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Over half of trainee solicitors ‘unable to cope with stress’ during lockdown

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Report also finds most firms have struggled to train rookies remotely

Trainees and junior lawyers have particularly struggled with their mental health during lockdown, new research has found.

The report, produced by Luminance, a machine learning-backed due diligence tool, found that over half of rookies (56%) were “unable to cope because of stress” in the last few months. By comparison, 10% of lawyers aged 55-64 had experienced similar problems with stress.

Almost half of all respondents (42%) said that they had felt unable to cope because of stress, while a further 12% reported they “could not cope on a regular basis”.

The research — published today and based on data from a survey of over 100 legal professionals at top-30 UK law firms — also found that training and managing junior lawyers were areas most firms had struggled to do remotely.

One unnamed lawyer explained: “Working from home is not too difficult at the senior end as lawyers act independently, but junior associates and trainees have struggled a bit more as they require support and supervision from the more senior lawyers, this can be very difficult to do remotely.”

The report follows research published last month which found that the majority of City law firms believe that training contracts from next year will be a mix of online and on-the-job learning.

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Junior lawyers previously shared their experiences of lockdown as part of a feature for Legal Cheek published in April.

One magic circle rookie explained how it was almost impossible to maintain any work/life balance at all while working from home. “Trainees are waking up early in the morning to log-on to computers to be met with demand for work that does not stop until late into the night,” they told us.

But not everyone is hating the ‘new normal’, with another insider telling us: “At risk of coming across as smug, I haven’t experienced a significant change in my day-to-day working life as it was common for me to work an entire week or two from home before the current situation.”

Feeling stressed? You can contact LawCare by calling 0800 279 6888 in the UK.

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34 Comments

Anonymous

Poor snowflakes!

(12)(123)

anon

This is such an outdated and insensitive viewpoint.

For young people, everything in life is less certain – relationships, living situation, money, careers – and therefore they have been hardest hit by the crisis. Students work incredibly hard and have to jump through an insane amount of hoops to get to a career in law.

Feel sorry for people at the junior end of any business at this time.

(93)(10)

A

Maybe they could express their concerns through a little dance on Tik Tok.

(5)(23)

Quid Pro Quo

I lol’d out loud to this, admittedly.

(4)(5)

Snowflake

We were forged in the fire of the Financial Crisis. Crossed eduction pathways carrying triple the university fees. Trump and the decline of the free world – we ate it for breakfast. Brexit – an aperitif. Passing Barnard Castle, we endured hapless tory mis-management. During the Pandemic, we were exiled to our sweaty rented bedsits, all to protect the innocent and weakest members of our society (propertied men aged over 60 and above). I am SNOWFLAKE!

(33)(2)

Boomer

STFU you pretentious nob

(2)(11)

Looking down on the young

To be honest thats pretty lame when compared to those older than 40.

Growing up with strikes and electricity black outs. High streets being bombed by the IRA. Shadow of nuclear war ….. but yeah sure – you young un’s live in uncertain times lol.

(2)(9)

Anonymous

4 TV channels and no porn access.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

But no moaning snowflakes. These spoiled entitled brats have no idea.

Jane

Each generation has its challenges. You are not really protecting men over 60 but the fat and the sick, the disabled and BAME people and people over 70, not that I agree with any CV19 mandatory laws and would rather I and my children increase our risk of death. I graduated the year we had the worst unemployment for 50 years, most unemployed even than now when only 15% of people could go to university and there were no student loans. It was not necessarily easier then. My own children ahve had it easier.

(0)(3)

Snowflake

Jane, you are freaking me out a little with your comments, please be sensitive to the fact that I am a snowflake.

(0)(1)

Anon

Wish I could be back being a trainee. The worst is yet to come for them.

(12)(36)

Anon

I think it’s easier on associates actually. Having seen a lot of trainees not qualify in the last round despite not doing anything “wrong”, I would not want to be qualifying anytime in the next year. That stress outweighs any extra work we have.

We have to actually be made redundant or screw up.

(43)(2)

Nobody

As an NQ (only qualified in September), I can confirm qualification was a complete nightmare. A number of us (myself included) did not get a job on qualification, and even though we know circumstances are unusual, the news was still very difficult to process. I personally had to take time off sick for mental health, and I consider myself to be pretty resilient. It didn’t help that our firm handled the process badly, possibly because most of the HR staff were still in school during the 2007 crisis, so were inexperienced.

(21)(0)

Phil

Rubbish, the pressure of qualifying and not knowing how anything works far outweighs that of being an associate on a nice salary.

(51)(1)

Derek (aspiring trainee)

Would the workload have been any less if working in the office?

(3)(3)

Janice

Try being 5PQE with quite a lot of responsibility and with a 1 year old to look after.

(22)(30)

Bombay Bad Boy

Look on the bright side. In 6 months your child will have all the skills necessary to act as an additional trainee on your matters.

(75)(2)

DINK

It was your choice to have a child, not a necessity, so don’t don’t use it as a reason to expect sympathy.

You don’t have a monopoly on stress, and just because you feel like you have it worse, it certainly does not mean you actually do.

(15)(16)

Jane

I agree. My hardest time was 3 under 4 and we both worked full time (and worked until I went into labour and then 2 weeks annual leave for the babies in the 1980s)… if you are woken every 3 hours to breastfeed for 12 months and then work – that is very hard.

Anyway those who cannot now cope will mean less competition for my children I suppose so it may all be fine in the end.

(3)(3)

Reality

“Trainees are waking up early in the morning to log-on to computers to be met with demand for work that does not stop until late into the night”

Tough shit

(10)(39)

NQ

I woke up at 7 everyday and didn’t get to bed until 2am. This went on for almost 2 months straight. Around 20 files were transferred to me which were not mine and had to progressed to the middle stages of litigation. I had to get up to grips with every single one in the space of about 3 weeks, all while working from home with no additional support and with minimal supervision from my sh*tty supervisor. It ruined my mental health and caused me to make ridiculous mistakes I would never have made before, and led to some embarrassing situations. I’ve since moved firm upon qualification and it’s a lot better. You obviously would not understand. Probably some snobby pretentious partner that clocks 3 hours of chargable a day.

(42)(2)

Rordon Gamsey

If you can’t handle the heat…

(4)(19)

NQ

As an NQ (6 month PQE lol), I am much happier and less stressed. When I was a trainee I received less support, could not delegate simple admin tasks that ate into my training/legal work time, and I was treated differently overall. Part of that may have been because the firm I trained at was rotten, and my current employer is not, but my experience is shared with other NQ’s.

(43)(0)

Dan

Where did you train at and where are you at now? Or just give us the where you trained at if you’re worried that would out you.

(5)(0)

I'm usually a cynic

I’m usually a cynic, particularly about so-called mental health (we’ve abolished unhappiness, and the normal vicissitudes of human existence, and replaced them with self-diagnosed mental illness), but I sympathise here.

Being a trainee was rubbish even before The End Times, because of the uncertainty over whether you’ll be taken on, secure an NQ role elsewhere, or if you’d suddenly end up unemployed having wasted 6 years of your life.

Since March, people can’t get proper training, they aren’t getting exposure to the partners who will select them on qualification, and it’s clear that the UK is on the precipice of the worst recession in decades, with concomitant job losses, including in law firm. Hopefully law firms will at least try to soften the by offering people they can’t retain permanently 1-year fixed term contracts, so they have more of a fighting chance to be employed at the end of that year, with some substantive experience under their belt.

Good luck, everyone.

(15)(2)

Jane

Although I wasn’t kept on in the 1980s despite being the main wage earner with a baby to keep…. plus ca change.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Why is being the main wage earner or your having a child remotely relevant?

(4)(0)

Worried

The London office of my firm is much smaller than the rest of the usual suspects in here (<100). Because it’s a smaller office, fit and firm culture is a massive thing. Not being in the office has meant my fellow trainees and I aren’t with associates and partners showing them that we are tolerable to work around on those longer days. We are all quite worried about NQ time… The workload is there it’s just none of us have a real presence anymore.

(6)(1)

Jane

Yes, I agree it is not good. I would force everyone into work come what may as indeed the law allows. I do not support any of the mandatory cv19 laws and none of them right from March have ever stopped law firms opening their offices anyway.

(0)(8)

Anonymous

Ah, so Jane is a basic libertarian lunatic who is happy to kill off the old and the ill.

(1)(0)

The First Guy

I can empathise with them. Working from home means doing more work than usual and home/work life becomes blurred you’ll be doing an extra hour of work, as commute times are no lounger there. It is a lot on your plate, but I’m hopeful the trainees receive the right support to get through this. Law can be cut throat, this situation would also highlight mental health, and finally stop the SRA from acting with impunity against trainees and juniors!

(2)(0)

Former trainee (NQ)

Get this… at my previous firm I continued to work my contractual hours during lockdown and suddenly got crap from my supervisor for being ”unavailable”/”hard to get hold of”, during OUT OF HOURS, whilst everybody else continued to work late into the night.

Phenomenal.

(5)(0)

Owdy Pardna

I know which half are first in line for the chop.

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.

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