Top 5 Reasons Lawyers Need Financial Wellness in the Workplace

Posted by LearnLux

As an HR or benefits professional at a top law firm, you’re no stranger to the impact that stress has on your team. Many employers have made strides towards tackling the taboo of workplace wellness, knowing that when your team operates at their highest potential, it’s good for them, good for the client, and good for the firm. 

Recently, cutting-edge firms have been taking it one step further and implementing programs that focus on the #1 cause of stress in the modern workplace; Financial stress.

While the legal profession is a highly compensated field, there are times that it contributes, if not causes, financial stress. Here are the top 5 reasons that lawyers need financial wellbeing benefits in the workplace.

Lawyers are saddled with student debt

It’s no secret that becoming a lawyer is an expensive process. According to U.S. News and World Report, many law school students graduate with upwards of $150,000 in student loan debt. At some law schools, 90% of graduates take on debt.

This means that before their first paycheck is cut, most grads are in debt up to their eyeballs. This leads to high monthly loan payments, and that financial stress can result in many sleepless nights for your employees.

As outstanding student loans soar past the $1.5 trillion mark (nearly 3x what it was just 10 years ago) many firms are implementing financial wellness programs to educate and support their teams as they work hard to pay down their debt.


Lawyers are behind on retirement readiness

The fundamental shift from defined benefit pensions to 401(k)s in the U.S. is putting the retirement risk on the shoulders of the lawyers themselves, which, you guessed it, is causing them a lot of stress.

Back in the day, hard workers had peace of mind that they’d be taken care of in retirement. Today, your team has 2 jobs -- making money, then learning how to properly manage it for the future.

HR professionals are turning to financial wellness programs to help educate their employees about contribution limits, employee matches and other info to save time and offer important info on-demand.


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Many lawyers lack a savings safety net

Lawyers might command high starting salaries, but this does not mean that money is making it to their savings.

Because lawyers start their careers after years of schooling, their first paychecks may coincide with big life events like starting a family or buying a house. These expenses, amplified by the fact that most lawyers practice in high cost of living locations, make it very difficult to earmark money for savings.

In fact, Forbes reports that 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, and many lawyers fall into this demographic.


Over-entertainment leads to overspending 

Like many other high-stress fields, lawyers are no stranger to the “work hard, play hard” mentality.

Because of their long, sometimes unpredictable hours, when it’s time to relax and unwind they are very prone to overconsuming (and in turn, overspending) in categories like entertainment, alcohol and food.

The financial and physical costs here are high, which makes it hard for these employees to perform their best during their workday. Innovative firms are breaking this dangerous cycle by implementing financial wellness programs which can help curb excessive spending and poor lifestyle choices.


Lawyers are at a higher risk of lifestyle inflation

Although lawyers are educated on advanced concepts like estate planning, contracts, and other “financial” topics, their personal financial literacy may be shockingly low.

Especially for those in Big Law, associates are used to being promoted each calendar year and automatically receiving a generous salary increase. This makes it easy to live above their means, artificially inflating their lifestyle while putting off saving. On top of carrying a heavy burden of debt, this can be a recipe for disaster, and benefits professionals are bringing on programs to help curb this vicious financial stress cycle.



Financial Wellness for Lawyers

By making financial wellness a corporate priority, you can meet these top 5 financial wellness needs of your employees, while driving organizational goals too.

Establishing a Financial Wellness program at your organization will:

  • Increase employee retention and engagement
  • Increase productivity, because employees aren’t distracted by financial worries
  • Drive participation in and contribution to employer-sponsored benefits and retirement plans (especially 401(k), HSA and FSA)
  • Result in better physical health for your teams, as financially well employees are less prone to illness
  • Build brand reputation and differentiate your organization’s benefits package when hiring top talent

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