Supporting legal professionals through LawCare

As part of her presidential year plan, Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce selected three charities to work with. Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, tells us what LawCare is and how law firms and individuals can get involved in supporting their work.

I. Stephanie Boyce stands outside the Law Society building wearing a dark suit. Her hair is cropped and she is smiling widely. "At the outset of my term as president of the Law Society of England and Wales in March 2021, I set out seven priority areas that I would focus on during my time in office.

One of my priorities is the mental health and wellbeing of solicitors throughout England and Wales.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for a renewed focus on the mental health and wellbeing of our members.

Throughout the pandemic, the Law Society has looked to support solicitors with a wellbeing and mental health hub, guidance on how to work remotely, and through providing careers resources.

Good mental health and wellbeing must be valued and encouraged, and where environments do not facilitate this, change must be realised.

It is for this reason I am delighted to introduce LawCare, one of the organisations I have selected as a presidential charity and will support during my term in office.

LawCare has been active for almost 25 years and provides invaluable mental health advice and support to legal professionals throughout the UK. They also seek to drive positive change in the sector through education and training, promoting wellbeing and breaking the stigmas that still surround mental health.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading more about them below and getting involved in their crucial work in the legal sector."

I. Stephanie Boyce


LawCare

LawCare is an independent charity offering emotional support to legal professionals in the UK, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man through our helpline, peer support network, website, and training and talks to legal organisations.

We’ve been supporting legal professionals for nearly 25 years. We raise awareness of wellbeing issues across the legal community, tackle stigma and promote good mental health and wellbeing in legal workplaces.

We work to drive change in legal education, training and practice to improve the culture and practice of law to better support lawyer wellbeing.

We are delighted I. Stephanie Boyce has chosen mental health as one of her key priorities during her presidency, and that she has chosen LawCare as one of the charities the Law Society will support.

We have a longstanding history with the Law Society of England and Wales, who were instrumental in setting us up in 1997.

The Law Society plays a vital role in helping to fund our support service, raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues, and reaching those who need us.

Our support service

Our free and confidential emotional support service is a safe place to talk without judgement, with calls, online chats and emails answered by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law.

We understand life in the law and all its challenges - this is what makes our support service unique, as those who contact us speak to one of their peers in the profession. Our team have been specifically selected and trained in listening skills and are empathetic and non-judgemental.

Most legal professionals find that one or two conversations with our support service are enough to help them move forward and have clarity about what to do next.

We often signpost contacts to various organisations who can help with particular issues, assist with accessing further support, or suggest next steps such as how to broach a conversation with your manager, for example,

Louise* contacted us for support last year after a very difficult time in her life exacerbated by the pandemic. She said:

“I am most grateful to you for listening to me when this whole episode unfolded and when I thought my whole world had fallen apart.

You were very calm and reassured me that things would get better and it did help offloading everything to someone who understood the issues involved. You offered much needed support which helped me get through the horrible shock of what had happened.

It was very helpful being able to share a very stressful situation with someone in the profession. I think your organisation offers invaluable support to lawyers at times when they may feel that there is nowhere they can turn for help.”

Our peer support network

For those who are struggling with an ongoing issue, we also have a network of 80 trained volunteer peer supporters who offer emotional support by telephone over a period of weeks or months.

Our supporters all have first-hand experience of legal education, training and practice and have lived experience of a difficult time in their personal or professional life, so are well placed to help other legal professionals.

Our peer supporters reflect the diversity of the legal profession and are drawn from all branches of the legal profession and career stages. They are from different age groups, genders, and ethnic groups.

One of our peer supporters, Claire, told us:

“One of the real privileges of this is being able to say that I have stood where they have stood and understand what they are thinking, and have felt the anxieties they are feeling.

When you’ve had a critical illness, just going to work presents you with a whole new set of issues you’ve never experienced before and it can be an exceptionally bumpy ride, often feeling like you are taking one step forward and two steps back.

It's truly amazing for me to walk that journey with another person, knowing that I have also taken those steps, but also to walk with them for a time, to a place when the rollercoaster is less bumpy.”

What can LawCare help with?

The most common issues we help with are:

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • depression 
  • addiction 
  • bereavement
  • relationship problems at work 
  • returning to work after illness or a career break 
  • worrying if law is the right career for you 
  • facing disciplinary proceedings either by your regulator or employer
  • COVID-19 related concerns such as feeling isolated, struggling with working from home, supervision, fears about returning to work

How you can support LawCare

Get in touch

The LawCare helpline is 0800 279 6888 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm) or you can email support@lawcare.org.uk.

You can also find information and resources, and access our online chat on the LawCare website.

LawCare also offers training remotely and in person for legal workplaces and organisations on mental health and wellbeing.

We also have a free course on managing and understanding emotions and stress and developing healthy working practices which you can access on the Fit for Law website.