‘The overall culture in law is damaging many junior lawyers’, JLD chair warns
Mental Health Awareness Week prompts renewed calls for change as wellbeing charity LawCare extends online support
The Law Society of England and Wales, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) and leading wellbeing charity LawCare have made renewed calls for a change in culture across the legal profession to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
The fresh appeal follows research published by LawCare that showed the number of lawyers reaching out to its helpline with issues relating to stress had increased by almost a quarter in 2021.
Other common problems cited were anxiety, depression, bullying and worries about career development, with almost two-thirds of all contacts coming from trainees, pupils or junior lawyers.
“Report after report has demonstrated that the overall culture in law is damaging to many junior lawyers, leading to mental health problems such as burnout, depression, anxiety and (in the worst cases) self-harm and suicidal thoughts”, Suzanna Eames, chair of the JLD, said.
The Farrer & Co solicitor noted “over the course of the pandemic that the culture of a firm has a very large impact on employees’ mental health, and that positive leadership can have a real impact and can ensure that the legal profession is both fulfilling and sustainable”.
“On the contrary”, Eames explained, “employers that have left junior lawyers without support or supervision have seen staff burnout and choose to leave the firm or legal profession in order to protect their health”.
She went on to stress that “it is vital that this conversation continues to develop, and does not lose traction now that firms settle into varying models of hybrid working”.
Joining the renewed calls for change, Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said:
“If we could encourage firms and workplaces to do one thing this Mental Health Awareness Week, it would be to work towards providing management training to all supervisors and managers, and free up some of their time so they can regularly catch up with their team members to check in on how they are doing.”
LawCare also announced today it had extended its online chat service from one to four days a week. The service — first introduced in the summer of 2019 — will now be available every week, Tuesday to Friday from 9am-5pm, and will be staffed by 10 new specially trained volunteers all of whom work in, or have worked in, the law as well as the LawCare staff team.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce added:
“Mental health and wellbeing are prominent themes in my presidential plan. During my term we have provided remote working guidance, launched our own mental health hub and published a range of careers resources. We must all take responsibility for our mental health and wellbeing and look to change our businesses so colleagues can have a rewarding career and a supportive workplace. The onus is on us all.”
Struggling with the stress of work? Contact LawCare via its helpline or live chat
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Home to roost
Well they want £100k plus NQ salaries, which has added 200-300 billable hours each year. Cake and eat it stuff.
Indeed. For US and even MC salaries, it’s not really reasonable to expect a solid work life balance. But it is reasonable to expect that partners aren’t nasty bellends – which at many US firms especially, they are.
Personally the times I worked for horrendous partners during my TC were the times my mental health actually suffered. I don’t care about working late when my team is nice, which is why I qualified where I did.
‘which at many US firms especially, they are’
I trained at an MC firm and have since worked at two US firms.
The partners at the US firms were far more pleasant and normal than the partners at the MC firm. In fact, the partners at the MC firm were, almost without exception, awful, insecure and spiteful.
This parroted notion that US firm culture is awful compared to the MC/SC is baffling when you’ve experienced both first hand. If there even is an overarching ‘US firm culture’ (which there’s not as there are so many in the city and they’re all different), I would still prefer it to ‘MC culture’.
Archibald Pomp O'City
“This parroted notion that US firm culture is awful compared to the MC/SC is baffling when you’ve experienced both first hand”
Your anecdote is worth mentioning but you are a sample of one. Your conclusion that “I would still prefer it…” is more along the right lines. You cannot profess to be baffled until you have worked across a representative sample of both types of firm, however large that might have to be.
US firm associate
There are psychos at MC firms and psychos at US firms. I’ve worked at both and I actually prefer my teammates at the US firm (far less stuffy and insecure). Others will have a different experience.
Please don’t peddle the MC Grad Rec myth that US firms are the fires of hell. If you’re in a transactional department, they’re very similar (except with more money at US firms).
I can only base my opinion on the amount of people who joined US firms from CC and then regretted it due to Partners and quality of work. We have taken several back (and this isn’t a case of didn’t cut it at US, they’re very strong lawyers who realised the grass wasn’t greener in those instances). You’re absolutely right though, they’ll be a mix of personalities in all and it’s not all roses anywhere.
Yep, same experience. The usual US firm fresher stans are out to play though I see.
I can count the bellends I’ve met at my firm on one hand. When I’m opposite a US firm on a deal, about 30% of them are both incompetent and rude, 30% just rude, and the rest are great. It’s usually a worse experience than being opposite another MC firm, with limited exceptions.
Loads of people have left to K&E / STB / Cleary / Skadden etc and come back or moved to another firm within two years because of how bad the environment is. Latham and MoFo seem to be the only ones where people who moved there are happy.
US firm associate
‘Quality of work’ – Jesus, you really drank all the kool-aid 🙈 whatever makes you happy
Unwashed High Street Solicitor
Couldn’t imagine working those hours and for a giant prat, much happier dealing with little high street law, easy peasy and not bad money for the hours I do
This is LITERALLY modern slavery!
Who forced these people into being lawyers?
If slavery was a voluntary contractual relationship that could be terminated on relatively short notice by either party. Otherwise you are talking gibberish.
You missed the sarcasm in the original post, signposted by the “Oh wait…”
Rule number 1- always read your papers!
You are correct. I had not noticed the “Oh wait”.
As penance, I will pay it forward by spending 15 minutes on the Daily Mail website correcting the grocer’s apostrophes of Brexit supporters. I am sure they will be appreciative of my efforts.
It’s not the hours that are the problem. It’s the managers.