Solicitors: Facing Burnout & Psychological Unsafety

The legal sector has high rates of psychological unsafety and burnout.

Solicitors often spend a lot of their time doing vast amounts of legal groundwork, and they are the first port of call for clients, meaning they tend to be there from beginning to end.

At UKIM Occupational Health and Wellbeing, we understand that solicitors deal with an array of things that can impact negatively on their mental health. It’s evident that they are ‘on-call’ for the majority of their work and get one job right after the other with little to no downtime.

Ben Jones, UKIM Wellbeing Market Consultant and Director at Opus Law Solicitors, shares the intensity and wellbeing hardships of the industry:

“There is a desperate shortage of new solicitors who wish to practise in criminal law even though the volume of work is on the increase. There’s also an ever-increasing backlog of cases that began before Covid and has got worse since then. Not to mention the caseload that solicitors have to deal with now is much larger than it ever was. The shortage of criminal solicitors means that there’s no easy solution, and often, the only way to get through it is to work very long hours. On top of this, solicitors are on call for police stations in the evening, through the night and at weekends. This can massively add to the pressure of dealing with the case load.

Moreover, working with clients who are going through personal crises and some of the darkest days of their lives is not uncommon. We can have clients who are mentally ill or have personality disorders. We have clients who are anti-social and challenging to handle. When you are exhausted, this can eat away at your reserves. We can be called by multiple relatives of a client and have to explain the same thing again and again. This can happen at any time and sometimes when we are at home.”

Financial driven targets can also increase the stressors placed on solicitors. Ben went on to share how the general workload and case backlog can have an impact on finances…

“The backlog has a massive impact on the finances of firms. Solicitors are not paid until the case concludes. There can be a huge caseload and we can be very busy but are not being paid because cases are stuck in the log-jam of the backlog. This is bound to have an impact upon a solicitor’s wellbeing that despite the long hours and stress, little remuneration may be coming in. The lack of any quick fixes means that it is not irrational to think that there is no daylight at the end of the tunnel.”

Here at UKIM, we can provide mental wellbeing support to solicitors, without adding to workload as we manage it externally. Already busy legal workers in firms often struggle to find time to offer their teams the correct amount of support, but UKIM Occupational Health and Wellbeing have the resources to improve the mental wellbeing of solicitors so that they achieve legal excellence.