Wellbeing of lawyers worse than GPs and teachers, says study
10th February 2020
It’s no surprise that lawyers’ jobs can be challenging and stressful at times due to the legal sector’s fast-paced environment. However, that doesn’t deter many students pursuing a career in law and turning to agencies like Law Absolute to get the best possible opportunity once they have graduated.
Nonetheless, a new Birkbeck University of London study has revealed that lawyers, and specifically solicitors, have a lower sense of psychological wellbeing.
The study involved 340 trainee and qualified solicitors who were measured against a recent NHS data survey which concluded that the national wellbeing average scored 49.9 points. PhD researcher, Lucinda Soon, observed that solicitor’s average wellbeing scored 44.3 points, which is five points lower than the average and considerably lower than other ‘stressful’ professions such as teachers, vets and some GPs. The results showed that teachers scored 47.7, veterinary surgeons 48.9 and GPs in Northern Island 50.2. Moreover, they also found that senior lawyers are better off than junior lawyers due to high stress and expectations that follow junior and new lawyers.
When looking at psychological wellbeing, certain factors that are analysed include autonomy of work, being connected and socially supported within the work environment and having a perception of being effective within the unit. Without these factors being fulfilled, a person’s wellbeing can be significantly lowered.
Ms Soon suggests that the results show that this isn’t just an individual focus on solicitor’s wellbeing, but that the legal sector should be looking at “how firms and organisations can improve satisfaction of those needs”. The answer to this is to start looking at the bigger picture and try to improve the environment and culture of the legal sector, something LawCare, a charity dedicated to supporting those in the legal sector, is already working hard to achieve.
“The time is now to address the culture and working practices in law that can lead to poor wellbeing and build the social capital in the legal community to create positive change,” says Elizabeth Rimmer, LawCare’s chief executive officer. From offering support and advice to law professionals to offering training and education to prevent negative impacts on mental health, LawCare is paving the way for improving the culture of the legal sector and the health and happiness of those working within it.
You can find out more about LawCare's services over on their website.