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Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Legal Sector

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The last couple of years have been tough on everyone; the Covid pandemic, lockdowns, and fears of a global recession have been enough to make most of us question our mental health.

Within the legal sector, with its normally high levels of stress and strains, this period has brought unprecedented additional pressures to lawyers and those who work within the sector.

These pressures have been highlighted by a recent global study which has documented the effect of these issues on the legal sector – the results are eye-opening, suggesting that over a third of all lawyers feel their “work negatively affects their mental wellbeing”.

This is staggering and, as the study points out, needs to be addressed.

The conclusions drawn by the study show that mental wellbeing really matters within the legal sector and that firms must find ways to combat the stigma and make a commitment to change.

Firms must look for effective methods to help lawyers (and support staff) reduce stress levels, boost resilience, and encourage equality in order to ensure the mental wellbeing of their whole team.

This article explores a few ways that firms can support their team, promote mental wellbeing, and build a law firm for the future.




1. Raise Awareness

The concept that someone struggling with their mental health or wellbeing is ‘weak’ is outdated and must be refuted.

However, according to the study, many lawyers questioned feel that they are unable to talk about their issues because of the “stigma attached to the subject, and fears for the impact on their career or professional standing”.

Nearly half of all participants suggest they feel the impact on their career would put them off discussing their mental wellbeing with their firm.

Therefore, raising awareness, adopting effective mental wellbeing policies, use of supportive assessment, and encouraging management training in skills linked to wellbeing awareness are essential first steps.




2. Promote Communication

Once a mental wellbeing policy has been implemented, it is essential to back this up by encouraging an open dialogue and promoting clear communication channels.

Ensuring your team feel valued, understood, and listened to are essential factors for promoting effective communication.

The following points will help:

• Promoting active listening

• Building relationships

• Developing trust

* Displaying and promoting empathy

• Being responsive

• Tailoring communication to the individual

Educating your team

Developing leadership abilities

• Show gratitude and support




3. Address Systemic Problems

It is all well and good putting policies in place to encourage positive mental wellbeing, but if the root of the problem still exists, it can be frustrating and sometimes futile.

Focussing on the entrenched structural and cultural law firm practises such as poor life/work balance, and intensive time demands, are essential as most of those questioned cited time pressures as commonly perceived to have a negative impact on their wellbeing.

Similarly, sharing good practises between individuals, firms, institutions, and so on, will ensure healthier and more effective ways of working are disseminated and perpetuated across the industry.

Dealing with some of these issues can take time and resources but by encouraging self-care techniques, offering work-from-home options or flexible working, assessing workloads, and learning from employees what works for them, is beneficial over the long term.

These factors also help to ‘future proof’ your firm as the study suggest that “a legal profession with persistent levels of poor mental wellbeing is not a sustainable profession” – meaning talented younger generations will chose not to study law but will instead chose a profession with a greater emphasis on wellbeing.

Similarly, law firms risk losing talent from within their existing employee pool (especially at risk are women, minority groups or those with disabilities according to the study) so addressing the systematic problems early on means talent is retained within the firm.



4. Foster Equality and Diversity

Issues of equality and diversity are often at the heart of mental wellbeing.
According to the study, within the legal sector there are certain groups more inclined to experience “greater levels of difficulties with mental wellbeing”.

It suggests that those who are “younger, female, from an ethnic minority or disabled” are more at risk.

However, the study finds that this is not due to “weakness” on the part of individuals but more likely due to a “strong inter-relationship between mental wellbeing and issues of equality, diversity and inclusivity”.

In order to promote mental wellbeing within these groups, firms must be “developing a meaningful understanding and awareness of the needs of specific groups, and identifying effective ways to foster equality, diversity and inclusion”.


Promoting positive mental wellbeing, as a priority, is essential for law firms.

Here at Creative Word Training, we work with firms to train their teams in each of the above elements.

We offer courses which:

Promote Awareness

• Improve Communication

Project management / Time management

• Increase Cultural Awareness

Contact us now to see how we can help your firm or click the links above to view and book courses.