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Associate attorney is the unhappiest job in America, survey says

Posted Apr 1, 2013 5:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Long work days and billable-hour pressures are well-known in the legal world. Now a jobs website is taking notice in a new list of the top 10 unhappiest jobs in America.

Associate attorney is No. 1, making it the unhappiest job, Forbes reports in a story noted by Above the Law. Legal assistant is No. 7 on the unhappiest jobs list, compiled by the jobs website CareerBliss.

Heidi Golledge, chief executive of CareerBliss, told Forbes why associates are so unhappy. “In many cases, law firms are conducted in a structured environment that is heavily centered on billable hours. It may take several years for an associate attorney to rise to the rank of partner,” Golledge said. “People in this position rated the way they work and the rewards they receive lower than any other industry.”

CareerBliss based its list on reviews completed by more than 65,000 employees last year. The employees rated key factors that affect happiness on the job, including work-life balance, relationships with bosses and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and control over daily work.

The top five unhappiest jobs are:

1) Associate attorney

2) Customer service associate

3) Clerk

4) Registered nurse

5) Teacher

The top five happiest jobs are:

1) Real estate agent

2) Senior quality assurance engineer

3) Senior sales representative

4) Construction superintendent

5) Senior applications designer

Says Above the Law: “If you’re interested in being happier, it’s worth noting that in some jurisdictions, your admission to the bar allows you to seamlessly transfer to the happiest position in the survey: ‘Real Estate Agent.’ So get out there and start selling lawyerly lairs instead of trying to live in them.”

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