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If your job consisted of long hours, not being able to switch off, constant increasing pressure, difficult clients, tight deadlines and doing more for less, it’s likely you would be in the market for a new role. However, for those in the legal profession these stressful working practices are considered ‘just part of the job’, and are usually rewarded. With an attitude of ‘resilience above all’, stress in the legal workplace is often mistook for normality. But how much stress is too much? And how can those in the legal profession balance wellbeing and the tough characteristics and working practices of being a lawyer?
The Bellwether report: Stress in the Legal Profession—Problematic or Inevitable?, found 76% of solicitors felt stress/mental wellbeing is a major issue in the profession, and it’s not just a physical issue. DeLoitte recently found that poor mental health costs employers on estimate £42-45bn every year. So, what needs to be done to tackle this ever-growing issue?
Dr Libby Artingstall, Forensic psychiatrist at Team Mental Health noted that there have been positive changes towards attitudes on wellbeing. For example, there has been an increase in mental health awareness, changing attitudes (particularly for millennials) to work life balance/flexible working, and technological advances. However, these changes are not enough.
At the latest Legal Cheek Legal Education Conference in Manchester, it was suggested that the profession need to look further down the workforce chain and put more of a focus on the mental wellbeing of students. The conference highlighted that young people are found to be the most vulnerable demographic as they are more susceptible to burnout, and less likely to talk to someone about these issues.
It was stressed by many of the speakers that there needs to be a further focus on educating and informing the younger generation about mental health, self-care and wellbeing. In doing so, it allows the next generation of lawyers to empower themselves to make positive changes, which will ultimately filter through to the legal profession.
Education on wellbeing doesn’t have to just be at the lower end of the legal chain. By equipping managers and businesses to promote and support employees to recognize early warning signs of stress a positive change can also be made in the workplace.
LexisNexis has signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, which is a commitment to changing the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace. As part of the pledge the Employer Action Plan helps your organization put in place best-practice interventions and policy to help your staff work in ways that promote a positive mental wellbeing.
Making a change in your firm does not have to be difficult. As part of Time to Talk day, LexisNexis has produce these top five tips to help get the conversation on mental health flowing in your workplace.
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Hannah is one of the Future of Law blog’s digital and technical editors. She graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in History and Politics and previously freelanced for News UK, before working as a senior news editor for LexisNexis.
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