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For many small firms, the last year has been extremely challenging. Whilst some firms have been forced to close, others have faced large increases in volume of new work. This, in turn, has brought new stressors and put the work-life balance under increased pressure with 45% of lawyers reporting higher stress levels now than they were pre COVID-19.*
To promote mental health awareness week, LexisNexis was proud to sponsor the Law Society’s event on mental health journeys and coping strategies for small firms. Vice President of the Law Society Lubna Shuja was joined by Elizabeth Rimmer-CEO of Lawcare, Sally Azarmi- Solitor/Director at Azarmi & Company Ltd and Evelyn Ofori-Koree Esq- Chair of the Ethnic Minority Lawyer Division. The panellists shared their personal experiences with mental health and gave their tips on how to manage this important taboo.
The legal profession is a rewarding and vital career, relied upon by people and businesses in need around the world. There is often, however, an unhealthy work culture within the profession. Lawyers are often expected to work long hours, meet unreasonable billable hour targets and to be available day or night. To have healthy justice, we must have healthy lawyers. Something needs to change.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has been a contributor to the decline in mental health of lawyers with 76% citing that they feel increasingly isolated as the crisis has deepened.* Charity ‘LawCare’ who support the UK legal community, report that their calls on anxiety have more than doubled compared to last year with some stating that they no longer work from home they are living from work. This combined with social isolation, challenges surrounding childcare/home-schooling and no supervision/progression for junior lawyers all contributed to the downward spiral.
However, there are opportunities to make positive changes to the way lawyers operate from the pandemic, which will help them to focus on their mental wellbeing going forward. Positive changes highlighted by the panel include getting out of the 4 walls of the office environment to see the outside world, spending more time with loved ones and putting yourself first.
All the panellists stressed the importance of being able to open-up and share how you are feeling. Working virtually means that you lose the presence of body language, so being verbal, open and honest with those around you will dramatically improve your stress and anxiety.
If you or anyone you know may be suffering, there is a wealth of support and advice including a helpline at lawcare.org.uk.
To view the full event for free click here.
*The Bellwether Report COVID-19- The next chapter
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Thea executes the campaign strategy for the small law and public sector segments for LexisNexis UK, producing content for thought leadership and marketing campaigns. She is a qualified marketer with a degree from St. Mary's University in Media Arts and has a demonstrated history working across legal and consumer products.
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