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UK-Based Law Society to Study Why Record Number of UK Lawyers are Leaving the Legal Profession

The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales (equivalent to transactional lawyers in the United States), including negotiating with and lobbying the profession's regulators, government and others, and offering training and advice to individual solicitors.

The BBC reports that the Law Society will soon scrutinize the work life balance of UK solicitors to understand why record numbers are leaving the legal profession.

The BBC article shares the fairly depressing story of one solicitor who says she became anorexic and depressed from the long hours and stress of her job, and eventually left her position at a top London law firm. Excerpts:

In the firm in which I worked, the day typically began at 6am. Technically, our working hours were 9.30am to 5.30pm with an hour for lunch, but since we were "invited" to sign a written waiver of our rights under the EU Working Time directive, that was entirely academic. The critical factor was clocking up the requisite number of chargeable hours per day - sometimes 8 or 9 - or such additional time as the work required, including weekends or taking instructions from clients at home late at night. This was due to global time differences or simply since clients expect that kind of service for the fees and you do so in the firm's name and to protect its outstanding reputation . . . lunch was usually eaten on the hoof, if at all, and I was always anxious that the amount of time I was away from my desk would be watched. For two years, I did no cooking at home during the week whatsoever, snatching breakfast from the staff canteen on arrival, frequently having lunch at my desk and if the work dictated it, breaking for supper in the canteen too, before returning to my desk . . . I would often not return home until around 11pm, have a bath and slump into bed, just to repeat the same routine the next day . . . Work was my life. My only social life was being entertained by clients, which at the time felt like a great honour, but was really quite a strain . . .

Read the full story here in the BBC online edition.

Sadly, it doesn't have to be this way. Happiness and practicing law are not mutually exclusive. There are numerous strategies that law firms can pursue to help lawyers feel appreciated and fulfilled at work, and better balance their jobs and personal lives. Contact us at [email protected] for information on programs we offer to help law firms implement attorney retention strategies.

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