Female lawyers were more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression in 2020 than male lawyers and were more likely to engage in hazardous drinking, according to a survey of nearly 3,000 attorneys sponsored by the California Lawyers Association and the D.C. Bar.
The survey also found that more women than men (24% versus 17%) considered leaving the legal profession due to mental health problems, burnout or stress.
According to the survey:
• Two-thirds of women (67%) reported moderate or severe stress compared with less than half of men (49%).
• Nearly one-quarter of women (23%) reported moderate or severe anxiety compared with 15% of men.
• One in five women (20%) reported moderate or severe depression compared with 15% of men.
• One-third of women (34%) reported hazardous drinking compared with 25% of men. Hazardous drinking is measured on a scale that depends on how often one drinks, how many drinks one has when one drinks and how often one has six or more drinks on one occasion.
The survey concluded that women who experienced more conflicts between work and family were four times more likely to leave the legal profession, or consider leaving, due to mental health issues, burnout and stress. Work-family conflict was also a significant factor for men, but less so, the study found.
Most lawyers said their law firms support their mental health and family needs, with some caveats, according to the 2021 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report.
More than half (55%) of the lawyers surveyed agreed with the statement “My workplace is supportive of my mental health needs.” Only 9% disagreed. Nearly half (46%) said their firm provides resources on substance use and addiction or other mental health services and support. One out of six lawyers (16%) said they don’t know if their firms provide such services.
Likewise, nearly two-thirds of lawyers (65%) said they agree with the statement “My job allows me to spend adequate time with my family.” Just 17% disagreed.
Views are mixed on questions about time spent at work, breaks during the day and vacations. A majority (51%) said they “take adequate breaks during the workday,” but a quarter (28%) said they do not. And one-quarter of the lawyers surveyed (27%) said they feel pressure to not take vacation time.
Despite that, most lawyers (63%) said they agree with the statement “I make time for myself.”