Almost a quarter of lawyers want to leave the profession because of stress and long hours, according to a survey published this week.

The poll of 2,500 lawyers also indicates that assistant solicitors ? those who are not partners ? are even more unhappy, with more than a third wanting to give up their jobs.

The YouGov survey for The Lawyer magazine confirms that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the work-life balance in law, despite record levels of pay.

It coincides with an inquiry by the Law Society of England and Wales into the long hours and lack of career prospects for lawyers with families.

The survey also shows that 20 per cent of managing partners ? those in charge of the the firm ? wish they were in another job. But few lawyers feel able to leave their jobs, chiefly because of the pay cut.

Almost a quarter of lawyers want to leave the profession because of stress and long hours, according to a new survey published this week.

The poll of over 2,500 lawyers also indicates that assistant solicitors - those who are not partners - are even more unhappy, with more than a third wanting to give up their jobs.

The YouGov survey for The Lawyer magazine confirms that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the work-life balance in law, despite record levels of pay.

It coincides with an inquiry by the Law Society of England and Wales into the long hours and lack of career prospects for lawyers with families.

The survey also shows that dissatisfaction continues at higher levels, with one in five managing partners - those in charge of the running of a law firm - wishing they were in another job.

But despite this, few lawyers feel able to leave - chiefly because of the cut in pay this would mean.

One in four cite ?needs of the family? as the reason they will stay with 58 per cent of those wanting to leave saying they had children.

The disillusionment comes at a time when salaries and profits at law firms are at record levels.

New trainees at the top City firms earn a minimum of ?35,000 rising to over ?80,000 after three years. Those who are awarded with partnership can expect to earn ?1 million or more in strong years.

The survey reveals that almost 40 per cent of lawyers, if they could have followed their dreams, would have become either writers or journalists.

But the most popular chosen exit for those who have already gone down the legal route is a non-law, private sector job.

2,631 lawyers were surveyed from June 4 - June 26

Among the factors cited for being unable to leave the profession were:

(some ticked more than one)

  • The possible drop in salary - 70 per cent
  • My family?s needs - 37 per cent
  • I feel I am too old to change career - 27 per cent
  • The possible drop in status - 14 per cent
  • The stress of learning new skills - 10 per cent
  • The cost of re-training for something - 26 per cent
  • I don?t have the right qualifications for what I really want to do - 23 per cent
  • Apathy - 17 per cent
  • The area I want to enter is too competitive - 8 per cent

Those wanting to leave favoured:

  • City (investment bank, private equity etc) - 9 per cent
  • Private sector firm (e.g. limited companies and PLCs) - 24 per cent
  • Nationalised industry or public corporation (e.g. post office, BBC) - 2 per cent
  • Other public sector employer (e.g. NHS, police, armed forces) - 5 per cent
  • Charity/ voluntary sector (e.g. charitable companies, churches) - 6 per cent
  • Education/ teaching - 9 per cent
  • Other - 27 per cent

More than half confessed that they had originally wanted to be something other than a lawyer.

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