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Percentage of trainees experiencing mental health problems DOUBLES

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High workload and client demands cited as top causes of stress

The percentage of trainee solicitors experiencing mental health problems has more than doubled, according to new research from the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD).

Of the 332 trainees who responded to this year’s JLD survey, 39% reported experiencing a mental health problem, up from 19% last year. Overall, 39% of the 959 junior solicitors, trainees, paralegals and Legal Practice Course (LPC) students questioned said they had suffered a mental health issue (whether formally diagnosed or not) within the past year. This marks a rise of 13 percentage points when compared to the 2017 result (26%).

Elsewhere in the report, one fifth of respondents (20%) reported “regularly feeling unable to cope as a result of stress”, up from 16% last year. Over one quarter of LPC students (27%) surveyed said they had suffered “severe” or “extreme” levels of stress.

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The sources of stress cited in the report include “high workload” (67%), “client demands/expectations” (58%), “lack of support” (45%), “ineffective management” (43%) and “lack of control” (36%). Other contributors referenced by respondents included “billable hours targets” (27%) and “lack of resources” (26%).

With the majority of those questioned stating their firm could do more to support their mental health at work (80%), the report showed junior lawyers were embracing everything from exercise to alcohol to alleviate the pressures of work.

Law Society council member Kayleigh Leonie said:

“There is real value in investing time and resource to improve employees’ mental wellbeing and mental health. The legal profession is at risk of losing some of its best talent if employers do not begin to embrace their employees’ wellbeing as a key asset for their business.”

The findings follow a swathe of cases to appear before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) with mental health and stress at their heart.

Peter Naylor, a corporate associate who sent several misleading emails to a client to “buy [himself] some time”, claimed he had been left “physically and emotionally drained” by his heavy workload. Naylor avoided a strike off after the tribunal noted he “had suffered from mental health issues”.

Meanwhile, junior solicitor Sovani James found herself in hot water after she forged documents in a clinical negligence case. The SDT chose not to strike James off the roll after it heard that the “toxic” firm she had been working for had adopted a “sudden focus on financial return on employees” and an “aggressive implementation” of billing targets.

You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888.

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52 Comments

Anonymous

If you cant’s stand the heat…

Anonymous

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

Anonymous

Unless you clowns are trolling, this comment tells you all you need to know about the legal profession. A cesspool of amoral, power & status hungry assholes.

Anonymous

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

LC staff

That’s nothing, 100% of us are totally insane now!!

BPP Shareholder

££££££££££££

Miserable Trainee (Currently Hiding in the Bathroom)

Half of the juniors I know have an exit plan.

Family type

Good! Maybe some TC will be freed up for people who can do a days work without crying like little babies

Psychologically Incapable

I’ll make sure I refer to you next time I need someone to quantify my stress. Oh merciful gatekeeper of stress.

Family type

Doubt the percentage experiencing it has doubled. It’s just becoming OK to say that you have experienced it.

If you can’t stand the heat….. throw water all over the work computer? Or were you serious?

Anonymous

‘Extreme’ levels of stress? They are not in a theater of war facing life or death.

Family type

So you don’t think that people outside the theatre of war can face extreme stress?

Anonymous

OP was obviously exaggerating and you’re a moron for taking the bait.

The Brown Knight

Poor little trainees..

How difficult can it be. Pupillage is really hard. What do trainees actually do – sit at a desk and get spoon fed.

And, if they need help, just ask one of the many people in the pyramid of assistants, senior assistants, partners, senior partners..

Imagine if life was that easy at the junior bar!

The only thing that doubled is the percentage of trainees winging. They should:

“shut up and go away”

Family type

I agree!

Anonymous

As someone going to the Bar I find the Brown Kinghts comments beyond pig headed.

There are a myriad of ways trainees can face stress (i) being made to engraceate themselves to their seniors to get decent work and get taken on – partners will often pit trainees against each other unnecessarily (ii) back stabbing amongst the trainees (iii) being dumped with work at the very last minute with little to no supervision which directly conflicts with other deadlines (iv) seat allocations and retention rates (v) psycho supervisors.

Yes a pupil barrister may have to deal with all of the above and more but that doesn’t make (I) -(v) any less stressful.

Trainee at MCF

Thats not fair.

Its really tough at a MC firm. I have to be in the office each day at 8am and dont leave until 10pm.

We dont get paid as much as people think and deserve what we get.

At least we are doing society a service and making money for people unlike criminal lawyers.

There should be more counseling services available. In my firm the doctor leaves by 7pm and if you want counseling you have to claim on the health insurance which is a real hassle and not everyone can be bothered.

Perhaps if they put the salaries up for city lawyers things might improve but for now its really getting people down. Ive not been able to get a second mortgage yet due to house prices in London whereas others in the past had it better.

Medical type

Doctors don’t make money for people either. Do they not do society a service?

Trainee at MCF

Obviously doctors make people money by keeping them healthy so they can do deals and make money.

Criminal lawyers try to get criminal out of prison so they can steal everyones money and that doesnt help anyone. Now they even complain they dont get paid enough “legal aid”. Unbelievable!

Anonymous

Surprised you even got a TC with such a childish, black-and-white, narrow view of the world.

Anonymous

obviously a troll due to 8am references (people don’t start before 9.30), ‘second mortgage’, moronic comments about criminal law..

Not hooked

Dear me, it was a spoof ffs. Subtle enough to hook you idiots but hook it did.

Ywn

Oh boohoo! You really expect our sympathy?

Trumpenkrieg

Would you like some SNOW with your FLAKE?

Trainee at MCF

What do you mean??

Anonymous

Disgusting comment, if you can’t act accordingly on a site like this and especially on mental health you have no right being on here.

Oppidan

Drip

Trumpenkrieg

call the waaaaaaaahmbulance

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Please just bugger off you fascist loser.

Trumpenkrieg

Newsflash: Nobody cares about your queer little moral crusade.

Corbyn. Sympathiser

You have to wonder why Trumpy is so obsessed with homosexuality. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

Trumpenkrieg

Wow!!! The world of science is quaking at the pitiless, unrelenting scientific rigour of this University of Western Carolina study, which will no doubt replicate across all human societies for the rest for recorded time anywhere anyone cares to attempt to replicate it.

Trumpenkriegfinder General

Per Corbyn Sympathiser: ” Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.”

Sensible

I assume MCF post is a wind-up.

8am to 10pm is child’s play. Most trainees work past midnight.

If it isn’t I am confused as to why this personage believes it has any right to buy a property or get a mortgage until the universe makes it available.

Get your head down and work!!

Anonymous

It’s still 14 hours in the office everyday, not including the time it takes to commute to and from the office.

Add a couple weekends spent working each month, and you’re in burnout territory.

Sensible

14 hours is nothing.

I know someone who works for 23 hours everyday and after work he walks home on his hands. And he never complains.

He works for the single biggest law firm on the entire planet. He can do more templates and proof read more terms and conditions than any other Oxbridge Grad.

So dont give me 14 hours. You need to be ashamed you even came here today with that sorry as story. Now get out of her you scamp!

Sensible

My first imitator. Flattering. Scary thing is I agree with everything you said

City Banking & Finance Associate

Sure it’s stressful. Sure the hours suck. Sure you’re often asked to do something that requires 3 hours work in 1 hour instead.

But that’s what you sign up for. If the job’s not for you or you cannot handle the workload or the level of stress associated with it then nobody is preventing you from leaving.

If you’ve managed to secure a role as a trainee solicitor (which is extremely competitive) I’m sure you can find a role in another industry which is less stressful than being a solicitor. Don’t complain about the pay cut though.

B&F Senior Associate

It’s made harder than it needs to be though. Lack of support, bullying, lack of downtime – all of this comes down to poor management and has more of an effect long term than simple hours in the office.

Anonymous

I doubt decisions are made to purposely increase stress. The stress is a by product of moves made to survive in an industry where the service has become a commodity. The nuanced differences between firms don’t matter to 99% of clients and so they won’t pay for them. Partners (like all people) don’t want to take pay cuts, so they cut costs until there is a material impact on the ability to deliver the service. Unfortunately, that point is well beyond the one where stress rises because humans need money and so adapt

Anonymous

Poor management, not malevolent management.

Anonymous

I have BPD (border personality disorder) , I have never let it get in the way of studying for law, it has been tough and there has been days were I don’t know who I am deep down. But I know having a career in law is all I’ve wanted, before law I was a soldier and learned discipline and how to calmyself in heated situations and not to take everything personally, “water of a ducks back” so to speak, never shy away from a mental illness as it will only get worse. Just because we are meant to be solid and resolute within law, we are human, and that’s a valid enough answer to say, I can’t cope.

Anonymous

People claiming about hours clearly didn’t do their research when signing up for this…

Anonymous

Complaining

Anonymous

Brown knight full of shite

Anonymous

Work 9-5 in a high street firm and take the pay cut that comes with it….

A million love songs later ;)

I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again, the academic high fliers who are used to everything handed to them on a plate don’t have the mental gumption for the long days the profession gives. They need to broaden the recruitment net

Anonymous

It is harder to find someone “smart enough” than it is to find someone who can handle the hours.

another magic circle trainee

as a trainee, some comments – at City firms, a TC is an entry level job paying 35-50k a year. average national salary is 26-27k a year. so it is EXTREMELY well-paid compared to normal standards. the pay rise at NQ level (to 65-90k) is also a big carrot. you cannot complain about pay unless you compare City law to banking.

agree that there is less than adequate support. just because the same pressures in city law are replicated in some other less well paid but arguably more socially useful professions (eg medicine) does not mean that things should not change, but is worth bearing in mind i think. people under stress might consider advocating work models in future where they take a pay cut to work fewer hours for instance. you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Anonymous

If you can’t handle it, find another job and somebody will gladly replace you.

Now stop whinging and get back to work cuckies.

Oppidan

There will always be enough cannon fodder for the able to make it through to partner level.

Once there the world is your oyster (card)

Put your feet up. Switch off your mobile. Ahhh the heady hights. What bliss. What bollocks…

But at least you can work 20 hours a day in the comfort of your own office or in your (overcrowded) first class carriage and reflect on the bodies left in your wake as your family enjoy your somewhat boring middle class Surrey home and pretend they are somehow “upper middle”

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