13 Jul 2020

Nearly quarter of lawyers fear impact of digitalisation and AI on legal profession, survey finds

The MOSAIC Mood Index also shows the vast majority of lawyers are taking work-related stress home with them

Almost half of legal professionals don’t feel positive about the future of the industry, according to a survey from the MOSAIC Collective.

The MOSAIC Mood Index, which surveyed nearly 1,500 lawyers across the world, showed that 49% of lawyers are concerned about the future of the profession, with almost a quarter of respondents fearful about the impact of digitalisation, technology and artificial intelligence. 

The survey, which is supported by the Legal 500 directory, revealed that the stresses of the job were also taking a toll on lawyers’ wellbeing, with 94% saying the mood their job puts them in affects their personal life, with more than half saying they find it hard to talk about how they are feeling. A majority of lawyers said that being more active and engaged in conversations about their future prospects could help improve their mood.

Claire Debney and Emma Sharpe, co-founders of lawyer mentoring and training consultancy MOSAIC, said: “This is a unique period of time, with multiple generations of workers in the workplace, each generation bringing different attitudes about work and wellbeing. Add to this the backdrop of living and working through a global pandemic, the first in living memory for any of us, and we’re seeing a rapid and seismic shift in the way we work, alongside some real challenges to wellbeing.”

While roughly four out of every five respondents said they are content in their jobs, 39% said they have no career plan in place and only around one in 10 said they feel like their manager looks after their interests. 

Lawyers said their happiness levels are mainly influenced by salary, their job title and recognition, the quality and meaningfulness of work, and the amount of flexibility and work-life balance their job offers. Respondents said loneliness and high levels of work-related stress are the main downsides. Some 70% said a lack of time prevents them from making positive changes to improve their happiness.

Debney and Sharpe added: “We believe what [respondents] told us in the MOSAIC Mood Index remains relevant and is actually critical to understand, so that the learnings are not lost in a ‘return to normal’ as we continue to live with the fallout and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It shows that the status quo we’ve been living with isn’t working.”

The survey’s 1477 respondents included lawyers working in law firms and in-house legal teams; the largest geographic segments were the UK (31%), Western Europe (23%) and Central and South America (18%). 

In May, a survey of law firm associates in the US, the UK and Asia conducted by Major Lindsey & Africa found just over a fifth of respondents worried about potential cost cutting measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic with 10% reporting mental health as a primary concern.