Now is the time to change the culture around wellbeing and mental ill-health in the legal sector

New research has found that legal professionals are at higher risk of burnout, mental ill-health, discrimination and harassment, leading the Law Society of England and Wales to add its voice to the sector-wide call that now is the time to change the culture and practice of law.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Legal professionals are at higher risk of burnout due to a culture of long working hours, high workloads and not speaking up about work pressures or discussing mental ill-health.

“This new research by LawCare comes at a pivotal moment for the profession, as it seeks to embrace new ways of working following lockdown measures imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw many solicitors working from home.

“Mental health and wellbeing are priorities for my presidential term and I have selected LawCare as one of the three presidential charities I will support in office, because of the invaluable work they do to provide mental health advice and support to legal professionals throughout the UK.”

59% of respondents said they were more concerned about increased pressures around work-life balance and 28% either agreed or strongly agreed their work meant they had to be available to clients 24/7, with 65% saying they checked emails outside work hours.

In the 12 months preceding the survey, 69% of legal professionals reported experiencing mental ill-health. Only half of them had talked about it at work.

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “Now is the time to change the way we talk about wellbeing and mental health in the profession, as the landscape has changed so much due to the pandemic, forcing us to work from home and embrace a new way of working via flexible or hybrid models.

“In order to tackle these issues, we encourage our member firms and organisations to ensure they are providing regular catch-ups, training for managers, mental health and wellbeing education, and mental health policies, as well as signposting sources of support. That way we can begin to work towards a psychologically safe, healthy and supportive workplace.

“Improving mental wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility. The culture and practice of law must change, and now is the time to do it. We’re committed to working with others to make that happen.”

Notes to editors

Read LawCare’s report in full

Read about supporting legal professionals through LawCare

Read the presidential year plan 2021-2022

Read our resources on mental health and disability

Read our resources on wellbeing

Visit LawCare for more resources

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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