One in six solicitors has been bullied in the workplace, according to research by the Law Society. Preliminary findings of the Society’s 2012 omnibus survey of the profession reveal that 17% of solicitors say they have been bullied at work.

The percentage is higher for those working in government (25%) and commerce and industry (23%), compared with those working in private practice (16%).

Of around 1,600 who took part in the survey, 6% said they had experienced sexual harassment and 10% said they had been discriminated against.

Of those, 168 respondents who had experienced discrimination, nearly two thirds (64%) attributed it to their sex, 20% to their age, 20% to their ethnicity, 19% to social class. Other things also cited as factors were religion, disability, pregnancy and sexual orientation.

On the issue of stress, only 5% of practising certificate holders reported having no negative stress in the work; 65% reported either moderate or severe stress and 4% said they experienced extreme stress. However, only 2% said they taken time off work due to stress over the past 12 months.

The initial findings of the survey were presented to the Society’s membership board, which is looking to develop a strategy to promote the wellbeing of its membership.

A paper to the board written by the Society’s corporate responsibility specialist Kate Walmsley said that the reports of bullying, harassment and discrimination are ‘clearly too high’.

She said the reported instances were not significantly higher than in other sectors, but that a strategy to address and support members facing such issues is important to reduce the financial and reputational cost to the profession and the Law Society.