Stress survey: UK firms more supportive of work-life balance than US rivals

US firms in London are far less encouraging of work-life balance than their UK peers, according to respondents of Lawyer 2B’s survey of stress in law survey.

The survey found that some 70 per cent of lawyers working at US firms in London thought their firm’s senior management “didn’t really” encourage employees to maintain a work-life balance, compared with 29 per cent of magic circle lawyers and 46 per cent of those at other large London firms who felt the same way.

Management at boutique London firms were the most likely to be seen as genuinely supporting a good work-life balance.

However, the survey also reveals that despite this, magic circle lawyers at every level generally worked longer hours than their US firm counterparts.

One quarter of US firm trainees reported typically working more than 55 hours a week, compared with 57 per cent of those at magic circle firms. At qualified lawyer level, 75 per cent of magic circle lawyers were averaging more than 55 hours per week compared to 68 per cent of US firms’ lawyers.

Stress - encouraging work life balance (by firm type)

Magic circle lawyers rated themselves more stressed than their US firm counterparts in virtually every category in the survey. The only area that caused lawyers at US firms more stress was that of red tape and bureaucracy.

 What are your chief causes of work-related stress? Magic circle US firms in London
Too much work, too little time 87% of respondents 67% of respondents
Pressure to meet billing targets 29% 24%
Overly demanding clients 45% 39%
Difficult/unpleasant superiors 47% 36%
Difficult/unpleasant peers 13% 9%
Competition to get ahead at the firm 24% 18%
Work affecting personal life 66% 58%
Red tape/bureaucracy 10% 12%

The survey was conducted by Lawyer 2B over the course of April and gathered 446 responses.