Law groups unify to create mental health taskforce

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By Thomas Connelly on

The move comes as research earlier this year revealed more than a third of calls to charity helpline were from stressed-out junior lawyers


Fifteen organisations working in the law have joined forces to create a new cross-profession taskforce with the aim promoting mental health and wellbeing for lawyers and other legal professionals.

The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce (LPWT) brings together representatives from legal and educational establishments to identify “mechanisms for establishing and sharing best practice”, improve how mental health and wellbeing is perceived and address the “stigma” attached to accessing support.

Those who have pledged allegiance to the cause include the Law Society, LawCare, the Bar Council, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx, CILEx Regulation, the Law Society’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the University of Law, BPP, Newcastle University, Linklaters, City Mental Health Alliance, the Junior Lawyers’ Division, and the Bar Standards Board.

Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive of LawCare — a charity set up in 1997 to help lawyers with stress-related problems — said:

LawCare has identified that there is very low awareness of the support and services available to those in the legal community, and that there is stigma attached to acknowledging mental health issues. There is also a lack of knowledge in the community itself about good practice and what that looks like, and to date there is no evaluative research on the effectiveness of existing wellbeing programmes.

Earlier this year, research undertaken by LawCare revealed that more than a third of calls received by the charity were from stressed-out junior lawyers. With more than 900 calls being made in 2015, the statistics showed that 39% were by trainees or lawyers who had been qualified five years or less.

With workplace stress by far the most common problem (30%), lawyers also made calls for issues relating to depression (20%), disciplinary issues (12%), financial problems (5%) and alcohol (4%).