Poor work-life balance, long hours and lack of support from management are causing unprecedented amounts of stress in the legal profession, a Lawyer 2B survey has found.
The finding that many young lawyers are buckling under current stress levels comes despite firms’ efforts to introduce programmes to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.
The survey found that working long hours and stress levels were not necessarily linked, although having too much work was a key cause of stress for many respondents. Many said their firm was poor at supporting them, with US firms being the least supportive of work-life balance (2 June 2014).
The survey, conducted in April, examined working hours; the factors that contribute most to stress; the policies that firms have in place to counter stress; and lawyers’ perceptions of how committed their employers are to work-life balance.
Among the key findings of the survey were that:
- only 17 per cent of lawyers are aware of stress-management initiatives run by their firm
- US firms in London do least to encourage work-life balance
- but at all levels of seniority, magic circle lawyers work the longest hours
The survey comes in the wake of a series of moves by City firms to address stress in law. In April, Clifford Chance announced that it is to roll out its trainee stress-combating programme across the whole firm (2 April 2014), while Hogan Lovells pledged last September to review its stress-management policies in the wake of IP partner David Latham’s suicide (13 Sep 2013). It has since taken its counselling service on-site (20 Feb 2014)
Peter Rodgers, chair of the City Mental Health Alliance, said: “We are optimistic that culture across the City can, and is, changing. The Alliance is endorsed by those at the very top of City organisations. These individuals and their businesses are paying more than lip-service to these issues, and are looking to make real change.”