Negative stress is a real problem in the legal profession and there is a long way to go to alleviate the stigma surrounding mental ill-health. When starting out on a career in the legal profession most students believe they have the skills required to work in a high-pressured environment. Unfortunately, these skills are not usually taught at university and do not ordinarily form part of legal training. For junior lawyers struggling to keep up with the pace, this can be quite isolating. The legal profession is therefore at risk of losing some of its best talent if it does not act now.
Over the last two years the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has undertaken research regarding negative stress and mental ill-health of junior lawyers. The results of the 2017 survey showed that more than 90 per cent of junior lawyers who took the survey had experienced negative stress in the last month with 26 per cent of those experiencing severe/extreme levels of stress. In relation to mental ill-health, more than 25 per cent of respondents had experienced a mental health problem in the last month (whether formally diagnosed or not). Read more about the 2017 survey results .
The JLD ran its survey on resilience and wellbeing again this year. The results of this year’s survey showed that over 82 per cent of respondents had experienced negative stress in the last month with 26 per cent of those experiencing severe/extreme levels of stress. 38 per cent of respondents had experienced a mental health problem in the last month (whether formally diagnosed or not) - an increase of 13 per cent from the year before. Read more about the 2018 survey results .
In February 2018 the JLD released guidance for employers which encourages organisations employing junior lawyers to adopt a more proactive and inclusive approach to mental health. The guidance is split into three core pillars:
View a copy of the guidance - the JLD would be extremely grateful if you were able to circulate a copy in your organisation.
The JLD is aware of the various pressures that junior lawyers are under and if any members would like support in relation to stress or other related mental health conditions, please contact LawCare in confidence for more information. You can also find details of additional organisations which are there to help in the support pages of the above mentioned JLD survey reports and the employer guidance and below.
The following blogs were published during Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2018.
A charity that supports and promotes good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community, provides resources and a confidential helpline (0800 279 6888). See extract from the LawCare annual report 2017 on issues by gender and PQE (PDF)
Charity that helps solicitors in series financial need because of illness, accident, redundancy or other adversity (020 8675 6440).
The Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme offers free confidential help and advice for all solicitors in England and Wales, their families and employees on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional.
The Law Society offers practical advice and assistance to solicitors and employees of solicitors, enabling them to provide the best service to their clients. They can also direct you to the most appropriate support for any professional or personal problems you may be facing.