On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
Almost 75% Of Lawyers Accept Toxic Work Cultures
A recent survey by Culture Shift has made a few eye-opening observations in relation to work cultures described as ‘toxic’. It found that just under three-quarters of legal professionals employed in the industry would not consider agreeing to commence employment with a loosely termed ‘venomous’ working environment.
Our Survey Said…
The results of the survey made a number of alarming discoveries concerning the ideas, attitudes and thoughts of legal professionals seeking to apply for a variety of positions within organisations such as solicitors firms, in-house organisation and other businesses involving legal. It found the following:
- over half of job applicants who submitted answers to the survey claimed they have arrived at the decision to terminate their own employment due to their negative working environment
- in excess of forty percent of legal professionals have been a first hand witness to some form of discriminatory, harassing and bullying conduct from workplace colleagues
- just shy of half of those job applicants would contemplate submitting a negative review on one of the numerous feedback websites to assist later legal professionals applying for jobs in businesses with a negative working environment
- more than sixty percent of prospective consumers of legal would not instruct a firm which subjected its workforce to such negative treatment.
This main headline appears to chime with the headline from just over eight months ago in January 2022 with another Report by the same organisation, Culture Shift which appeared to demonstrate that a negative working environment of this nature is having a detrimental impact upon economic output. In fact, the results of the survey in January 2022 appeared to highlight
Shocking though the recent research is, it does not alas appear to a new phenomenon, a novel concept or a surprise by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there have been many current and former legal professional who have made the difficult decision to speak about their experiences of working in their view ‘toxic law firm environments’. Many reported experiences such as:
- leaders running the departments appear to be solely focussed on exceeding billing targets and amounts of money produced by colleagues
- employers do not appear to be concerned with operational improvement within the respective firm, how the machinery of the firm will change for the better or how staff are managed to improve matters
- a lack of personnel in place to fulfil management positions, acting as line managers or providing any feedback whatsoever on colleague performance
- senior members of staff appear to wield immense power however the same higher staff appear to shirk this key responsibility.
- Deficient leadership skills amongst the upper echelons of the respective organisations, not holding themselves accountable for the culture they have played a role in creating or seemingly negating their professional duties when it comes to their supervising members of the workforce.
These five tenets appear to have had a correlative and causative impact upon the creation of a toxic working culture at a minority of law firms
What Happens Next?
Providers of legal service need to be doing all they can to mitigate the risk of conduct such as this having a damaging, negative and detrimental effect upon the whole organisation. Gemma McCall from Culture Shift commented that to her mind the single most viable solution to eliminate the problem is to ensure that putting a positive working environment at the head of the list of priorities. Those in influential positions within providers of legal services should be doing all they can to secure, tighten up and safeguard their working environments.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
 Lennox, Jamie – 73% of lawyers avoid jobs with ‘toxic’ work culture – Todays Conveyancer – 28 June 2022 - 73% of lawyers avoid jobs with “toxic” work culture | Today's Conveyancer (todaysconveyancer.co.uk)
 Hussain, Aishah – ‘Toxic’ work culture deters three quarters of lawyers from accepting job offers – 8 June 2022 – Legal Cheek - 'Toxic' work culture deters three-quarters of lawyers from accepting job offers - Legal Cheek
 Cottrell, Sarah – Authority Without Responsibility: The Toxic Environment of Biglaw Firms [TFLP 11] The Toxic Work Environment Of Biglaw Firms (formerlawyer.com)
 Rubino, Kathryn – Biglaw Partner on the Red Flags of Toxic Workplaces – AbovetheLaw - Biglaw Partner On The Red Flags Of Toxic Workplaces - Above the LawAbove the Law 10 June 2022
 Pierce, Tonya – 8 Ways to Know if Your Law Firm Has a Culture Problem – Agile Law - Blog : 8 Ways to Know if Your Law Firm has a Culture Problem - AgileLaw