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Even Summer Associates are Concerned with Their Mental Health, Proving How Stressful Legal Field Is

Being a lawyer is as glamorous as being a celebrity, one might think. If you think about the money they earn, you’ll definitely imagine that they can easily build a bank. The highly celebrated profession is all the more fulfilling if you can win a case, thereby greatly helping your client. However, despite these enviable moments in the legal field, you can’t deny that it is downright stressful.

Burnout in the Workplace

We know how burnout can largely affect a person’s performance and overall wellbeing – unfortunately, there’s an alarming rise in cases of people suffering from the crisis. According to a study conducted by Gallup where almost 7,500 employees were surveyed, 23 percent said they always feel burned out while another 44 percent reported experiencing this sometimes.

Students and employees experience burnout from time to time

This doesn’t exclude the law industry and summer associates are not blind to see this coming from a mile. As per an American Lawyer survey, mental health is a concern among the students holding the position. Interestingly, this was the first time this aspect was included and it is shocking to know that 42 percent are worried about the state of their mental health once they become attorneys.

Life with the Big Law

The publications surveyed over 3,600 summer associates from 82 “Big Law,” or the world’s largest law firms — speaking of which, they also ranked which they deem as the best firm to work with. Four companies came out on top, namely Clifford Chance, Duane Morris, Kramer Levin, and Stroock.

“Big Law” is the collective term for large law firms

One respondent shared about what is already expected in joining the most well-known firms in the field, saying that it’s not a secret anymore that it can be unsustainable for most people. The person also pointed out that this is because there’s extreme stress on top of the long hours. The Houston-based summer associate further explained that this was something to think about when he/she will start a family.

Other summer associates are concerned if entering the Big Law will aggravate their mental health problems. One, who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety, said that this was definitely a cause of concern because it’s a high-stress environment.

A San Diego respondent, meanwhile, explained that he/she is taking care of him/herself even more because there’s a history of mental health issues in the family. Some noted how there also is substance abuse in the field, while others even revealed the amount people had to drink in the firm they have been in.

Things to Factor In

Meanwhile, the main factor the students ponder on when offered with a job by a law firm is a work-life balance (46 percent). This was followed by a strength practice area (43 percent) and a desire to live in a specific place (37 percent). Moreover, diversity was also factored in the survey – it was one of the resounding issues that surfaced when asked what the summer associates would change about the firms.

There are a lot of factors summer associates think about before joining a firm

Despite this, only 11.4 percent of the respondents see diversity as one of the three factors in jumping on board a law firm. One Washington, D.C. summer associate narrated how she saw one red flag: she had to pay for a tampon from the bathroom dispenser.

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