Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 8 of 8 items for

  • Author or Editor: Rajvinder Samra x
Clear All Modify Search

Legal professionals are thought to have higher levels of mental health issues and lower levels of wellbeing than the general population.

Drawing on qualitative data from new research with legal practitioners, this in-depth study of mental health and wellbeing in the UK and Republic of Ireland’s legal sector is a timely contribution to the urgent international debate on these issues.

The authors present a comprehensive discussion of the cultural, structural and other causes of legal professionals’ compromised wellbeing. They explore the everyday demands and difficulties of the legal working environment and consider the impacts on individuals, the legal profession and wider society.

Making comparisons with systems overseas, this is an invaluable resource that provides evidence-based suggestions for swift and effective organisational and policy-related interventions in the legal sector.

Restricted access

This conclusion draws together the key themes from each individual chapter to present a final argument on the need for practical and evidence-based changes within the profession. It identifies specific actions and changes that can (and should) be taken by different levels of the legal profession, from key stakeholders to individual practitioners to legal educators, creating paths of action and investigation at all levels of the profession. Overall, it sets out a manifesto for holistic change designed to create a healthier legal profession and preserve its key role within society.

Restricted access

This chapter highlights growing international concerns over the levels of mental health and wellbeing within the legal profession. Studies in a range of jurisdictions have consistently shown that legal professionals have higher levels of mental health issues and lower levels of wellbeing than members of the general population. Significant concerns have also been raised around levels of alcohol and substance abuse. This chapter highlights key themes which have emerged from research within other jurisdictions and refers to the need to develop a clear evidence-base within the UK. It emphasises the importance of the mental health and wellbeing of legal professionals within wider society. Not only do current levels of distress lead to great personal suffering, they can lead to lapses in ethical and moral judgement and difficulties in many aspects of legal practice. This can therefore impact on clients, other parties and all who are involved in the justice system.

Restricted access

This chapter begins by focusing on stress, a key issue raised by many in the study. It considers the theoretical meaning of this term and explores how it is conceptualised within the legal profession. This includes discussing key stressors and destressors and linking these to the themes highlighted in previous chapters. It moves on to focus on the reactions and responses to stress (and other mental health and wellbeing problems) that have been identified by legal professionals, including a number of dysfunctional coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substance abuse. It also considers more positive responses (such as yoga) and explore to what extent these alone can impact on the issues facing the profession.

Restricted access

This chapter explores perhaps the largest theme to emerge from the study, the cultural and structural factors which influence mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession. It begins by contrasting the expectations of legal life with the reality of the lived experience and identify a range of features which contribute to this (including pressures to meet billing targets, a long working hours culture and other potentially harmful norms). It also considers some of the underlying issues around equality, diversity and inclusivity which continue to impact upon the structure of the profession. The discussion links these to key theories examining the link between complicity and the normalisation of extreme demands. Overall, this chapter argues that these cultural and structural factors require challenging and changing to enable healthier working practices to embed themselves within the profession.

Restricted access

This chapter explores the interactional demands placed on legal professionals. These include meeting the demands of clients, dealing with vulnerable clients and balancing the needs of clients with the ethical and professional obligations and requirements placed on legal professionals. It also explores the nature of many legal professional’s relationship with their colleagues, which can range from providing a supportive network to potentially creating a toxic working environment. In particular, it considers the way in which the structure of the legal profession results in those who succeed as lawyers being promoted to become managers, despite the potentially very different skillsets involved. This can lead to significant issues with mental health and wellbeing for both the team members involved and the manager themselves.

Restricted access

This chapter explores how a number of the issues around mental health and wellbeing faced by the legal profession can be traced back to the legal education and training provided. Drawing on an international evidence-base relating to the wellbeing of law students, it considers how the professional identity formation of many professionals begins at an early stage and often involved the absorption of potentially unhealthy norms and expectations. In particular, it explores the notion that studying and practising law has a certain status and thus those who follow this route are in some way special or different – one of the key themes identified in this study. The chapter also considers the challenges which can arise when individuals enter the profession but are not provided with adequate training and support, often facing harrowing and difficult situations and cases, but being expected to simply carry on regardless.

Restricted access

This chapter discusses the concepts of mental health and wellbeing, with a particular emphasis on their conceptualisation within the legal profession. It explores how the law (and the legal profession) have traditionally prized a rigid and narrow form of analytical reasoning which excludes or ignores the importance of preserving good mental health and wellbeing within practice. In doing so, it draws on evidence that discussion of mental illness and health remains heavily stigmatised within the profession. This chapter also considers how elements of the legal profession have begun to acknowledge the growing concerns around wellbeing through an emphasis on notions such as “emotional intelligence” and “mindfulness”. These are often characterised in a way which places additional pressures on individual practitioners to practice forms of mental hygiene, whilst failing to tackle the underlying causes, in particular, the widespread use of unhealthy working practices, which are creating and exacerbating wellbeing issues.

Restricted access