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Legal helpline calls on bullying and harassment double

25 January 2019

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Calls reporting bullying and harassment to LawCare’s helpline almost doubled last year, according to figures from the legal mental health charity this week.

Reports of emotional problems related to bullying and harassment at work rose from 38 in 2017 to 68 last year.

The charity, which has been offering emotional support to the profession for 20 years, reported that the majority of callers were women (64%) and 48% were trainees or pupils, or were within their first five years of qualification.

Overall, 2018 saw the greatest number of calls the helpline has ever received, with 932 calls from 624 callers, a 5% increase on the number of calls in 2017.

The most common reason for calling was stress (26%), followed by depression (19%) and anxiety (11%).

Other issues included concerns about disciplinary proceedings (8%), career development (9%), chronic illness, alcohol and drugs, and relationship issues.

LawCare, CEO Elizabeth Rimmer (pictured) said: “Whilst we are pleased more lawyers are reaching out to us for support, we remain increasingly concerned about the long hours and heavy workload culture in the law, which significantly affects wellbeing.

“We are particularly concerned about the number of callers citing bullying and harassment in the workplace, it is absolutely essential that legal practice organisations take steps to stamp this out and take the wellbeing and treatment of staff seriously.”

LawCare’s figures come just weeks after former trainee solicitor Tamara Rossi launched an online petition demanding the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Law Society overhaul their procedures for dealing with bullying in law firms.

Having experienced ‘complex and severe’ bullying herself while a trainee at Easthams Solicitors in Blackpool during her 20s, Rossi is calling for regulators to take the issue more seriously.

Her petition has received just over 230 signatures to date.

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HR & Development HR Ethics, professionalism and judgement