Concerns about the well-being of lawyers are rising against the backdrop of a transforming legal profession, one which many observe to be operating more like a business in recent decades. However, aspects of this change, such as lawyers perceiving that their employers value financial performance and productivity above all else, could be associated with unhealthy work practices detrimental to lawyer well-being. The objective of the present study was to determine whether the perceived values of employers were differentially associated with lawyer well-being, stress, and work overcommitment. To this end, 1959 participants from a random sample of attorneys completed a survey designed to assess well-being. Participants were separated into one of three groups based on what they perceived their employer to value most about them: (1) Professionalism/Individual (professionalism and skills), (2) Financial Worth/Availability (revenue generation and availability), and (3) No Value/No Feedback (feeling unvalued or lacking feedback) and compared on measures of mental and physical health (SF-12), stress (Perceived Stress Scale), and work over commitment (Effort–Reward Imbalance Questionnaire). MANOVA results indicated that mental health, stress, and work overcommitment significantly differed between groups in the following rank order: Professionalism/Individual > Financial Worth/Availability > No Value/No Feedback. Overall, our findings paint a compelling picture of a health hierarchy within legal work environments, one that appears to be linked to employer values.
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