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Workloads creating more stress for lawyers than financial difficulties

UK lawyers continue to struggle with depression and alcohol abuse 

7 January 2013

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Stress continued to be the top wellbeing concern for lawyers last year, according to figures released by UK charity LawCare today.

Of the 378 files opened by the charity in 2012, 69 per cent related to stress, the same proportion as in 2011, where 392 files were opened.

And, as in 2011, the next most common reason for contacting LawCare was depression (13 per cent), followed by alcohol (six per cent). 

These were down from 2011 however – by two per cent for depression and one per cent for alcohol – with other causes making up a slightly greater proportion.

Lawyers’ concerns about workloads, the most frequently mentioned cause, increased from 21 to 28 per cent. It overtook financial problems, at 19 per cent, which was the main cause  in 2011.

Disciplinary issues and bullying (14 per cent each) were also cited by callers, along with ethical issues (eight per cent) and redundancy (seven per cent).

Women represented nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of callers, while more than a third were trainees or less than five year qualified. 

Solicitors made up 62 per cent of callers, followed by barristers (11 per cent), legal executives (seven per cent) and paralegals (three per cent).

Calls were mostly from lawyers practising in litigation (17 per cent), commercial law (15 per cent), general high street (12 per cent), family (ten per cent) and conveyancing (ten per cent).

Among callers reporting problems with alcohol misuse, 87 per cent were qualified for ten years of more. According to LawCare, this could be because new lawyers drink to alleviate stress, only to find themselves addicted later.

By comparison, of those complaining about stress, 37 per cent were qualified for ten years of more. 

LawCare provides free and confidential support and advice to all sectors of the legal profession, including staff and families suffering problems such as stress, depression or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Its helpline (0800 279 6888) is open 365 days a year.

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