LawCare

LawCare

The pressures of being a lawyer in today’s heavily competitive world are enormous. The recession has meant there is less business, with a great deal of competition for that business. The long-hours culture has reached epidemic proportions and the high expectations others have of lawyers, and lawyers have of themselves, carries a huge toll. Redundancy, practises failing and those left having to do more and more work for less and less money add to the burden.

For the individual lawyer the result can be alcohol addiction, drug abuse, eating disorders, a nervous breakdown or clinical depression, serious problems that can potentially spell the end of an otherwise successful career. In some cases, particularly those involving depression and alcohol addiction, the problems can result in loss of belief in the ability to earn a living in the law, or, in the worst case scenario, the suicide of the lawyer. The Americans see mental health care without stigma whereas we see it as a huge issue, and it is about time that changed.

This is where LawCare can help. LawCare is an advisory and support service to help lawyers, their staff and their immediate families to deal with just such health problems. It provides a free and completely confidential advisory service. LawCare offers the opportunity to discuss problems which are interfering with, or have the potential to interfere with, work performance and family life, and to seek help in resolving these problems. LawCare has helped over 4,000 lawyers with problems such as these.

Through discussion with a client, LawCare offers identification of a problem, non-judgemental support and empathy, and the on-going support of a LawCare volunteer, a fellow lawyer who has suffered from the same or a similar problem. It also provides
referral to professional counselling, if necessary; or to other sources of help, such as inpatient treatment, legal advice or financial assistance; and ongoing monitoring, support and encouragement. Information packs about illness or impairment are available on their website www.lawcare.org.uk for those callers who prefer to remain anonymous. Also through the website you can access the LawCare Wellbeing Portal, an online tool to help you monitor, analyse and deal with the stress in your personal and professional life.

And it is not just about individual lawyers. The solutions to these growing problems lie largely with firms. Ignoring health issues is not good practice. LawCare stresses the importance of firms recognising their employees as individuals, with differing skills, strengths and weaknesses. Firms should aim to structure the individual lawyer’s workload to play to the strengths and minimise the weaknesses, showing flexibility where necessary.

So if any of this rings a bell with you then the best thing is a call to LawCare’s free and confidential helpline number 0800 279 6888. It is open 9 a.m.-7.30 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at weekends and on Bank Holidays. It really is a good idea to look after your mental health, for your sake and for the sake of your clients.

And finally, may I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

This post was written by:

- who has written 460 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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