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 three 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 93.2% of junior lawyers who took the survey had experienced negative stress in the last month with 26.1% of those experiencing severe/extreme levels of stress.

In relation to mental ill-health, more than 25% 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 2018 survey showed that over 91.4% of respondents had experienced negative stress in the last month with 25.9% of those experiencing severe/extreme levels of stress.

38% of respondents had experienced a mental health problem in the last month (whether formally diagnosed or not).

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:

  1. education/training
  2. support
  3. culture

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 ran its survey on resilience and wellbeing again this year.

The results of this year’s survey showed that 93.5% of respondents had experienced negative stress in the last month with 24.8% of those experiencing severe/extreme levels of stress.

48% of respondents had experienced a mental health problem in the last month (whether formally diagnosed or not).

Read more about the 2019 survey results and view the infographic (PDF) showing the key findings.

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, 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.

Guidance

Supporting resilience and wellbeing in the workplace: Guidance for best practice

Free webinars

Stress in the legal profession – Chetna Bhatt, Being Lawyers

Stress and resilience - soft skills training for junior lawyers

JLD stress and resilience survey reports

Resilience and wellbeing survey report 2017

Resilience and wellbeing survey report 2018

Resilience and wellbeing survey report 2019

Research reports

Anxiety and wellbeing amongst junior lawyers: a research study by Professor Richard Collier, Newcastle University Law School (June 2019)

Articles

Is employee resilience training needed in the workplace?

Lawyer wellbeing from a new perspective

Taking care of business: talking about mental health at your work

Springing forward to summer: Tips for remaining resilient in tough times

How not to be an emotionally resilient lawyer

10 actionable productivity tips for legal professionals

‘Young’ vs ‘junior’ lawyers

New workplace wellbeing resource from Samaritans

Stop saying yes, start saying no

Interview with Kayleigh Leonie for Mental Health Awareness Week

Are employers doing enough to support junior lawyers’ wellbeing in the workplace?

Trauma exposure in law: what you need to know and do

Understanding workplace harassment

Workplace harassment: guidance for employers

Law students and junior lawyers need more support

It’s good to talk

Blogs

The following blogs were published during Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2018.

An introduction to mindfulness 1 – the doing and being modes

An introduction to mindfulness 2 – acknowledgement and acceptance

An introduction to mindfulness 3 – detachment

Life after bereavement

Culture change for better wellbeing

Sources of support

LawCare

See extract from the LawCare annual report 2017 on issues by gender and PQE (PDF)

Solicitors Benevolent Association

Charity that helps solicitors in series financial need because of illness, accident, redundancy or other adversity (020 8675 6440).

Solicitors Assistance Scheme

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.

Law Society helplines

The Law Society offers practical advice and assistance to solicitors and employees of solicitors, enabling them to provide the best service to their clients. We can also direct you to the most appropriate support for any professional or personal problems you may be facing.

Further sources of help and advice

Download our list of sources (PDF 81kb)