Lawyers find anxiety, isolation more challenging than tech while working remotely

Study finds most legal industry professionals have had at least moderate success quickly transitioning to remote work

Lawyers find anxiety, isolation more challenging than tech while working remotely

A new study has found that professionals in the legal industry are being tested more by anxiety and isolation than problems connected to technology while working remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loeb Leadership’s Law Firm’s Adaptation to Remote Working report found that the biggest challenge faced by legal industry workers is general anxiety, which was indicated by 28% of all respondents. Next was social isolation, which was picked by 20%.

At 18% were keeping teams engaged, communication with colleagues, and keeping a regular schedule. Only then did a technology-related challenge make the list, with 14% of respondents saying a main problem was their workstation.

Distractions and childcare both were picked by 11% of respondents. These were followed by access to tools (9%), Internet (4%), and being sick or taking care of others (2%).

“Not surprisingly, people are struggling with the health and financial uncertainties related to the epidemic. That, combined with fears of social isolation and communication challenges, can lead to potentially harmful mental health consequences, which can impede one’s ability to reduce stress, stay focused and collaborate,” Loeb Leadership said.

The coaching, training, and consulting business said that leaders must be accessible to their direct reports and colleagues and not underestimate the importance of checking in and offering simple empathetic advice and support, as well as asking for feedback.

Most legal industry professionals have had at least moderate success quickly transitioning to remote work. From all respondents, 77% said that have been highly successful, followed by 21% that said they had moderate success. Only 2% said they had low success in quickly transitioning to remote work.

Findings by demographic

There was a difference between the biggest challenges indicated by female respondents and male respondents.

The top three challenges for female respondents were general anxiety (35%), social isolation (25%), and keeping a regular schedule (24%).

Male respondents said that their biggest challenges faced while working remotely were general anxiety (26%), communication with colleagues (23%), and keeping their team engaged (18%).

The most anxious age group were under 35, followed by 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 65 and over, and 55 to 64.

By age groups and excluding general anxiety, the top three challenges faced by those aged under 35 were social isolation and keeping a regular schedule, which both had 27%, as well as communicating with colleagues, with 17%.

For those aged 35 to 44, the biggest challenges were childcare, with 36%, as well as social isolation and keeping a regular schedule, which both had 24%.

Legal professionals aged 45 to 54 reported that their biggest challenge while working remotely was communicating with colleagues, with 23%; keeping a regular schedule, with 21%; and keeping the team engaged, with 14%.

For those aged 55 to 64, the most problematic areas were social isolation, with 26%; communicating with colleagues, with 21%; and keeping the team engaged, with 14%.

For those aged 65 or older, the biggest problems were keeping the team engaged, social isolation, and communicating with colleagues, which all got 22%.

Loeb Leadership got 136 responses to its survey from managing partners, partners, associates, and business services staff and leaders, including from firms that are part of the Am Law 100 and Am Law 200.

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