In the UK, solicitors continue to be in better health than the general population and the average number of sick days they take has fallen. However, most solicitors continue to work under moderate stress. The UK Law Society has published research on the health and wellbeing of solicitors.
Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said:
‘Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure the work entails, but we should also consider our own health and wellbeing.
‘The number of solicitors going to work when they should be taking sick leave to get better has fallen, but many still go to work when they are unwell.
‘Solicitors experiencing stress or other sickness at work should speak to colleagues or their line manager about it. The Law Society has a free helpline that offers confidential support for all our members. We also provide a range of resources to support good practice management.’
The main findings of the survey are:
Good health: 85 per cent of solicitors reported being in good health, a slight fall from 88 per cent in 2013 but still four percentage points above figures for the working population nationally.
Sick days: On average, those taking time off due to ill-health or injury took 5.7 days, a fall from 6.6 days in 2013.
Work ethic: 39 per cent of solicitors reported going to work when sick leave should have been taken, a fall from 45 per cent in 2013.
Stress levels: 96 per cent of solicitors said they experienced negative stress, with 19 per cent at ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ levels, a slight increase from 16 per cent in 2013. Workload and client expectations were identified as the most common causes of stress in the Law Society’s 2013 research.
LawCare chief executive Elizabeth Rimmer said:
‘LawCare is here to help anyone working in the legal community who may be finding the demands of law tough. Our website offers a range of practical information about wellbeing and we provide a free and completely confidential helpline for anyone who needs a listening ear about personal or professional problems. Everyone answering the phone has worked in the law and understands the day-to-day pressures lawyers face.
‘Lawyers are used to solving other people’s problems and often find it hard to admit that they are not coping with the demands of work and may be worried that not coping may be seen as a weakness by colleagues. This shouldn’t be the case. It can be very cathartic to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Many people who call our helpline say that the chat on the helpline has really helped them to feel better and put things in perspective.’