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Number of lawyers calling mental health helpline at record high

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One half are trainees and junior lawyers

LawCare, a mental health charity that runs a helpline for stressed-out lawyers, has revealed it handled 900 calls from 616 callers in 2017, an 11% increase on the year before. Forty-five percent of 2017’s callers were trainees or had been qualified for less than five years.

Common reasons for LawCare calls include: depression (17%), anxiety (7%), financial problems (4%), and bullying and harassment (4%). But the most frequently-cited topic of all was workplace stress (27%).

Though the legal profession is opening its eyes to the likes of agile working initiatives, it’s undeniable law can be a stressful profession to work in. Particularly at the top City firms, trainees and solicitors can expect to work an average of more than 10 hours a day and well beyond 8pm (Legal Cheek has collected data on firms’ average arrive and leave the office times).

Unfortunately, long hours and heavy workloads can have a terrible impact. As Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare, explains:

“Law can be a pressured industry to work in with long hours and a heavy workload which can lead to stress and mental health issues.”

Legal Cheek reported earlier this month on a junior lawyer who claimed a “toxic” environment at her firm, where billing targets were “aggressively” implemented, caused her extreme stress. “Almost daily I would be in tears due to the pressures I was under,” she said. “My hair started to fall out and I put on weight.”

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

The impact of work stress and mental health can strike in law school, too.

Recently, Legal Cheek reported on three suspected suicides that had recently taken place in the Bristol law student community. While there is no indication law school pressures were the cause of any three of the student deaths, comments on the article included: “So much pressure to succeed, especially as a professional grade salary is now necessary to sustain the sort of humble existence that a low grade managerial job would have sustained in the 70s”, and:

“The LLB is an intensive degree, no matter which institution you attend. To make the degree worse, a 2:1, which many non-law students would consider to be a decent grade, is dead average for anyone interested in being a realistic candidate to become a qualified lawyer. The job prospects for wannabe lawyers are bloody dreadful as it is. Law is a grossly expensive profession to get into. The list goes on.”

Elizabeth Rimmer stresses that: “LawCare is here for all legal professionals through our helpline, we offer one-on-one peer support and we also work with employers to promote wellbeing at work. We would encourage the legal community not to stay silent and to contact us for support if needed.”

You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK or 1800 991 801 in Ireland.

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6 Comments

Not Amused

I think it is very important that people who are suffering get help and that resources are available. Being a lawyer is tough and demanding.

It is also important to note:

– there are 186,000 solicitors on the roll
– there are 16,500 barristers with practicing certificates
– A website called Legal Cheek estimates there are 80,000 paralegals
– we can estimate trainees and pupils at a total of 6,000

Then that is roughly 288,000 people who might call this charity. The charity is particularly well advertised. Only 616 people called.

So of the total population who might call, 0.2% of people are calling.

Anonymous

i think if more people knew about lawcare, more people would call – thats for definite.

its only known on legalcheek, annd even then many people gloss over the advertising and dont pay much atttention.

the problem is, people treat people like its the hunger games or something. people fighting each other and being bitchy with one another for anything….even if they dont like the look of you or yoy are not the correct social fit……this starts from law school and is really bad at lpc / bptc stage…

law needs a wholesale cultural change……..

Anonymous

Absolutely right. Law Care was established in 1997 which was a surprise to me when I looked it up. I had thought that it was a very recent development. I had absolutely no idea that it existed when I was in practice, so the stat above about a tiny proportion of legal professionals calling it is meaningless and certainly doesn’t mean that over 99% of legal professionals are doing fine. So many people in law are seriously struggling with mental health concerns and they won’t have a clue that this is available.

Booth

Trainees and paralegals for the most part are underpaid and overworked – solicitors treat them like slaves. It’s worse still for paralegals who have a TC dangled in front of them for years whilst watching other graduates earn more and have less stress. People are scum for the most part and will use and abuse you. At least give law graduates who have worked hard to get their LLBs decent pay and hours them at least dealing with petty idiots will be more bearable.

Anonymous

Annually, 1 in 4 people experience some form of mental health issue, be it anxiety, depression, the two combined, phobias, PTSD, the list goes on.
The problem that we have is mental health, particularly talking about it, is still one of societies taboos, a mental health issue is seen by some as a sign of weakness, and by others, its carte blanch to mock. Is it any wonder then that people can be reluctant to seek the help they need?

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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