Law firms are expanding their wellbeing support for employees as overstretched companies compete for top talent.
With the UK experiencing the best year for dealmaking activity since 2015 lawyers have been inundated with a flood of M&A litigation leading to long hours and poor sleep quality for staff. To try and stop fed-up lawyers from quitting in droves law firms are raising pay, take on more trainees and now firms are expanding mental health support.
Baker McKenzie, a US based law firm, is one such company that has introduced wellbeing support. Partners and managers are trained to spot the signs of mental health difficulties amongst staff and regular discussions are held on striking a healthy work-life balance.
“Competitiveness, toughness and rewarding achievement are all too often dominant traits within law firms, so it is important self-care is not side-lined in favour of focusing just on results,” said Sarah Gregory a partner at Baker McKenzie in London.
“Developing a culture where everyone feels supported and able to speak up if they need assistance is key,” she added.
UK law firm Ashurst has also introduced a wellbeing programme to support mental health and help to stem exits from the profession the FT first reported.
Jason Connolly the CEO of JMC legal recruitment commented on the growing willingness of firms to take steps to mitigate the impact of tough working conditions on staff wellbeing.
“The day to day grind and hours expected working at City firms has always been an issue; the City is notoriously known for taking it’s pound of flesh,” said Connelly. “What we have found in recent months is that the UK based City firms have been much more diligent in taking steps and measures to look after the wellbeing of their Lawyers.”
It comes after a survey of 1,713 lawyers by LawCare found that 69 per cent of participants had experienced mental ill-health in the 12 months prior to completing the 2020/21 survey.
Around ten per cent of participants reported sleeping for less than five hours per night with staff aged between 26 and 35 reporting the highest levels of burn out.