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September 28, 2022

ABA survey: Most lawyers want options for remote work, court and conferences

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2022 – A new national survey sponsored by the American Bar Association shows most lawyers want the option to work from home, including the opportunity to attend many court hearings, meetings, conferences and legal training sessions remotely. The survey focuses on hybrid and remote work; mobility of lawyers; stress and burnout; diversity, equity and inclusion; use of technology; and the types of bar association resources lawyers want.

Findings from the survey “Where Does the Legal Profession Go from Here?” also show remote options are especially important to young lawyers, 44% of whom said they would leave their jobs for a greater ability to work remotely. Also, a majority of lawyers said they preferred that bench trials, pretrial hearings, depositions and court-ordered mediations take place remotely.

“This report is a valuable follow-up to last year’s Practice Forward survey, which offered guidance about the best path forward for the legal profession after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross. “With the new survey findings, we are seeing how lawyers want to work — with flexibility playing a key role for many as they transition back into the workplace.”

The survey, commissioned by the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, was conducted on behalf of the ABA May 30 to June 17 by The Red Bee Group as a follow-up to last year’s first Practice Forward survey. Responses this year came from 1,994 ABA members who work in jobs that require law degrees. Most lawyers who responded (75%) work in private practice.

Among the results:

  • Most lawyers (59%) work more than 40 hours a week. More than 1 in 5 (22%) work more than 50 hours a week.
  • The vast majority (87%) said their workplace allows lawyers to work remotely. About 30% of lawyers work from home almost all the time. Another 30% work in the office nearly 100% of the time.
  • Women lawyers, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers and disabled lawyers reported feeling more stressed and perceived as less competent at work than their colleagues; feeling unable to be their authentic selves at work; and receiving demeaning or insulting comments at work.
  • Most lawyers reported that working remotely or on a hybrid basis has not adversely impacted the quality of their work, productivity or billable hours. This is particularly true for women lawyers, 56% of whom said that remote or hybrid working increased their ability to balance work and family obligations.
  • A majority of respondents said that courts should allow remote court-ordered mediations (82%), depositions (88%), pretrial hearings (93%) and even bench trials (64%).

In light of the survey findings, the report also offers a set of recommended best practices for lawyers and legal employers in the workplace as well as the preferred resources lawyers would like to have from bar associations to help them navigate “the new normal.”  

For more results and details, read the report online here.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.