Research coincides with national Time to Talk day
Female solicitors have “significantly poorer” wellbeing compared to their male colleagues, according to findings released today to coincide with national Time to Talk Day, an initiative to encourage open conversations about mental health.
The findings, compiled by ex-City solicitor turned academic Lucinda Soon, are based on the survey responses of 340 trainee and qualified solicitors practising in England and Wales, and using what is known as the ‘Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale’ — a system that enables the scoring of mental wellbeing.
The research found that while female solicitors posted a lower average wellbeing score (43.7) compared to their male counterparts (46.2), both demonstrated lower wellbeing scores than the national averages for females and males, at 49.6 and 50.1, respectively.
Looking at the profession as a whole, solicitors posted an average wellbeing score of 44.3, over five points lower than the national adult average of 49.9.
The research also found that wellbeing is lowest among solicitors between five and 15 years post-qualification experience (PQE), while trainees and juniors of up to 5 years PQE averaged slightly higher scores than their mid-level colleagues. Senior-level solicitors with over 15 years’ PQE demonstrated the highest levels of wellbeing.
The research found lawyer wellbeing was mostly impacted by whether solicitors felt autonomous at work, effective in their jobs, and socially supported and connected with people at work.
But how do solicitors stack up against other professions? Citing previous studies on other occupations, the research found solicitors have an average wellbeing score lower than UK veterinary surgeons (48.9), GPs in Northern Ireland (50.2) and teachers in England (47.2).
Soon, a PhD researcher at Birbeck University’s department of organisational psychology, said:
“This is the first study to benchmark the wellbeing of solicitors in England and Wales against existing data. By using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, we were able to capture the wellbeing scores of those surveyed and compare them against population data published by the NHS and previous research on other UK occupational groups.”
Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare, a mental health charity that runs a helpline offering support to lawyers, added: “This research confirms that lawyers experience poorer wellbeing than others. The time is now to address the culture and working practices in law that can lead to poor wellbeing, and build the social capital in the legal community to create positive change.”
Detailed findings from the study will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal in due course.
There will be a session focusing on mental health and wellbeing at LegalEdCon London on Thursday 14 May 2020, held at Kings Place, Kings Cross, London. Find out more information here.
Feeling stressed? You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK.