Is Stress and Burnout Among Kiwi Lawyers Reducing – New Survey Will Tell

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Is Stress and Burnout Among Kiwi Lawyers Reducing - New Survey Will Tell 3

Stress management . . bullying & harassment . . meaningful legal work all considered in survey

The College of Law has commenced its ongoing ‘wellness study’ into how meaningful New Zealand lawyers find their work and how best to support stressful situations facing lawyers, after last year’s results showed a downward trend in the way stress and burnout was being handled by law firms.

However, there remains concerns over mental health effects upon, in particular, younger lawyers who have suffered from high stress situations with the concerning indicators in the previous survey that over half of young lawyers who suffered from stress or burnout suffered had turned to alcohol and one-in-five had turned to drugs.

Most lawyers thought firms could do more to make the situation better (62 per cent)

Meaningful Legal Work

Last year’s survey found a ‘strong’ growth in the meaningfulness quotient of law work for those surveyed, compared to the 2018 survey (

The survey focuses also on how lawyers manage stress, last year’s survey showing that 51 per cent of lawyers used alcohol, drugs or resignation as a means of dealing with high stress with three in five lawyers believing their workplaces could do more to lessen the stress load.

The most popular mechanism to remove stress was the provision of mental health days at work, the next being to offer better incentives for overtime and to increase the training levels for staff around effective management.

The survey also looked at burnout rates, last year’s survey showing as below:

Is Stress and Burnout Among Kiwi Lawyers Reducing - New Survey Will Tell 4

Rethinking Law Firm Management

One of the key findings from last year’s survey was the need for law firms to ‘rethink’ their management structures and training to provide better support for law firms.

The previous survey had found that law firms were slow to make necessary changes to ensure they provided better support for staff:

Is Stress and Burnout Among Kiwi Lawyers Reducing - New Survey Will Tell 5

Bullying & Harassment

Bullying and related issues remain a major concern among lawyers with over 40 per cent of lawyers having known someone who had suffered from such actions in the 12 months prior to the last law firm survey being taken.

One in 10 lawyers knew someone who had been sexually harassed in the previous 12 months, the report said.

The prevalence among females reporting such behaviour was significantly higher among females (48 per cent) compared to males (35 per cent).

Similarly, younger lawyers were more likely to encounter such activity.

The survey looks at other matters such as changing work environments and other matters, the alcohol use in work and other matters.

Access to the study is here.

Results are to be released in January 2021.

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