Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Well-being: A study of attorney beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions
by Ramos, Pearlette J., Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2012, 172; 3541419
Abstract (Summary)

Research reviewed indicated attorneys suffer higher incidences of suicide, depression, and substance abuse than other professions; however, very few studies addressed lawyers' psychological well-being. This study used a mixed-methods design to investigate the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of well-being among Arizona attorneys. An email with a link to the Scale of Psychological Well-Being, along with 15 demographic questions, was sent to 14,494 active members of the State Bar of Arizona, of which 691 returned surveys that qualified for the study, yielding a 4.7% response. Sixteen participants were divided in 2 focus-group discussions. Descriptive and Pearson correlations showed that Arizona attorneys reported experiencing well-being with 5 key distinctions: (1) Attorneys reported higher levels of autonomy than members of the normative group; however, they had lower levels of self-acceptance, purpose in life, and environmental mastery dimensions; (2) There was a significant positive relationship between total psychological well-being scores and (a) the self-reported level of life and career satisfaction; (b) those who enjoyed their practice area and those working in alternative dispute resolution, medical malpractice, and public law; and (c) environmental mastery; (3) Attorneys who did not consider their work stressful had higher psychological well-being; (4) There was a positive correlation between length of time practicing law and psychological well-being; and (5) There was a significant positive relationship between attorneys' levels of environmental mastery and their psychological well-being and between years worked as an attorney and autonomy. The focus groups responded that: (a) law practice is inherently stressful with unique stressors that negatively impact well-being; (b) attorneys with significant legal experience expressed greater well-being; and (c) lawyers found satisfaction in their work based on many factors including helping people achieve their goals, having freedom in their work, good health, amicable colleagues, engagement in volunteer and recreational activities, intellectually stimulating work, positive relations with others, spiritual/religious beliefs and practices, making a good living, and creativity. Future research is needed to develop further understanding of attorney experiences, particularly how cultural and practice area attitudes and client interactions affect attorney well-being.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Pritzker, Steven
Commitee: Richards, Ruth, Vaughan, Alan
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Law, Psychology, Occupational psychology
Keywords: Attorney, Happiness, Life satisfaction, Psychological well-being, Secondary traumatic stress, Well-being
Publication Number: 3541419
ISBN: 978-1-267-67563-7
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