"So many wellbeing seminars by our firm, so little time to attend them."
More than two thirds of lawyers have experienced mental ill-health, with junior lawyers at risk of burnout, a survey conducted by a wellbeing and mental health charity has found.
In LawCare's survey of over 1,700 legal professionals across the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, 69% of participants revealed that they had suffered from mental ill-health in the 12 months leading up to the survey, with the most common disorder being anxiety.
Of the participants who had experienced mental ill-health, only 56% said they had talked about it at work. Those who had not disclosed it to their colleagues, said they feared the stigma around it could impact their career, reputation and earnings.
Almost a third of participants said their mental ill-health had put on a strain on their personal and family relationships. And 22% of participants said they felt unable to cope, with 6% saying they had experienced suicidal thoughts.
One in five participants said they had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
Participants aged between 26 and 35 years were deemed to be most at risk of burnout, with high work intensity, large workloads and long hours. 28% of participants said that they were required to be available to clients 24/7, and 65% said they checked their emails outside of working hours to keep on top of matters. The survey also revealed that 12% of lawyers were getting less than five hours sleep a night.
“This research, the first of its kind in this country, provides robust evidence that the legal profession is stressed, tired, anxious, at high risk of burnout and that those working practices in the law that undermine mental health need to change" said Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare. "The experience of living and working through a global pandemic has had a profound effect on us all and presents an opportunity like no other to reimagine the future and make it happen.”
"There is still much work to be done in combatting mental ill-health in the legal sector," said Manda Banjeri, Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society. She added that it should not be accepted that "stress is a given" and that junior lawyers should be "supported" and "supervised" and that "toxic working environments become a thing of the past."