UK lawyers increasingly concerned about their career prospects, LawCare study shows

Some 22% of legal professionals called LawCare with career concerns last year, up from 8% a year earlier
A photo of Elizabeth Rimmer

Elizabeth Rimmer, LawCare CEO Photo courtesy of LawCare

Almost a quarter of UK legal professionals are increasingly concerned about their careers, a sharp jump on the previous 12 month period, according to LawCare’s 2022 impact report.

As many as 22% of legal professionals contacting LawCare for support said they had career concerns, compared with just 8% in 2021. Career concerns now match the number of legal professionals seeking help because of stress, the report showed. That was followed by people calling with anxiety issues (12%) and depression (8%). A hangover from pandemic-era working conditions were also a concern, with 7.5% of people seeking LawCare support citing a lack of supervision as a problem.

Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said: “This willingness to question their life in the law may be partly a response to the pandemic: legal professionals could be reflecting on what they want from life and work and be less willing to stay in careers or workplaces that don’t meet their needs and expectations and could be undermining their mental health.”

Rimmer said legal professionals were calling with a wide range of career-related challenges, from training and development issues to questions around early retirement, with some lawyers no longer seeing law as a lifelong career.  

“We anticipate that in 2023 the number of people contacting us with career concerns may grow as the tough economic climate takes its toll,” Rimmer added.

The majority of people (60%) getting in touch with LawCare for support were trainees and pupils who have been qualified for fewer than five years, in line with 2021’s number. That suggests junior lawyers are still not getting the emotional support they need from their employers, LawCare said.

A third of those contacting LawCare in total were male, a 3% increase on the previous 12 months. LawCare’s support service was contacted 849 times in 2022, an 18% increase.

Some law firms are taking steps to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. Last year, Clifford Chance hired its first-ever global head of wellbeing, Charles Alberts, who joined from Aon in London to lead the magic circle firm’s wellbeing strategy.

A study last year by Krill Strategies and the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences found that firms focusing on financial performance and productivity above all else are likely to create unhealthy work practices that can harm lawyer wellbeing

Nine law firms and not-for-profit organisations are shortlisted in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative of the Year category of the Women and Diversity in Law Awards, which will take place on 21 March in London when LawCare will feature as the official charity partner.

They are: Fragomen, Harbottle & Lewis, Jenna Atkinson, Higgs, In/Fertility in the City, the International Bar Association, Manders Law, Mills & Reeve and RPC.

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