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22 January 2020

Lawyer helpline reports steep rise in bullying complaints

UK charity LawCare says complaints about harassment rose by 70% in 2019 making it a top three issue

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The number of lawyers calling a UK support helpline about bullying rose by 70% last year. The finding is contained is the annual report of the charity LawCare, which runs a helpline, webchat, email and peer support service for legal professionals.

Last year, 80 lawyers contacted the charity about bullying compared to 47 in 2018, with 66% complaining of being harassed by a manager or superior.

The charity reported an overall increase in the number of legal professionals seeking help of 8% last year – the most commen problems cited by the callers were stress (26%) and depression (12%). 

The majority of callers were women (67%), while 53% were either trainees or had been qualified for less than five years.

Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said: “The biggest trend we’ve noticed is the number of people contacting us about bullying and harassment which is now one of the top three issues people contact us about, possibly because of a lot more attention on this issue in the media over the past couple of years.

“We will be undertaking more detailed research later this year to discover exactly how the culture of law is impacting on wellbeing and mental health, and we hope to use this to drive change in legal workplaces."

The charity said it provided 304 hours of support over the phone last year, answering a call every two-and-a-half hours.

The news coincides with the publication of data by employment law firm Littler that found that British companies were the most proactive in Europe in their efforts to take measures to combat sexual harassment.

In May 2019, the International Bar Association published the results of a global survey that found that bullying and sexual harassment were widespread within the legal profession.

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