27 April 2018

It's Friday, go speak to a junior! Firms can do more on mental health

Survey reveals junior lawyers are reporting increased stress and firms can do more about mental health.

Mental health issues among trainees have more than doubled in the past year, according to a new Law Society survey, as junior lawyers continue to report severe levels of stress. In its 2018 resilience and wellbeing survey, the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) found that 39 per cent of trainees reported suffering from mental health problems, up from 19 per cent last year. Among the division’s members as a whole, 38 per cent of respondents said they had experienced mental health problems in the past year, up from 26 per cent the previous year.

Firms can do more
This year’s survey was completed by 959 lawyers, compared with 214 last year, the first year of the exercise. The division’s members include solicitors with up to five years’ PQE, trainees and students. More than a quarter of respondents worked at a firm based in the City of London. The survey also revealed that 90 per cent of respondents had experienced stress in their role and that 26 per cent of those experienced severe/extreme levels of stress, a figure unchanged from last year. The majority of respondents (83 per cent) thought their employer could do more to provide help, guidance and support in relation stress at work while 39 per cent did not know if their employer provided any help, guidance or support to employees.

Common causes
High workload and client demands and expectations were the most commonly selected causes of stress. In last year’s survey, stress was most commonly linked to ‘nearly making a mistake that would not have happened otherwise’, but this year respondents said stress was more likely lead to problems with family life and relationships. The report will be discussed during the JLD’s annual conference tomorrow, where Baroness Hale, president of the Supreme Court, is delivering the Keynote address.