How Many Hours Do Lawyers Work?

By Gabriela Jhean

Legal work pushes lawyers to their limits with hours that often surpass the standard full-time schedule. With most lawyers logging more than 40 hours per week, it’s no surprise that the profession is known as one of the most stressful careers

However, as conversations turn toward the effects of overworking on lawyers’ mental health, it’s important to ask: Can lawyers thrive professionally without sacrificing their personal well-being?

In this article, we’ll uncover the answer together. 

Join us as we reveal the average number of hours lawyers work per week, examine the toll it takes on their mental health, and explore strategies that promote well-being in a profession known for its unyielding demands. 

How Many Hours Do Lawyers Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most lawyers work more than 40 hours per week

Indeed reveals the following weekly averages based on firm size:

  • Large firm: 66 hours
  • Small and mid-sized firm: 42-54 hours

In addition to the firm size, other factors can influence a lawyer’s average weekly hours. For example, the firm’s geographic location, the type of law practice, and the individual’s years of experience.

Why Do Lawyers Work Long Hours?

How long do lawyers work? Long work hours are affected by deadlines and work complexity.

The drive to surpass the typical 40-hour schedule is often a result of necessity. Lawyers have unique demands that extend beyond practicing law and require significant time to fulfill. Let’s explore the factors that have the greatest impact on a lawyer’s schedule. 

1. Client Expectations and Deadlines

Lawyers are entrusted with representing their clients and striving for favorable outcomes. To meet client expectations and comply with court-imposed deadlines, lawyers often work extended hours to prepare cases thoroughly and respond promptly to legal matters.

2. Complexity of Legal Work

Legal practice involves grappling with intricate laws, regulations, and complex cases. Lawyers must conduct extensive research, analyze precedents, draft legal documents, and develop effective strategies. All these components necessitate a substantial time investment to ensure accuracy.

3. Billable Hour Model

Many law firms utilize the billable hour model, where lawyers’ compensation is tied to the number of hours they bill clients. In this system, lawyers have a financial incentive to work longer hours to increase billable time and maximize earnings. 

Unfortunately, this model does not include non-billable hours, which still account for a significant portion of a lawyer’s day-to-day workload. 

What Are the Dangers of Long Lawyer Hours?

While long hours may be necessary to meet demands, it’s important to recognize the potential dangers associated with overworking. 


In a high-stress environment where time is money, burnout is a possibility for many lawyers. A 2023 study revealed that 46% of lawyers said they were considering leaving the profession due to burnout or stress.

This type of work-related stress is usually more than just a one-off, overwhelming day. Instead, it can quickly encroach on one’s overall well-being. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is a “state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

The good news? By knowing the early signs of lawyer burnout, you can identify the issue and find a solution to overcome it. Knowledge is power, and staying in touch with how you’re feeling can make all the difference in taking care of your mental health.

Mental Health Issues

A Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey performed by ALM revealed the following about more than 3,800 legal professional participants:

  • 64% feel anxiety
  • 31.2% feel depressed
  • 10.1% feel they have an alcohol problem
  • 2.8% feel they have a drug problem

While these statistics are disheartening, having a conversation about lawyers’ mental health is pivotal to making a change in the industry. It also equips lawyers with the tools to identify changes in their own well-being, so that they can take proactive steps when they notice a decline.

High Levels of Stress

In an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Washington Post found that lawyers perform the single most stressful occupation.

High-stakes cases, heavy workloads, time pressure, emotional impact, and the adversarial nature of legal proceedings all play a role in creating a stressful environment. Lawyers bear significant responsibility for their clients’ cases, often facing tight deadlines and navigating emotionally charged situations. The pursuit of perfection, coupled with the highly competitive nature of the profession, can escalate stress to unmanageable levels. 

Understanding these factors is crucial for addressing the well-being and mental health of legal professionals, promoting work-life balance, and implementing strategies to mitigate stress.

How Can Lawyers Decrease Their Hours?

Lawyer work hours can decrease by task automation, delegation, and time tracking.

Despite the intense demands of legal work, there are strategies that lawyers can employ to reduce their working hours while maintaining productivity and safeguarding their well-being.

Automation of Basic Tasks

With legal case management software, such as MyCase, you can automate routine tasks and streamline your workload. Here are some ways MyCase workflow automation can free up time for billable hours and help you achieve a more balanced day:

  • Legal document generation: Automate your document creation processes with the help of Woodpecker, MyCase’s Word add-in. Woodpecker generates documents using client and case information stored directly in MyCase, helping you avoid inaccuracies and manual data entry. 
  • Calendar integration: Never miss a deadline, appointment, court rule, or client meeting when you integrate the MyCase calendaring software with your email software, like Gmail and Outlook. You can automate routing bookings or set up automatic reminders and notifications to be sent via text message, guaranteeing you’re current on all case and client events.
  • Invoice creation: Manually creating invoices is tedious and chips away at billable hours. MyCase makes this simple with legal invoicing software that uses the time-tracking entries you’ve already entered for each case. Once you’re ready to hit send, clients can receive invoices in the Client Portal, or via text message, email, or mail.  


When every minute matters, take an objective look at the activities that consume your day. Are there opportunities to lessen the load by delegating work to legal assistants, support staff, or other attorneys? Identifying these areas will allow you to concentrate on higher-level responsibilities that only you can perform.

Time Tracking

Record the day with legal time-tracking software that captures every minute. Take MyCase, for example. You can use up to three timers at once to seamlessly jump between cases and track every activity. Time spent on calls and emails is also automatically tracked, so you know exactly how much time went into each case and client interaction. 

With the Smart Time Finder, you can also quickly identify untracked billable tasks that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks.

Can Lawyers Achieve Work-Life Balance?

Striving for work-life balance is essential for lawyers to maintain their well-being and foster healthy careers in the long run. While it can be challenging, it is possible to find harmony between professional and personal life.

Here are some tips:

  • Work during your peak productivity hours to maximize your efficiency and energy
  • Set boundaries and establish dedicated non-work time
  • Utilize technology to help reduce manual tasks
  • Prioritize self-care, including regular breaks, exercise, and leisure activities
  • Make quality sleep a non-negotiable to feel well-rested for the day
  • Seek support from colleagues, mentors, friends, or family when you start to feel overwhelmed

Prioritize a Productive and Healthy Workday With MyCase

Don’t let the demands of the legal profession overshadow your mental health. Unlock a healthier, more fulfilling legal career with MyCase as your ally. With practice management tools to streamline workflows, reduce long lawyer work hours, and increase productivity, you’ll regain control of your time while elevating your practice to new heights.

Sign up for a 10-day free trial to experience the difference today. Your journey toward a more balanced and prosperous legal career starts now.