Coronavirus Impact Survey

The coronavirus pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on all our lives. The Next 100 Years seeks to gain an insight into the impact on women working in the legal profession by examining their experiences and evaluating the long-term consequences for the profession.

We have so far created and shared two online survey taken by women from across the legal profession- one in May and one in October 2020. You can find out the results of our surveys below.

October 2020 Survey Findings:

Taken by over 400 women in law.

1) Wages and work

Alarming news as income, working hours and job cuts affect significant proportions of women in law. Out of 419 women:

  • 24% have not seen their incomes return to pre-Covid levels
  • 19% had not seen their working hours go back to pre-Covid levels
  • 32% worked for organisations which had made redundancies as a result of the pandemic
  • 52% suspected that some firms were using the pandemic as an excuse for cuts
  • 55% said that they thought women in the profession were being disproportionately impacted by cuts and redundancies
  • Despite this, and the positive side, there is widespread confidence in how the future will pan out in this area:
  • only 9% thought their job would be at risk in the next six months
  • 70% still expected their organisation to be resilient to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic</li?
  • 76% said that their organisation was handling the pandemic well.
  • 2) Health and caringThe pandemic continues to take a toll on mental health for most women in law and has increased the caring responsibilities of most of us:
  • 63% said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health
  • 55% said that their caring responsibilities had increased since the pandemic had begun, either due to increased childcare or caring for vulnerable or shielding relatives
  • 3) Impact on those with children under 16
  • Of those with children under 16, 59% said they had fewer childcare options available to them than before the pandemic
  • 69% anticipated having to take time off in the coming months due to school or nursery closures or their family having to self-isolate
  • 51% expected that in that situation they would take on more of the childcare than their partner
  • 45% were concerned their employer would be less understanding about childcare issues as the pandemic went on
  • 4) Remote working
  • 55% were working entirely from home with only 10% working either entirely or mostly from the office
  • 16% felt under pressure to work from the office more than they felt comfortable with
  • 75% said their organisation was planning a partial return to the office over the next six months
  • 21% were expecting to stick with remote working only
  • Only 4% anticipated a full return to the office
  • 31% of employers had changed their policy on remote working permanently and of those whose employers had not yet done so, 33% expected that they would in time
  • May 2020 Survey Findings:

    Taken by 900 women in law.

    1) Confidence in Business

    The positive news is that the findings revealed overall confidence that firms were handling the crisis well and that business would eventually return to normal. Out of 870 women:

    • 91% of women questioned were working from home
    • 77% felt that their firm or chambers were handling the crisis well
    • 70% were expecting their businesses to bounce back once the crisis is over
    • 20% had volunteered or acted pro-bono during the crisis

    2) Alarming consequences for mental and financial health

    However, the survey highlighted some alarming impacts on both mental health and income, with both taking hits in the face of the crisis. Out of 870 women:

    • 66% of women said the crisis is having an impact on their mental health
    • 37% were experiencing a drop in income
    • But only 6% of employers reduced respondents’ formal work hours & 3% of respondents requested reduced hours
    • 67% reported that their employer had furloughed staff

    3) Increased childcare responsibilities and difficulty juggling these

    A large portion, 350 respondents, had school age children at home. The vast majority of these were taking on more childcare responsibilities and most were struggling to juggle this alongside their work responsibilities. Out of these 350 respondents:

    • 91% were taking on extra childcare and home schooling responsibilities
    • 32% were forced to reduce their working hours to do so
    • 49% said they were taking on more childcare responsibilities than their partner
    • 73% were finding the situation hard to juggle

    4) Concerns for equality and diversity

    Lastly, the survey revealed a couple big concerns moving forward. It is clear that many women in law are concerned about the impact the crisis will have on equality & diversity. However, there is a sense that the take up of flexible working may increase in the future. Out of 870 women:

    • 65% of respondents were concerned that the lockdown was exaggerating existing inequalities between men and women
    • Over 50% voiced concerns that the diversity initiatives will fall by the wayside as financial pressures grow post-crisis
    • 83% expect an increased acceptance of home working or flexible working after the crisis is over

    Press Coverage:


    Thank you to those who took part!

    We would like to thank everyone who took our survey for sharing their input and helping us understand the impact of this crisis.