Compared to the level of satisfaction of other lawyers, lawyers in the health care practice area appear to be in good shape. But their job satisfaction levels in the first quarter of 2021 were on the decline. Why? Likely due to the increased burden of Covid-19 on these professionals, coupled with a pre-existing lack of guidance and mentorship in this area of practice.
Bloomberg law Lawyers’ workload and working hours survey asked lawyers in May to rate their overall job satisfaction, with 0 being “very dissatisfied” and 10 being “very satisfied”. Lawyers in health and healthcare had an average score of 6.7, while the average for all lawyers was 6.4.
However, when health lawyers were asked to rate the job satisfaction they felt in the last quarter in particular, they said they were less satisfied, with an average score of 6.0. (The first trimester score in all practice areas also fell, to an average of 5.7.)
Few mentors and a lot of stress
Why have health advocates been so dissatisfied lately? Perhaps because healthcare law practices generally cannot provide enough experienced mentors to provide sound advice to less experienced lawyers wishing to specialize in this area, resulting in frustration and high stress levels. While this is not a new issue, the increasing burdens on these lawyers due to Covid-19 can make the situation worse and lead to lower satisfaction levels.
Lawyers working in this practice area can be largely alone in understanding the nuances of guiding clients through a complicated litany of compliance issues – from HIPAA confidentiality to contract physician employment to tax-exempt status for physicians. non-profit hospitals – which even existed before the pandemic.
Once Covid-19 hit, health lawyers had the added burden of keeping abreast of the rapid build-up from the Department of Health and Human Services 1135 exemptions so that they can properly advise clients regarding HIPAA, Medicare and Medicaid requirements (not to mention state and local mandates).
While things weren’t particularly bright for health lawyers in the first trimester, their overall job satisfaction means that they have maintained an optimistic outlook on their careers. This is encouraging, given that the new challenges of the pandemic era make health advocates more needed than ever. It is essential for seasoned practitioners in this area to offer more guidance to less experienced colleagues in order to improve overall job satisfaction in this area of practice for the foreseeable future.
With assistance from Raquel Bracho, Senior Legal Analyst at Bloomberg Law, and Practice Leader Matthew Loughran.
Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our Focus: the well-being of lawyers page.
If you are reading this on the Bloomberg terminal, please run BLAW OUT