In-House Counsel

Most deputy general counsel dissatisfied in current roles, new study shows

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Deputy general counsel are reporting widespread burnout and dissatisfaction in a new study published Wednesday by legal talent provider Axiom and market research consultant Wakefield Research.

According to, which reported on its results, 200 deputy general counsel at companies with more than $5 billion in annual revenues participated in the study. All of them reported feeling “stressed or burned out” in their current role, including 51% who said they feel very or extremely stressed or burned out.

“What are these front-line DGCs seeing and experiencing?” the study says. “A parallel crisis of budget cuts and increasingly complex workloads. Nearly all DGCs (98%) say their legal department budget has been cut as a result of economic conditions and ongoing volatility—including more than half (56%) who say the budget has been cut a great deal. But even as budgets shrink, workloads rise; virtually all DGCs (99%) report their department is seeing an increase in both the volume and complexity of legal matters.”

These statistics will likely lead to more turnover, according to Axiom and Wakefield Research, as 22% of deputy general counsel reported actively looking for a new job. Another 65% are not searching yet but plan to start within the next year.

When deputy general counsel were asked about their dissatisfaction, 86% noted undesirable attributes about their current position. More than two-thirds said limited professional development and advancement opportunities were the primary causes. As a result, the study says, 73% feel they will have to change employers to move up in their careers.

In addition to problems with their career path, many deputy general counsel cited quality-of-life issues that are contributing to their diminished satisfaction. Forty percent reported limited or no remote work opportunities, 27% reported poor company culture, and 26% reported poor work/life balance.

Deputy general counsel also responded to questions about staffing and the use of outside law firms.

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