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LawCare has been keen for many years to gain a better understanding of how work culture and working practices affect the wellbeing of legal professionals. When I joined LawCare as a trustee in January 2019, I was keen to use the knowledge I gained through undertaking research for the Junior Lawyers Division of The Law Society of England and Wales to work on a research study on behalf of LawCare. Whilst the research undertaken by the JLD was a call to action for the legal profession, it only looked at data relating to one section of the profession (junior solicitors, trainee solicitors and paralegals who have undertaken the legal practice course) and not at the profession as a whole. It also only looked at junior lawyers qualified to practice in England and Wales and not those qualified to practice in the rest of the United Kingdom.
In November 2019 LawCare appointed a research committee made up of Dr Emma Jones (University of Sheffield), Professor Richard Collier (University of Newcastle), Caroline Strevens (Reader in Legal Education, University of Portsmouth), Lucinda Soon (Solicitor and PhD researcher) and Nick Bloy (Executive Coach and founder of Wellbeing Republic) and me, alongside representatives from LawCare’s staff team to use their expertise on the wellbeing of lawyers to formulate a research study to better understand life in the law.
The research study uses an online questionnaire which is open to all current members of the legal profession and support staff to the legal profession in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The aim is to include participants who represent a range of interests within the legal profession, including members of the judiciary, solicitors, barristers, patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys, Chatered Legal Executives, legal apprentices, paralegals, legal secretaries and others, both employed and self-employed.
The aim of this research is to explore how work culture and working practices affect the wellbeing of legal professionals in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. To do this, LawCare’s research study will ask about an individual’s current workload and the requirements of their role (including any management responsibilities they may have); their working environment (for example, how much autonomy they have and how supported they feel); what wellbeing support is offered by their workplace (if applicable); and what self-care practices (such as a hobby or exercise) they use. The questionnaire also uses three academic research scales for burn-out, psychological safety and autonomy.
The results of this questionnaire will be used by LawCare to improve the support available to legal professionals by enhancing its understanding of the issues that arise in relation to mental health and wellbeing. It will enable LawCare to better drive cultural change across the industry to ensure that individuals working in the law feel properly supported and valued. In doing so, it is hoped that this research will benefit both present and future generations of lawyers by informing LawCare’s strategy going forward. LawCare will also be able to better tailor the support it provides to address the specific issues highlighted by the research study.
The research study launched today (Tuesday 6 October 2020) in anticipation of World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October 2020. The questionnaire will remain open for completion until 31 December 2020 at lifeinthelaw.org.uk and will take around 20 minutes to complete. LawCare hopes to be in a position to share the results of its Life in the Law research study in May 2021 in time for Mental Health Awareness Week.
I strongly encourage anyone working in the legal profession to complete the survey and share it with their peers to support LawCare’s mission of sustaining a profession of mentally healthy people. If you use social media, please do share on your social media platforms that you have completed the survey to encourage others to do so.
You can complete the survey at lifeinthelaw.org.uk
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