Law Society calls for ‘culture change’ to address legal industry’s mental health crisis

Monday 09 May 2022 14:22

The head of the Law Society said law firms have a “collective responsibility” to address the legal sector’s mental health crisis.

Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce has called for a “culture shift” in the legal industry, to prioritize mental health in the workplace.

The comments come amid concerns about poor mental health in the legal profession, following the release of new figures showing that 69% of lawyers have experienced poor mental health in the past year.

The research found that young lawyers, aged 26 to 39, worked the longest hours and were also the most likely to have suffered from burnout.

Women working in the legal sector were also more likely to have experienced burnout than their male colleagues, the figures show.

Boyce said that while it is “often the responsibility of the individual to remedy their poor mental health”, everyone in the legal industry has a “collective responsibility” to ensure that working conditions do not contribute to a mental health crisis.

“We need to start talking about how certain work practices contribute to an increased risk of poor mental health and how we can work together to change that,” Boyce said.

“It is essential to fight against excessive working hours and workloads, as well as to ensure better supervision and support, especially for young lawyers.

Suzanna Eames, President of the Law Society’s Young Lawyers Division, said, “Report after report, the general legal culture has been shown to harm many young lawyers, leading to mental health issues such as burnout, depression, anxiety and (at worst) self-harm and suicidal thoughts.