including the trustworthiness of data sources relating to the industry.

The research highlighted the fact that less than 20% of the 18- to 24-year-olds questioned suggested that the legal sector would offer a positive work/life balance, with just 20% of the next category age group (25- to 30-year-olds) expressing a similar viewpoint. The outcome of the research has led to concerns within the recruitment industry, as demand for lawyers is at an all-time high and these negative impressions of the industry may prevent job seekers qualifying in the industry.

The research was corroborated by Keurig, which manufactures coffee machines and supplies them to a number of legal firms nationally. Keurig’s managing director, Stephen Stagg, highlighted the fact that its products may be a mainstay of most law firms, providing a much-needed caffeine boost to lawyers working impossibly long hours. The firm first considered the issue when it realised that many legal firms were seeking to boost the office environment through luxury items in acknowledgement of the amount of time most legal employees are required to spend at work.

Through employee benefits such as on-site hairdressers, mindfulness areas and state-of-the-art drinks machines, law firms are seeking to enhance the working environment to compensate for the increasing workload demanding higher in-office presence.

Modern views of the legal profession

This negative perception of the industry is in sharp contrast to traditional views of law, with over 50% the over-65s stating that the industry provides a positive work/life balance. This demonstrates an increasing generational disparity in terms of perception, which may have a distinctly negative impact upon legal recruitment.

One of the theories behind the negative view suggests that current dramatization of the legal industry could be setting up inaccurate perceptions by glamorising the profession. US law-themed soap operas and dramas create an unrealistic view of what being a lawyer actually entails; therefore, by the time newly-qualified lawyers enter the profession, they are unprepared for the harsher reality and long hours. The low pay rates for new entrants and relatively mundane day-to-day aspects of the role are a sharp contrast to the Hollywood-esque portrayal of lawyers.

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