Not a pretty picture

THE FINDINGS of The Lawyer's survey on the state of the profession makes bleak reading, especially at a time when business is on the up for most law firms.

The picture of a disillusioned profession, nearly half of whom regret choosing the law as a profession, is not a pretty one.

The high degree of stress felt by lawyers, with nine out of 10 complaining of it, is a real cause for concern. Partners in particular complained of being "highly stressed".

The long hours and weekends worked have obviously taken their toll on morale, not to mention the worsening image of lawyers and the fact that many feel they have lost the public's respect.

Most worrying for law firms, however, is the perception which their lawyers have of their firms.

Over half consider the management in their organisations to be autocratic. Nearly half believed their departments were badly organ ised, whilst two out of five felt their bosses were ineffective.

There's evidence, too, that firms don't fully use their employees' potential. One in three lawyers do not take part in their firm's marketing or development. More surprisingly, one in 12 is actively prevented by their firm from participating in this kind of activity.

These findings coincide with the publication of our student issue which is circulated to all aspiring lawyers. We hope that the findings do not serve to disillusion but to prepare students for the reality of practice.

There are signs that some firms have taken these issues on board and are dealing with them. However, the amount of disillusionment amongst employees suggests there is a long way to go and many fundamental problems to be addressed.

It is time for firms to get back to basics and work out just why their lawyers are so unhappy.