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Work Stress and Coping amongst Lawyers in Singapore

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This paper studied the work stressors and coping strategies of lawyers in Singapore. Data collection involved the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods — a survey of 450 lawyers and in-depth interviews with 27 lawyers. This study found that while time pressure and work overload were the most stressful aspects of lawyering work, social interactions and interpersonal relationships at work proved to be a salient work stressor, when lawyers were dealing with clients, fellow lawyers and judges — that is, interpersonal stress. This study explains how lawyers constantly monitor and adjust their actions to negotiate for control or 'power' over others in their attempts to cope with work stress. In examining the correlation between lawyers' perceptions of work stress and their coping behaviours, this paper reveals that while lawyers tended to report more problem-focused than emotion-focused coping ways, the correlation analysis informed that emotion-focused and help-seeking coping ways were significantly correlated with interpersonal stress, such as in dealing with clients and colleagues. This study further shows that lawyers invoke social and psychological coping resources to position themselves strategically within prevailing power relations to cope with their interpersonal stress at work.

Affiliations: 1: SIM University, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Ritsuemeikan Asia Pacific University


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