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Why Are Lawyers So Unhappy? Dissecting The Truth Behind This Notion

Are lawyers really unhappy? Well, a lot of industry studies have confirmed that lawyers, especially junior ones, are miserable. The number of lawyers that are experiencing severe anxiety, stress, depression, and drug abuse problems is increasing.

The United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive has even placed legal professionals third in UK’s top four most stressful careers in 2017. What is it that makes lawyers so unhappy, then? Keep on reading to find out!


Lawyers usually have—or develop during their training and job experience—a “pessimistic explanatory” style. They typically see events as persistent and ubiquitous. On the other hand, optimists see problems as local, passing, and fleeting.

Pessimists don’t really excel when it comes to entrepreneurship, sports, and politics. However, they do fairly well in law. But why? Lawyers are compensated to regulate the risk of others. Perceiving predicaments as persistent and ubiquitous instills prudence. It benefits lawyers by spotting all potential risks and pitfalls that may happen to their clients. In turn, this allows lawyers to defend their clients in whatever situation.


Lawyers, especially younger ones, need to meet high-pressure and erratic hours and demands. 100+ hours and 7-day work for months on end aren’t unusual in transactional proceedings at big law firms. Low decision latitude concerning what works, how to do it, or with which associate to work with, is also normal.

Daily low decision latitude when it comes to career direction and growth is confining towards job satisfaction. On top of that, sporadic connection with superiors and practically with clients (besides emails and phone calls) complicates the issue. It leaves junior lawyers detached from the performance and chances to learn from other people. Low decision latitude usually bleeds into regular life. For example, it makes an individual undervalue the options accessible to them.


Since managing risks is how lawyers are compensated, doing things at a bare minimum is unacceptable. Even the most trivial mistake can put an end to a long and glorious career when the same blunder in other professions (besides maybe medicine) wouldn’t highlight as an endnote. As a result, lawyers are trained and praised for their attention to detail.

Perfectionism in daily life can be harmful. “Maximizing mindset” is what psychologists call it—specifically, someone pursuing the ideal outcome in any (or every) situation. But since this isn’t always possible, it can often end in perpetual disappointment and dissatisfaction.

As with pessimism and low decision latitude, perfectionism a trait that can progress from practice into private life quickly, but when it does, it can be restricting, as it fuels unhappiness.

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