Law Society of Ireland launch wellbeing initiative for solicitors
With 57% of solicitors surveyed reporting very high or extreme levels of stress, the Law Society of Ireland has launched a new initiative designed to promote wellbeing in the solicitors’ profession in Waterford and across Ireland.
The Law Society of Ireland commissioned independent research into the wellbeing of solicitors, which was conducted by Psychology at Work in 2018. The Law Society’s Professional Wellbeing Project was launched on Monday to address the needs identified. It provides practical supports, education and guidance across three pillars: workplace culture, resilience and wellbeing, and emotional and psychological health.
“The Law Society’s Professional Wellbeing Project has been designed to address the specific issues our members have told us they experience in the course of their work as solicitors,” says Teri Kelly, Law Society director of representation and member services.
“It aims to address the current stigma attached to talking about and seeking help for stress and mental health issues. The evidence shows that this is a global problem. Legal professions around the world experience high levels of stress that negatively affect mental health and wellbeing.”
The Irish research revealed that:
“It’s important to note these findings are considered a likely, but not definitive, representation of the membership as a whole,” explains Ms Kelly.
“However, paired with the international research available and some direct feedback from members, we have a strong basis for developing a proactive programme to promote wellbeing among our members.”
Concerns also exist for practitioners who are exposed to distressing material and situations in the course of their work. “We know that criminal law and family law practitioners in particular can be exposed to distressing materials, cases and situations in the course of their work. It’s not hard to imagine the negative impact this can have on solicitors’ wellbeing,” says Ms Kelly.
“US research even suggests that lawyers may experience significantly higher levels of vicarious trauma and burn-out than US mental health clinicians and social service workers.”
Tools and supports
Some of the key tools and supports that solicitors will be able to access as part of the Law Society’s Professional Wellbeing Project include:
“We know that our members throughout Ireland want to be there for each other in a real and effective way. Solicitors want to know more about how to support colleagues who are experiencing distress or stress," she says.
“The Professional Wellbeing Project, along with the existing supports already in place for trainee solicitors via the Law School Psychological Services, aims to meet these needs in an effective, modern and evolving way.”
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