3 in 10 in-house counsel have ‘high’ burnout during COVID-19

By Jerome Doraisamy|16 June 2020
Sydney CBD

Whilst a majority of corporate lawyers are feeling positive about their workload during the pandemic, 30 per cent have troubling levels of burnout.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) recently polled 460 of its members to evaluate the state of the in-house community’s wellness and work habits in the three months since the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic.

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The poll found that almost nine in 10 (88.3 per cent) of in-house lawyers are currently working from home, while nearly 10 per cent have suffered pay cuts, furloughs, or dismissal due to budget cuts. Of those working from home, over half (53.4 per cent) have found that they are working longer hours than before, and – worryingly – between 40 and 50 per cent of respondents reported feeling tired or low energy, experiencing anxiety, and trouble sleeping or concentrating as a result of the pandemic.

Perhaps of greatest concern is that just over three in 10 (30.3 per cent) of in-house counsel currently rate their level of burnout as being high or ‘very high.

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That being said, over four in five (83.3 per cent) of respondents said that their overall emotional state was somewhat good, very good or extremely good.

Moreover, 84.2 per cent said they feel positive about their workplace and business or organisation, with over half of respondents having attended a virtual drinks event or having completed online fitness classes, religious services, dinner parties, and meditation sessions as ways to relax and connect with colleagues.

Responding to the findings, ACC Australia Asia-Pacific vice-president and general manager Tanya Khan said: “As businesses around the world struggled to adjust to the new challenges of COVID-19, corporate legal departments were at the forefront of those transitions.”

“Members repeatedly shared with us how the stress of these responsibilities [was] impacting their wellbeing and overall mental health. The results from this flash poll provide some insights that COVID-19 is taking an emotional toll on the in-house community, but that they are also an incredibly optimistic and resilient group of professionals,” she proclaimed.

3 in 10 in-house counsel have ‘high’ burnout during COVID-19
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