'Rite of passage' | The industries still overworking their people to the point of burnout

The industries still overworking their people to the point of burnout

Deep Dive

When *Elliot joined the legal industry in his chosen field 10 years ago, he knew hard work and long hours were expected of junior lawyers. But what he didn’t expect was the lack of modern working conditions and humane treatment.

“It’s a rite of passage for new legal professionals to be thrown in at the deep end,” he explains. "I knew there would be a great deal of work, including long hours and being given all the 'grunt work'.

“What I didn’t expect was that the whole culture would be built around exploiting younger law practitioners to the point of literal physical and mental exhaustion,” Elliot says. 

Far from being uncommon, this mentality in the legal profession still seems rife, despite the Great Resignation and the reset in priorities that many people underwent during the pandemic. The Law Society of England and Wales found in its 2018 Resilience and Wellness survey that 93% of the younger professionals polled had suffered serious stress at work.

The research has demonstrated the impact on attracting, retaining and motivating the best possible people

A YouGov poll of 100 working solicitors in the wider UK also saw 92% report having experienced burnout, with 27% saying they feel burntout on a daily basis. The same study showed that two-thirds of lawyers “feel that their job has had a negative impact on both their mental and physical health.”

And the legal sector isn’t alone. Healthcare and banking are also high-ranking in the ‘work them to the bone’ mentality. According to a study by the Society of Occupational medicine, doctors experience a much higher rate of burnout and work-related “emotional fatigue” and a ironically unhealthy adherence to a culture of presentism – particularly working while physically ill. And instead of things improving after the Great Reset, the same study reports that junior doctors are working longer hours for less pay – and as a result, experience work/life balance and mental health crises at alarmingly early stages in their career.

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