The State of Wellbeing in Law 2023

With law firms facing rising labor costs and competition for top talent, along with an increased risk of occupational pressures such as stress and burnout, Unmind launched a first-of-its-kind study in the legal sector. 

Encompassing a sample of 3,814 employees from six large US law firms – a sample of a population known to have higher rates of mental health difficulties than the general working population – we investigated the interplay of workplace factors that drive employee mental health and the associated financial implications.

Download the report to find out:

  • How wellbeing in the legal sector compares to population averages
  • The key workplace drivers of wellbeing in the legal sector
  • Recommendations for the legal sector to improve mental health and performance, and focus wellbeing investment for greater returns.
Presenteeism in focus

Across industries, presenteeism from physical or mental health difficulties can cost employers up to 4x more than absenteeism, rising to 5-10x greater for employees experiencing depression.

When people work while unwell, multiple factors drive loss for organisations including slowing down their recovery, increasing the risk of burnout and being less likely to access the support they need compared to sickness absence.

For our teams, presenteeism accounted for 65% of costs related to performance due to mental health compared to 11% for absence.  

Based on our data and industry research, organisations can actively reduce presenteeism through cultural change. Both managing hazards at work and building supportive work cultures can reduce the time employees spend at work while unwell and its negative impact on performance.17

Our key wellbeing performance terms explained

Absenteeism: Employees’ self-reported absence from work related to mental health difficulties.6

Attrition: Employees’ self-rated intention of leaving their current role in the next six months due to poor mental health.7

Burnout: As defined by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11),8 “A syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Net positive impact: Proportion of employees who report that their work has a positive impact on their mental health.

Mental health: As defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO),9 “A state of wellbeing in which the individual realises [their] own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to [their] community.”

Presenteeism: Percentage of time at work negatively affected by poor wellbeing.10

Whole-organisation: Unmind’s holistic approach looks at the interplay between the individual, their work environment and its impact on mental health. Environmental factors include culture, relationships and physical environments.

The therapeutic benefits of safe storytelling
  • Employees can feel empowered by reclaiming their narrative and sharing their story.
  • Teams can build a sense of community, form connections, and reduce isolation.
  • Organisations can nurture greater mental health maturity and challenge stigma.
What we found

We found common themes across workshops to address challenges and manage stress in the business.

  • Specific areas of development. Ways to alleviate stress for teams include upskilling communication, supporting continuous learning and managing workload more effectively.
  • Better role and career path clarity and alignment with organisational goals to reduce stress and improve performance.
  • Greater need for direction. A desire for greater support and mentorship balanced with the need for autonomy