Billing is killing

Literally. overworked lawyerFrom Roll on Friday 03/10/14:

A report by the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has revealed the key causes of stress and mental illness prevalent amongst lawyers are their working conditions, in particular, intolerable billing targets or working 80-hour-weeks.

Oh, you do surprise me.

The work, work, work culture that seems to have crept in to so many areas of legal practice today is stupidly short-sighted and symptomatic of so much that’s wrong with modern life and society as a whole. Work is important, clients’ needs are important, but none of it is worth making yourself ill over. But, when you’re trapped working in a firm which doesn’t take that view, life isn’t that simple.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that I’m in a firm which recognises there’s more to life that work. But by taking a more reasonable and a pragmatic approach, I think the firm gets more out of us. Let’s face it: fee earners working 80 hour weeks aren’t exactly going to be on sparkling form.  Believe it or not, lawyers are human – not billing machines.

The head of the LIV, Geoff Bowyer, said that many cases go untreated because lawyers fear stress or trauma will be interpreted as a sign of weakness which would impact on their career progression. He told Lawyers Weekly, “we need to ensure that by proper education and awareness it’s OK to put a call out there for help as opposed to just trying to soldier on”.

The findings coincide with an earlier report by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute in 2009 which revealed that more than 50% of lawyers have depression during their working-life.

The other 50% didn’t want to admit to it then.


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