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Law firms urged to tackle junior lawyers’ stress and mental health issues

Three-quarters of newly qualifieds consider taking time off work to cope with mental health problems

12 April 2017

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The Junior Lawyers Division has urged law firms to provide better training and support to both managers and trainees to help reduce high stress levels and mental health issues among newly qualified solicitors.

The call follows the publication of a JLD survey which found that over 93 per cent of junior lawyers had recently suffered stress, with 26 per cent of those being severely/extremely stressed.

Almost three-quarters said their firm could do more to support staff experiencing stress. The same number of respondents stated their employer did not provide any help, guidance, or support in relation to mental health in the workplace or that they did not know if their employer did.

More than 25 per cent said they had suffered with a mental health problem in the month before completing the survey. Under 24 per cent of those individuals had made their employer aware of it.

Over 74 per cent of those suffering with a mental health problem said that they had considered taking time off work but did not, with over two-thirds stating that it caused them to experience problems in their family life and relationships.

The survey of 214 junior lawyers showed that key stress factors include: high workload; lack of support; client demands/expectations; and ineffective management.

To combat and help reduce the negative impact of stress, a number of initiatives have advocated, including: more training for both management and junior lawyers; increased visibility of internal policies; support/counselling; greater supervision; and better management.

Kayleigh Leonie, the JLD’s council member, commented: ‘This survey highlights the huge pressure that junior lawyers feel as they begin their careers, and the impact of that pressure on their mental health. The JLD will be producing guidance for employers to support them with tackling stress and mental health issues affecting junior lawyers in the workplace.’

The president of the Law Society, Robert Bourns, added: ‘Law can be a very demanding career. We are driven to do our best for our clients, drawn to the intellectual challenge, and we may thrive on the high pressure the work entails.

‘However, if we hope to sustain a rewarding career and maintain the best services for clients, then our own, our colleagues’, and employees’ health and wellbeing are of paramount importance.

‘Solicitors experiencing stress at work should speak to their line manager or seek support sooner rather than later. The Law Society has a free helpline that offers confidential support for all our members. We also provide a range of resources to support good practice management.’

Solicitors needing advice can contact:

Law Society Pastoral Care Helpline: 020 7320 5795

LawCare: 0800 279 6888

Solicitors Benevolent Association: 020 8675 6440

Solicitors Assistance Scheme: 020 7117 8811

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