Nearly 100% of lawyers say their work provides them with a significant sense of professional purpose. That’s among the key takeaways from Finding purpose and having a social impact: Lawyers and tax professionals speak out, a new survey from Thomson Reuters.     

The survey asked thousands of attorneys – those in law firms and in-house corporate counsel – from more than 60 countries if their work provided them with a sense of professional purpose. The survey also gauged whether attorneys feel their work makes an impact on society. Legal Current explored the report and is highlighting five top takeaways.

5. Nearly 100% including 99% of attorneys in law firms and 92% of in-house attorneys say their work provides them with a strong sense of professional purpose. This suggests that the work itself is closely aligned with attorneys’ personal values and beliefs.

4. Similarly, 96% of attorneys in law firms and 87% of in-house attorneys feel their work makes a positive impact on their community and larger society. These figures show that legal professionals are guided by principles beyond their economic self-interest. In written comments, many respondents indicated that monetary compensation was not their only motivator to work hard.

3. Almost half (48%) of attorneys in law firms consider “enabling a civilized and orderly society” as the primary way their job makes an impact on society. They cited providing pro bono legal aid, achieving justice for clients, and upholding the rule of law as the top ways they enable a civilized society. Only 20% of in-house counsel feel the same way.

2. More than one-third (36%) of in-house attorneys say making a “direct impact on society” is how their job has a purposeful social impact. They highlighted creating Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives for their companies and clients among the ways they’re making a direct impact. Nearly one third (29%) of attorneys in law firms feel the same.

1. Attorneys see themselves as serving the greater good through the companies and firms they represent. Attorneys are proud of the impact their companies and clients are making through creating jobs, expanding the local tax base, and – depending on the business – addressing societal needs through their products and services, such as in healthcare, education, energy, infrastructure, and communications.

Download the full survey here, and watch Legal Current for a deeper dive on what the survey findings mean for the legal industry.


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