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Don’t take work calls and avoid your emails over Christmas, urges law well-being charity

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Too often the grind continues over festive period

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A leading law well-being charity has urged lawyers to make the most of the upcoming Christmas holidays, advising them to put down their smartphones and take a proper break from work.

LawCare — a charity set up in 1997 to help lawyers curb their stress-related problems — has called on overworked members of the legal profession to avoid taking “calls from the office” and “resist the urge to check emails”.

Stressing (no pun intended) that lawyers need to recharge their batteries and enter “the new year feeling refreshed”, LawCare has advised that legal professionals “relax and use the time off to catch up” with family and friends where possible.

For those lucky enough to have a colleague step into the breach while they are away, the charity — whose confidential helpline received in excess of 900 calls in 2015 — reminds lawyers to “give them a good briefing” to ensure downtime isn’t interrupted.

But given the physical and mental demands that come with working in the legal profession, particularly corporate law, is switching off easier said than done?

Speaking to Legal Cheek, one top City lawyer claimed that if a client had a crisis over the Christmas break it would be “impractical” or possibly “negligent” to ignore. Continuing, he said:

I lost what turned out to be the last Christmas with my grandfather when the entirely relaxed, family man that I was working for turned Boxing Day into a frenzied scramble through ten drafts of a letter that had to be sent that very holiday. Combine those realities with the factors entirely beyond your control (litigators’ desire to give the other side ‘something to chew over’ with their turkey, or corporate’s need to close the deal/books before the end of the year) and, if you can get through the Christmas without being disturbed, it’s likely that your practice is not busy enough.

The unpredictability of life at the corporate law coalface is well documented. In October Legal Cheek unveiled the average office arrival and leave times for lawyers across 56 UK-based firms. The statistics — which were published on World Mental Health Day — showed that gruelling 11-hour days were not uncommon. Revealing that “work can overtake life”, one survey respondent said that “plans usually get delayed and sometime are cancelled”.

You can contact LawCare (even on Christmas day) here.