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City law firms aim to improve mental wellbeing amongst lawyers

lawyer stressed

October saw many professionals banding together for World Mental Health Day, sharing stories and supporting one another. One of the key issues that was raised on that day was how working practises can affect the mental health and wellbeing of workers.

In response to this, eight leading City law firms decided it was time for a change within the industry, vowing to combat the avoidable problems that law professionals are facing every day. Issues such as stress and overwhelming workloads.

The Mindful Business charter

The first of its kind, the Mindful Business charter was signed on World Mental Health Day and has seen lawyers and bankers come together to support mental wellbeing, with some big name firms amongst the signatories. The charter aims to support a culture of openness and communication about mental health and has set out clear objectives that firms must work to. These will regularly be assessed in review meetings.

This initiative has been backed by the Law Society, LawCare and the mental health charity, Mind. Leading firm, Pinset Mason was amongst those who helped develop the charter, with Senior Partner, Richard Foley commenting:

“Mental health issues impact people at all levels and in all sectors. Changing working practices have increased those pressures significantly. It is not good enough to just accept that as the price we have to pay. We have a responsibility to make changes.”

The CEO of LawCare, Elizabeth Rimmer, also commented on the charter, saying:

 “We are really pleased to see high profile firms coming together to develop this charter. Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are extremely prevalent in the law industry and are exacerbated by working long hours, constantly feeling under pressure and never having the opportunity to switch off. It’s fantastic that the legal community is coming together to look at practical ways we can improve the working life of lawyers.”

Mental health problems are on the rise

Mental health has been a hot topic of late, and the new initiative follows a survey from the Junior Lawyers Division, which found that 39% of trainees had experienced mental health problems, an increase of 19% on last year. What’s more, statistics revealed that the number of rookie solicitors facing these issues had more than doubled during this period.

These concerning findings appear to be backed up by the increase in stress-related cases appearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). The recent case of a corporate associate who sent misleading emails to a client to buy himself time, due to being physically and emotionally drained, is just one case.

These incidents are prime examples of how the stress of heavy workloads can have a negative impact on law professional’s mental health and affect their ability to do their job. Initiatives like the new charter are positive steps forward for supporting the wellbeing of professionals in the industry.

 

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