The number of lawyers who contacted legal charity LawCare for emotional support rose by almost 10% last year, with cases of reported bullying increasing by over 70%.

According to figures released today, 677 legal professionals contacted LawCare for help in 2019 – up 8% compared with the year before. The most common problems cited were stress (26%) and depression (12%), while the number of lawyers complaining of bullying rose to 80, up from 47 in 2018. Bullying now accounts for 12% of calls, and the majority of people said they were being bullied by a manager or superior.

Almost 70% of those who called the helpline were women and 53% of all callers were trainees or pupils, or had been qualified less than five years. A further 5% were law students.

Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said: ‘We spent 304 hours providing support on the phone last year, answering a call every 2½ hours. Last year also saw the launch of our new webchat service enabling us to provide support to more people. The biggest trend we’ve noticed is the number of people contacting us about bullying and harassment which is now one of the top three issues people contact us about, possibly because of a lot more attention on this issue in the media over the past couple of years.’

Last year a report by the International Bar Association found that half of women and a third of men in the legal profession have faced bullying, with UK respondents reporting higher rates of sexual harassment and bullying than many other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy.