More than 90% of junior lawyers say they feel stressed and under pressure at work, with more than a quarter describing stress levels as ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’.
In a survey by the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division, more than half of respondents also said they regularly or occasionally feel unable to cope at work because of pressure.
The findings are contained in the JLD’s resilience and wellbeing survey report, published during the division’s annual conference last Saturday.
More than a third of respondents said they had made a mistake that would not have happened had they not been overworked, while more than half (53%) said they nearly made a crucial error.
More than 200 young lawyers responded to the survey. Of those, 32% were trainee solicitors, 54% solicitors with up to five years’ PQE, and 14% LPC students.
According to the JLD, the percentage of junior lawyers describing their stress levels as severe or extreme is higher than the profession as a whole.
However, most respondents were not aware of support available to them. Some 39% of respondents said their employer did not provide support, while 35% said they did not know if help was available.
Mental wellbeing and coping with stress was a major theme of the conference. Chetna Bhatt, co-founder of legal wellbeing organisation Being Lawyers, told delegates that learning to understand and navigate their own state of mind was crucial when trying to beat stress.
‘Just because we have negative thoughts in our mind does not mean they are true,’ she said.
‘Thoughts, including negative ones, will always come and go, but it will only become an issue if we hang on to them.’
Ann Charlton, coordinator for England and Wales at LawCare, gave a sobering account of some of the problems highlighted by callers to the charity’s anonymous support line.
Calls to the organisation are increasing - particularly from men - with bullying and depression high on the list of problems.
‘The pressure is really out there,’ said Charlton, adding that it is important to ‘acknowledge it and recognise it’.
‘LawCare was set up by the profession for the profession. Its independence is crucial. We will not tell anyone, including the police or the SRA, anything about any of the calls we recieve,’ she added.
* LawCare’s free, independent and confidential Helpline provides a space to talk about anything that may be worrying you. Call on 0800 279 6888