I doubt any young lawyer embarks on a career in law believing it is going to be a stress free vocation, I know I didn’t. That being said the Junior Lawyer Division’s recent Wellbeing survey is a massive worry for the profession as a whole and failure to act now could lead to a failure to attract the next generation and even a loss of talented lawyers already embarking upon their legal careers.
The survey shows us that 93.5% of respondents had experienced stress in their role in the last month. Whilst that is hardly a ringing endorsement of the profession nor a statistic likely to find its way into any academia prospectus or training contract brochure, most people would accept that a bit of stress comes with the territory. What is truly shocking however is that:
- 24.8% of those respondents had experienced severe/extreme levels of stress;
- 48% of respondents stated that they had experienced mental ill-health; and most concerning of all
- 1 in 15 junior lawyers (6.4%) experienced suicidal thoughts, in the month leading up to taking the survey.
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That cannot be allowed to continue and we should all be grateful to the JLD for bringing this to the attention of the wider profession. Urgent action is needed in order to take greater care of our younger lawyers and the JLD has urged firms to support its employees and opines that by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to succeed firms can reduce stress absences, reduce the risk of mistakes, increase engagement, collaboration, productivity and overall job satisfaction and create organisations which attract and retain the best talent.
According to the survey high workload (64%) was the most commonly selected causes of stress. At Setfords, we see all too regularly the effect prolonged stress and overwork has on people, whether that be through clients instructing us to pursue stress at work claims or by lawyers wishing to join us as Consultants, often citing stress and the desire to obtain a healthier work/life balance as the reasons why they are attracted to the Setfords’ model. Who wouldn’t want to be healthier, happier and better paid?
We think the wants and career ambition of younger lawyers is changing. Many of the young lawyers we speak to no longer see the path to equity partnership as something they particularly strive for, nor are they willing to put up with the impossibly long hours often expected as a right of passage. More and more lawyers are attracted to the idea of being their own boss, content to shape their own career. I wonder how the stress levels of Setfords consultants would compare to the JLD survey; rather well I suspect.
David is an occupational stress and psychiatric injury specialist.
David is one of the few specialists in the country whose practice is solely made up of work related stress claims. His expertise covers:
- Stress at work claims
- Bullying & harassment claims
- Violence at work claims
- Sexual harassment