The Holy Grail: Work-Life Balance in the Legal Profession
(2015) 38(1) University of New South Wales Law Review 288
36 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2015
Australian legal practitioners experience high rates of depression, psychological distress, and substance abuse. There are strong business and social imperatives driving improvements to work life balance. This article reports findings from an empirical study investigating the levels of work life balance, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and intentions to turnover within the legal profession in Western Australia. The results indicate that work-life constructs are associated with the outcomes of job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and turnover intentions. An overwhelming majority of legal practitioners reported that they experience job satisfaction, while a significant proportion reported that they do not experience work-life balance or life satisfaction. Interestingly, only a small minority indicated any intention to leave their current organisation within the next five years. The study illustrates the paradox of the legal profession: lawyers find great satisfaction from work, despite concerns about work-life balance and life satisfaction. Further, the empirical findings demonstrate that legal practitioners working more than 40 hours per week experience lower work life balance and life satisfaction. Work-life balance is a social construct that is not merely a matter of individual choice. Improvements to work-life balance require wider systemic and cultural change within the legal profession.
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