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Work Life Balance in the legal field

The Chambers UK team discusses the topic of work life balance in the legal field and how lawyers are reassessing their relationship with work.

Published on 8 November 2022
Written by Steven Preston
Steven Preston

Long hours considered the norm

We’ve heard a lot recently about people in all walks of life reassessing their relationship with work. 

That’s especially true in law where long hours remain the norm. Our student team spoke with over a thousand current trainees and found that at Magic Circle and US law firms, new lawyers can expect to work close to 50 hours a week on average which is about 14 hours more than the UK average, according to the ONS. 

They also found that trainees at those law firms were less likely to say they intended to try and make partner when compared with their peers at regional law firms. 

Search of a less stressful existence

This suggests that many younger lawyers may not see the lifestyle that comes with climbing the ranks at an international law firm as being sustainable in the long term. 

It’s not just junior lawyers, though. Our researchers have heard of partners and senior associates leaving successful careers at large law firms in search of a less stressful existence. 

Some have moved in house, whilst others have left to travel the world. 

Platform law firms

Some have stayed in private practice but have chosen to eschew traditional firms in favour of the so-called platform law firms. 

This year, Keystone Law has seen 9 ranked partners join the organisation which is the fourth highest of any UK law firm. Similarly, gunnercook has benefited from 6 ranked new joiners which also puts them in the top 20. 

We’ll be watching closely over the next few years to see if the number of ranked partners joining these law firms continues to grow and if it does, what sort of challenge these law firms start to pose to those with a more traditional model. 


Chambers UK

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