While compensation is very important, millennial and Gen Z lawyers agree that mental health and work-life balance remain key priorities in any “new normal” that may emerge in the legal industry, according to a pair of recent surveys.
Over half of associates surveyed said they are open to new opportunities, with most of them saying this is because they’re dissatisfied with their firm’s work-life balance, emphasizing the need for mental health support at work.
When asked about trade-offs, nearly 30% of associates in ATL/MLA’s survey would trade time off for money, and a quarter said they’d accept less money for a flexible work schedule.
The Deloitte survey found that 41% of millennials and 46% of Gen Zers feel stressed all or most of the time, and over 30% have taken time off work to address pandemic-related stress and anxiety. However, nearly half of this group felt unsafe being honest about the reason for their absence, and told their employer a different reason. Approximately 40% are disappointed with how their employers supported their mental health during the pandemic.
While the ABA has created a pledge for law firms to take, promising to address key areas around mental health and addiction, young workers say that more firms need to take concrete steps like reducing billable hours or offering free counseling support for lawyers in crisis.
Half of respondents to ATL/MLA’s survey reported they eventually want to make partner one day, half agreed that partnership isn’t as attractive an option as it was a generation ago. The percentage of associates dreaming of hanging their own shingle has dropped from 12% in 2019 to 4.5% this year.
Survey results like these demonstrate that now is the time for the legal industry to acknowledge young associates are not only resources but people that need to be valued both financially and as people in order to make the pressures of a law career worth it.