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Can't get no (job) satisfaction

Can't get no (job) satisfaction

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High stress, long hours, no news there. But as the interminable burden of lawyering continues to take its toll on individuals, isn't it time the profession changes the way it works? Kate Gibbs writes

High stress, longhours, no news there. But as the interminable burden of lawyering continues totake its toll on individuals, isn't it time the profession changes the way itworks? Kate Gibbs writes

THE daily grind is even worse for lawyers, who have ranked low in a new jobs survey because of the job's high stress levels and commonly negative work environment.

The problem of stress forces lawyering below jobs in social work, librarians and receptionists, in a newly released ranking of the top 200 jobs for 2010. 

Despite being highly paid, well respected and having a decent hiring outlook for the next year, being a lawyer ranks at number 80 in the CareerCast survey, which crystal-balls the top jobs for 2010 based on work environment, physical demands, stress, income and hiring outlook for the next year. 

The survey places more high-paying, well-respected jobs between 61 and 80 on the rankings than it does between 41 and 60 of the top jobs. The message? A job may pay well, but income doesn't make a happy worker. 

While attorneys and federal judges boast average median salaries ranging from about US$89,000 to $152,000 (AUD$102,000 to $175,000), both careers have at least one major flaw that prevents it from finishing higher in the rankings. 

A judge, for example, which ranked 63 in the survey, is the highest paying position in the group. But it suffers (as do judges), from a poor hiring outlook. 

And attorneys, by comparison, are hurt by their high stress levels and a difficult work environment, even though their physical demands are low and their incomes are high. 

But the legal world isn't completely doomed when it comes to job satisfaction and prospects. Paralegal assistants, which assist attorneys in preparing legal documents, collection of depositions and affidavits, and generally investigate and analyse legal issues, rank at 7 on the top jobs. 

According to the survey, paralegals' stress levels are at 23, compared to lawyers' 64 and judges' 46, even though the average income is about US$46,000 (AUD$52,000).

This is getting ridiculous. When receptionists have more job satisfaction than lawyers, it's time to do something about the profession and how it works.

It's time to rid the inflicted profession of this damned spot of stress. In law firms at least, the stress levels are not high because it's challenging work, or because the clients are so demanding, or because there is no parking in the city - despite all these things being true. The stress levels are high because of a lack of balance. Because of lawyers' (especially partners') expectations on each other. And because of greed. 

With the rare exception of listed law firms, there are no shareholder expectations on how much money is made. Too often, high incomes are taking their toll on individuals' happiness in the workplace. If the legal profession wants to preserve itself, and the clever people that do the jobs within, it has to transform the way that is done. 

You'll know better than those outside the profession (including myself) on how to actually do this. These pages are just a chance for commentators to give a little nudge and put the word out there - for you to act on or roll your eyes at, whatever you find easier. 

But rather than seeing the GFC as a burden and an impetus for more stress, the profession could take it as an opportunity to force a change.

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