Spotlight on lawyer wellbeing
Nick Carroll, Head of Conveyancing07 October 2019
In the last 20 years there’s been a lot for us all to think about. There was talk of a millennium bug that would have huge consequences the world over, more war conflicts than you can shake a stick at and a global financial crisis.
We live in uncertain times as we continue to wrestle with political unrest across the world. Closer to home we have Brexit looming large and further potential economic related issues with the recent collapse of a much-loved British
Everyone in the profession knows, more is expected of lawyers today than ever before. Instability, be it locally, nationally or the world over can have both a positive and detrimental effect on the legal sector. But whether there’s a clear slowdown or significant increase in instructions, lawyers are under pressure to meet bigger targets, bill more chargeable hours and bring in new work through business development. And if it couldn’t be challenging enough, there’s the imminent arrival of the new SRA standards and regulations coming in November 2019. These will place Solicitors’ ethics and moral compasses under even greater scrutiny. Taking all this into account, we need to take time to think about lawyer wellbeing. travel company. It’s enough to feel stressed about even before considering our personal circumstances, let alone those at work.
Being a lawyer can be very stressful, I don’t need to preach that to anyone. The most obvious scenario where stress is in abundance, is with lawyers at big city Corporate firms. The systemic long hours, the need to achieve coupled with the lack of recognition, and the sense of having to go it ‘alone’ all take their toll. But there are so many other pains for legal professionals which aren’t so readily publicised or talked about. These are occurring across firms of all sizes. From juggling family life with work to adjusting to new technology that’s been rolled out across the firm; we all have our stressors and different points at which we reach internal crisis. We are all after all, only human!
In the legal sector, work-related stress is a very big deal. Low energy and morale, anxiety and depression are all symptoms. It can lead to much bigger mental health issues which can impact on work performance, and worst-case scenario, a decision to leave a career behind entirely.
What can firms do to support lawyers?
It's up to employers to provide a mentally healthy workplace. While more is being spoken about mental health, there’s still a stigma around it, especially in the work environment. Now more than ever there is a strong case for law firms to promote good physical and mental health for all staff. And it needs to go beyond the more ‘frivolous’ approach. A duvet day here or there, or a mindfulness session at lunchtime aren’t going to tackle any underlying issues which are causing stress, exhaustion and chronic fatigue.
There are many ways that firms can embed wellbeing into their culture. This can start with health cash plans, private healthcare, health and lifestyle screening, even health club memberships. Such benefits offer pathways to professionals who can help if staff either can’t discuss their wellbeing at work or who recognise they need help to avoid complete burnout. And where staff do have a wellbeing issue, firms need to be readily willing and able to support individuals through their therapy.
The bigger picture
For law firms there’s a lot to lose if staff are feeling continual pressure and cannot work. Stress-related absence isn’t easy to manage, so it’s vital employers look to put the necessary tools in place. By embracing wider acknowledgement of staff mental health and wellbeing, a real difference can be made. Yes, there’s been a significant shift in recent years with firms offering flexible working and the chance for a better work life balance, but it’s not enough. Structured wellness programmes, be they educational or practical, are needed to teach staff about mental health-related issues. In high stress environments like the legal profession, we need to understand how our brains work in line with our bodies and that we may all be susceptible to a bout of injured mental health, whether at work or at home. In today’s working world, wellbeing really needs to be about equipping people with the tools to be able to work healthily. If we can implement that, we can look to a more positive, sustainable future.
Nick heads up our National Conveyancing division, an area of law that is going through a turbulent time with the advent of Brexit and uncertainty in the property market. Passionate about bringing the best out in people and helping to make a difference, Nick is adept at helping candidates find the best opportunities in conveyancing, at firms which work for them. If you’re keen to progress your career in conveyancing, send a copy of your CV to him at, email@example.com