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Survey shows high stress levels in young English lawyers

13 April 2017

A survey by the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales has found that over 93% of respondents had suffered with stress in the month before completing the survey, with 26% saying they were severely or extremely stressed.

The Resilience and wellbeing survey report summarises the results of the February 2017 online survey. This received 214 responses from JLD members. The JLD has over 70,000 members, and the report says the findings are indicative of the JLD membership rather than representative.

The survey results showed that key stress factors for responding junior lawyers are high workload, lack of support, client demands/expectations and ineffective management. A high 73% of respondents said their firm could do more to support stress at work.

When asked what firms could do to support their junior lawyers, respondents favoured training (both for management and junior lawyers), increased visibility of internal policies, support/counselling, increased levels of supervision, and better management.

When asked how often in the last month they had felt unable to cope as a result of stress, 15.5% of respondents said "regularly", with 39.1% saying "occasionally". There was a noticeable difference between male and female respondents.

How often in the last month have you felt unable to cope as a result of stress?
AnswersOverallMaleFemale
Regularly15.5%5.3%19.3%
Occasionally39.1%31.6%41.3%
Rarely29.0%36.8%26.7%
Never15.9%24.6%12.7%

What do you consider to be the cause of the stress at work you experience?
AnswerOverall
High workload64.8%
Ineffective management49.5%
Lack of support48.4%
Client demands/expectations47.8%
Lack of control39.0%
Lack of resources30.2%
Billable hours targets26.4%
Other11.0%

In the last month, have you experienced any of the below situations as a result of work-related stress?
AnswerOverall
Nearly made a mistake that would not have happened otherwise53.1%
Considered taking time off but did not51.9%
Experienced problems with family life or relationships44.9%
Looked for another job43.0%
Made a mistake that would not have happened otherwise36.7%
Took time off13.2%

Following release of the survey results, the JLD released a statement saying that law firms should provide better training and support to managers and trainee solicitors to reduce high stress levels amongst newly qualified solicitors.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019