Law Society survey shows mental health issues widespread in profession

Law Society survey shows mental health issues widespread in profession

New research suggests that nearly two out of three Scottish legal professionals have experienced mental health issues in the past five years, underlining the importance of the Law Society of Scotland’s sector-wide focus on wellbeing.

More than 3,000 legal professionals – including solicitors, trainees and paralegals – participated in the Law Society’s Profile of the Profession survey. Conducted every five years, the results show progress from 2018 in key areas including retention, earnings and levels of discrimination.

This year is the first time the survey has included questions on wellbeing. Among respondents, 64 per cent said they’d had mental health issues in the past five years, while 34 per cent reported burnout. Trainees and women under the age of 35 are most likely to be affected.

Many respondents identified negative impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid working. Among those surveyed, 36 per cent said forming and maintaining close relationships with colleagues was easier pre-Covid, while 40 per cent reported training trainees was better previously.

Sheila Webster, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The Profile of the Profession is an important gauge of where the legal sector is at on important issues, such as equality, diversity and work-life balance. These results show there is much progress to celebrate, but also much still to do.

“Wellbeing has been added to the survey as part of the Law Society’s commitment to supporting individuals and driving wider cultural change within the profession. These alarming results underline the importance of that work and the impact the pandemic has had on many people.

“The survey also touches on a number of other important matters that are linked to wellbeing, showing that work-life balance remains an issue that is driving some out of the profession, and that a disturbing number of legal professionals have been subjected to violence at work.

“These results will feed into our future work and we’ll be engaging closely with the profession to tackle the issues raised. Supporting legal professionals, including their mental wellbeing, stands to benefit law firms and other employers just as much as the individuals who work there.”

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