Lawyering is not all it’s cracked up to be

by NZ Lawyer30 Mar 2015
A recent survey has found that an astonishing number of lawyers wish they weren’t.

The UK report by Money Magpie, found that only a third of the 800 lawyers surveyed said that the job lived up to their expectations, and over half wished they had chosen a different career path.

Lisa Gazis, managing director of legal recruiter Mahlab, said that with high pressures in the legal industry due to the shrinking number of jobs and increasing workloads, lawyers can feel as though they are not making a genuine contribution in their work, despite firms doing what they can to harness a strong team-like attitude.  She said expectation can be a very important factor in whether or not somebody likes their job.

“I think that the law has moved in some regards to actually feeling like you are working in a profession and that you are part of a team where you can genuinely contribute and grow with because of all these demands,” she said.

“Over the years, a lot of people have moved into law having preconceived ideas of what the role entails and what they don’t always understand is the pressures and demands that are placed on lawyers particularly hours of work and the career prospects in some areas that have narrowed.”

A high salary was what attracted 97 per cent of the respondents to the profession.

Gazis, who was not surprised by this result, said that while many people are attracted to the idea of a prestigious job with a good salary, there is no guarantee once you hit the workforce.

“It’s not just the technical skills that you need to bring; it’s the stamina to be able to continue to work those hours,” she said.

While Gazis noted working hard and long hours affects many industries and we are working harder as a society, she said that lawyers who don’t achieve milestones as quickly as they thought they would may not see the benefit in sustaining the tough pressures in rising through the legal ranks.

 “What you need to do to keep on top of things weather it’s being technologically savvy, being on top legal changes, being able to market yourself…  There’s no guarantee you’ll make partner in a major firm or that your salary is going to increase in huge increments, but the amount of yourself that you need to give to the role is quite a bit.”


  • by Jerry 30/03/2015 12:54:18 p.m.

    The expectation of lawyers working ridiculously long hours are a significant impediment to lawyers feeling satisfied in their work. Personally, I love my job. The people are great. I enjoy the challenges that each day brings. What I will never comprehend is the ridiculous hours that are expected of me. I work hard, and I want to be a well respected lawyer. However, I want to have a life too. My family, my friends, and my other interests are very important to me and keep me well-rounded and healthy (mentally and physically). In my view, many lawyers would be happy in their jobs if the hours were not so unreasonable. At the very least, I would suggest that this is a significant reason for many lawyers being dissatisfied with their jobs. Food for thought.