Junior lawyers have demanded answers on what firms are doing to improve employee wellbeing in an attempt to tackle talent drain caused by stress at work.
The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has today begun collecting practitioners’ experiences for its third resilience and wellbeing report.
This year’s survey asks respondents for the first time to reveal what specific measures their employer has in place to tackle stress and what they could be doing better. After last year’s survey, it was revealed that a majority of respondents (83%) thought their employer could be doing more to provide help and guidance.
Kayleigh Leonie, Law Society council member for junior lawyers, said: ’Junior lawyers are under pressure to prove themselves to their employers, either to be awarded a much sought-after training position, or to be offered a newly-qualified role at the end of it. It is a concern of the JLD that many junior lawyers feel unable to raise issues with their employers when they are struggling to cope with the pressures of their role.’
She noted that last year a number of Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal cases were appealed to the High Court in circumstances where junior lawyers were under high levels of pressure at work. ’There is a real risk that the legal profession will lose vital talent due to the culture of organisations failing to properly support their junior lawyers,’ Leonie said.
In November, the High Court ruled that Sovani James, a former junior lawyer who claimed to be scared to come clean to her bosses about her misconduct, should be struck off despite the SDT ruling against such a sanction.
The JLD's 2019 survey also asks questions regarding age, ethnicity, sexual orientation. It is expected that these additional questions will enable the JLD to draw down further into the data to establish any trends.
The first resillence and wellbeing survey, conducted in 2017, attracted 200 responses. For the second survey the figure climbed to nearly 1,000. Leonie said the JLD was hoping to continue to increase levels of engagement and encouraged the link to be circulated among colleagues and peers.
She added: ‘The JLD’s hope is that the results of the survey will show that employers are taking action and working to incorporate some of the recommendations in the best practice guidance to their firms. This would ensure that junior lawyers are not left feeling unsupported in the early years of their career and foster a healthy working environment in which junior lawyers can develop and thrive.’
The survey is open to any junior lawyer, which the JLD defines as anyone from a student to five years PQE.