Mental Health and Attrition Challenges among Women Attorneys

attorneys mental health stress women attorneys May 24, 2022

A recently published research study that examined gender-specific risk factors for mental health problems and attrition among licensed attorneys produced alarming findings. Acknowledging the existence of a problem is the first step to solving the problem. In this blog post, we will delve into the findings of the study and take the first step to solving the problem of attrition and high rates of mental health issues among women in the legal profession.  

In the study, data was collected from over 2500 licensed attorneys from California and D.C. The prevalence and severity of depression, anxiety, stress, and risky/hazardous drinking were found to be significantly higher among women than among men. Additionally, 25% of women contemplated leaving the profession due to these mental health concerns. In comparison, only 17% of men felt the same.

Why is there a disparity between men and women in the same profession? What is it about women specifically and the legal profession that causes harsher results? The study found that both men and women believe that overcommitment and permissiveness toward alcohol at work were the factors that contributing the most to stress and risky drinking. However, with regard to factors causing people to leave the profession due to mental health condition, women find work-family conflict to be the biggest contributor, while men find overcommitment to be the biggest contributor.

Over the last few COVID years, work life and family life have become a lot more intertwined. Currently, more and more companies prefer this style of working and it is likely that the work-from-home or hybrid model of work will continue for an indefinite amount of time. With that being the case, we need to find ways for women attorneys to overcome and/or cope with the challenges that come with the inevitable mixing of work and family life. How can we do that? In next week’s blog post, we will discuss strategies that can alleviate some of these work-family conflict stressors. Stay tuned!


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