Protecting the mental health of legal professionals
Life in the law can be tough, exacerbated by uncertainties with Covid-19 and increased home working. External challenges driving economic uncertainty and cost challenges can magnify distress in a sector where long hours, an unrelenting workload and high expectations are common and can lead to psychological exhaustion.
Why mental health matters?
Working in law is a rewarding yet demanding profession with long hours, high workloads, intense client demands and emotionally challenging cases and intense competition. These factors can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and stress that have been shown to drive lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity (Centre for Mental Health, 2007).
Apart from the financial impact, corporate social responsibility and moral obligation for your teams well being, there are legal obligations as laid down in the Health and Safety at Work Act. As noted in the Law Gazette all these factors are driving a move to make mental health top of the legal agenda (Law Society Gazette, 2020)
But is enough being done? The Law Society’s Junior Law division 2019 report suggests not finding that over three-quarters (77%) of respondents thought their employer could be doing more to provide help/guidance/support to employees in relation to stress at work.
What can you do?
We can acknowledge the need to promote the well-being of employees as well as appreciate that teams can’t provide an effective client service if they are mentally suffering. The challenge is knowing what we can do and how to put things into practice without exacerbating the problem by fueling lawyer self-blame for not being able to change and manage the situation.
The Law Society recommends three areas of focus:
- Support - to provide employees with the tools they need to manage and raise issues
- Culture - to remove the stigma around mental issues and promote a positive working culture
- Education and training – to empower employees to thrive
At The Practice we believe it starts with a conversation. If employers and senior partners endorse and promote mental health, then staff will have the confidence to anonymously refer themselves to an external therapy clinic like The Practice. It’s the stigma of mental illness that prevents stressed lawyers from asking for help early. Addressing emotional issues before they become significant problems not only benefits the member of staff but prevents issues becoming a significant problem leading to relationship difficulties, time-off and losing clients.
In offering a specialized full therapeutic and coaching service for legal professionals the Practice can support employees in a one to one coaching and therapeutic environment. Interventions and support can be tailored to address the issue and pressures the individual is facing.
In addition, The Practice can help you implement a well-being programme to develop a positive working culture and provide tailored training and education on well-being topics such as:
- Managing workloads - work engagement vs burnout
- Managing stress and building resilience
- Conflict management
- Emotional intelligence
- Time management - Gaining back control and autonomy
- Improving well-being
- Dealing with bereavement in the firm
- Training line managers in dealing with mental health matters
Our highly skilled professional team of therapists includes lawyers who have re-trained to become therapists adding an increased insight into the difficulties associated with this profession. Supported by our specialist practitioners and life coaches, we have the skills and experience to uniquely support you.
The next step is to contact us at The Practice or call us on 0333 0096 321.
Above The Law, 2019, Can We Finally Talk About The Elephant In the Room? Mental Health Of Lawyers, viewed 4 October 2020,
Law Society Gazette, 2020, Moving mental health to the top of the legal agenda, viewed 4 October 2020
Law Society Gazette, 2019, Lawyers are second most stressed professionals, research claims, viewed 4 October 2020
The Law Society, 2019, JLD resilience and wellbeing survey report 2019, viewed 4 October 2020