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Talent & Culture

Finding purpose & having a social impact: Lawyers & tax professionals speak out

What do professionals in the legal and tax & accounting industries think about their jobs in terms of finding a purpose in what they do and feeling their work has an impact on their local community and on society at large?

Professionals in both the legal and tax industries said they feel a great sense of purpose in their work, according to the results of a new survey by Thomson Reuters, Finding purpose and having a social impact: Lawyers & tax professionals speak out.

Indeed, more than 90% of legal and tax professionals say their work provides them with a significant sense of professional purpose, which suggests that the work itself is closely aligned with their personal values and beliefs.

In 2021, Thomson Reuters surveyed thousands of attorneys and tax professionals from around the world to find out if their work provides them with a sense of professional purpose, and whether they feel their work has a broader impact on their community and society at large — and if so, how? For the legal profession, results were separated into two different camps: law-firm attorneys and in-house corporate counsel. For tax & accounting professionals, responses were grouped into tax advisors (mainly small firm or independent practitioners) and in-house corporate tax department professionals.

The survey questions were open-ended, so in addition to statistical data, the written survey responses offer a unique anecdotal account of legal and accounting work from the perspective of leaders in both professions. For example, one law firm attorney pointed out that she found a sense of purpose in her work by helping her clients succeed, which in turn benefited the general public. “My work promotes justice and the rule of law. Through both commercial and pro bono work, I help foster a common understanding that rights can be protected, and grievances addressed in a fair and impartial manner,” she wrote.


You can download a copy of Thomson Reuters’ Finding purpose and having a social impact: Lawyers & tax professionals speak out, here.


The attorneys surveyed were from more than 60 countries and represented a broad range of practices, while the tax & accounting professionals surveyed came mainly from the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, Canada, and Australia.

The survey demonstrated that the vast majority of respondents in both professions believe that their jobs provide them with a significant sense of professional purpose, and that part of that sense of purpose has to do with the many ways in which their work has a broader social impact and contributes to the greater good, either in their community, globally, or both.

Drilling deeper, differences among legal and tax professionals emerged, even as both say they are proud of the fact that their companies and clients create jobs, expand the local tax base, and — depending on the business — address many societal needs through their products and services (for example, in the healthcare, education, energy, infrastructure, and communication industries). Survey respondents also showed they care more than some might expect about social implications of their work, and see themselves as serving the greater good through the companies and firms they represent.

Taken as a whole, these survey responses represent the most candid assessment available of many personal aspects of the legal and accounting professions, as well as the extent to which these professionals are aware of, and care about, the impact their work has on society.

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