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Law firms’ people aged 45+ are unhappier than millenials, research found

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Those working at law firms who are aged 45 and over are unhappier in their jobs and with their work-life balance than their younger counterparts are, new research has revealed, while just 2% expect to remain at their current firm for more than the next decade.

The report, commissioned by Simmons & Simmons, comes as firms fight to retain talent at all levels, with concerns about burnout and well-being top of management agendas.

66% of respondents aged 45-54 said they are happy at work, while the same percentage reported being happy with their work life balance.

Those figures rose for the millenial generation—employees aged between 25 and 34— with 81% saying they are happy at work. 83% of that age group said they are happy with their work life balance.

The happiness in law survey, which was published on Wednesday, charted the responses of 1600 lawyers and other law firm employees from firms across the world, with 20% of responses coming from firms with revenues of more than £500 million.

The majority of respondents were lawyers at various levels of seniority, from trainee to partner. 20% of respondents work in business services areas of law firms. The survey showed that the hiring market will likely continue at a heady pace, with just 2% of overall respondents expect to remain at their firm for more than the next 10 years. 44% expect to leave their current firm within 5 years, with the figure rising in relation to millennial respondents to 49%. 

Respondent’s locations also played a role in determining happiness at work. 57% of French respondents stated they were happy at work, whereas 88% of those enjoying the sunny lifestyle in Dubai said they were happy at work.

The survey, conducted by consultants Censuswide on behalf of Simmons, also tracked the influence of salary on the happiness of respondents.  

When asked whether money was the most important factor of happiness at work, 78% of repondents based at firms with turnover of £1 billion+ agreed, contrasting sharply with those at a firm with far smaller annual turnovers of less than £100,000, where less than 50% claimed it was important to their happiness. 

Overall, 77% of survey respondents said it was more important for them to work within a supportive and inclusive firm than at one that pays very high salaries. This figure dipped slightly in regards to those respondents based at U.S. firms, where 68% responded that culture is more important than pay.

Commenting on the findings, Simmons senior partner Julian Taylor added: “The last two years have changed the way people think about their careers and their lives. The workplaces of the future will recognise this and place importance on encouraging their people to do more than simply work to live.”

The survey echoes initiatives across the industry which have striven to make the corporate law world a better place to work.  Unprecedented workloads and inflated salaries  have all been cited as a contributing factor to worsening mental health, specifically among younger professionals. Earlier in June, Clifford Chance  hired its first wellbeing head to improve employee experience at the firm and to support the firm’s people at all stages of their career. 

 


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