The issue of stress among junior lawyers returns to the spotlight this week, with research showing that the proportion claiming to have recently experienced mental ill-health has risen sharply over the past year – and that 6.4% have experienced suicidal thoughts.

These are among the findings of the third Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) resilience and wellbeing survey, published at the weekend. Of more than 1,800 respondents, 48% said they had experienced mental ill-health in the last month, up from 38% last year (an increase of 26%). 

Some 93.5% of respondents said they experienced stress in their role. A quarter of those experienced ‘severe/extreme’ levels of stress. The most frequently mentioned consequences of work-related stress were disrupted sleep (66%) and a negative impact on mental health, including anxiety, emotional upset, fatigue, and negative and depressed thoughts (60%). Meanwhile, 6.4% of respondents (amounting to more than 100 junior lawyers) said they had experienced suicidal thoughts. 

Kayleigh leonie

Leonie: ‘More needs to be done’

Kayleigh Leonie, Law Society Council member for solicitors with 0-5 years’ PQE, said: ‘It is very concerning that one in 15 junior lawyers experienced suicidal thoughts. It is also disappointing to see that the number of junior lawyers experiencing mental ill-health has increased significantly from last year. Despite the positive efforts being made by some employers, it is clear that more considered action needs to be taken to support the wellbeing of junior lawyers in the profession.’

Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of specialist support charity LawCare, said: ‘Every junior lawyer should know where to get help, this year’s survey results sends a strong message that raising awareness about why mental health matters for junior lawyers must be a key priority.’