Lawcare launches ground-breaking research study ‘Life in the Law’

 In Practice Management

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Lawcare launches ground-breaking research into life in the lawLife in the law can be challenging. At LawCare, the legal mental health charity, we have been providing emotional support to legal professionals for over 20 years through our free, confidential support service. We have visited hundreds of legal workplaces and we have listened to thousands of people in the legal community talk about feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and burnt out. Lack of support or supervision, a difficult manager, an unreasonably heavy workload, challenging clients, and problems sleeping are all very common issues. In addition the type of person that often goes into the law often has high expectations of themselves, they can also find it hard to ask to for help.

Although there has been research done in other countries, notably America and Australia, we have little data from the British Isles on how the culture and practice of law affects wellbeing.  Are lawyers more at risk of poor mental health than other professions? And how will the issues created by a global pandemic; a  lack of routine and support structure, no separation between home and work,  too much time or not enough time alone, a lack of supervision; feed into this?

To find out more about how the culture and practice of law can affect wellbeing we have teamed up with leading academics in the field Dr Emma Jones (University of Sheffield), Professor Richard Collier (University of Newcastle), Caroline Strevens (Reader in Legal Education, University of Portsmouth) and Lucinda Soon (Solicitor and PhD researcher) along with Nick Bloy (Executive Coach and founder of Wellbeing Republic) and Kayleigh Leonie (LawCare trustee and solicitor) to develop our new ground-breaking research study ‘Life in the Law’.

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This is a cross-profession, cross-jurisdiction piece of research, launching ahead of World Mental Health Day on the 10th October, that seeks to understand the day to day realities of life in the law and examine the impact of work culture and working practices on the wellbeing of legal professionals. The study uses an online questionnaire to ask about an individual’s current workload and the requirements of their role (including any management responsibilities they may have); their working environment (for example, how much autonomy they have and how supported they feel); what wellbeing support is offered by their workplace (if applicable); and what self-care practices (such as a hobby or exercise) they use

It includes three academic research scales for burn-out, psychological safety and autonomy. All three are issues we believe to have a significant impact on the wellbeing of lawyers.

Anyone working in the legal industry, including support staff, can complete the online questionnaire across the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The aim is to include participants who represent a range of interests within the legal profession, including members of the judiciary, solicitors, barristers, patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys, Chartered Legal Executives, legal apprentices, paralegals, legal secretaries and others, both employed and the self-employed.

The questionnaire will remain open for completion until 31 December 2020 at lifeinthelaw.org.uk and will take around 20 minutes to complete. LawCare hopes to be in a position to share the results of its Life in the Law research study in May 2021 in time for Mental Health Awareness Week.

The results will form the basis of an academic paper and will be announced next year and the data will help LawCare to improve the support available to legal professionals and drive long lasting change in legal workplaces so that people working in the law can thrive.

We would like to encourage anyone working in the legal profession to complete the survey and share it with their peers and colleagues to support LawCare’s mission of sustaining a profession of mentally healthy people.

About LawCare

If you are finding things difficult and need to talk, LawCare can help. We provide emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their families. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at support@lawcare.org.uk  or access webchat and other resources at www.lawcare.org.uk. We also have a network of peer supporters, a free online course on emotional competence and professional resilience at fitforlaw.org.uk and offer training for legal workplaces and organisations on mental health and wellbeing.

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