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Lawyers struggling with stress?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 09/01/14

Being a lawyer can be stressful. Admittedly, this is somewhat offset by all the lovely money that is available to those who succeed in the profession, but every legal expert - particularly in private practice - will have some experience of long nights in the office with only a sheaf of documents and a family-size cafetiere for company.

According to the latest reports from legal support charity LawCare, the number of cases it dealt with increased by 35 per cent over the course of 2013, suggesting the problem may be getting worse.

The organisation took on 515 cases in the last 12 months, marking the second biggest year in its history, reports Law Gazette.

While it's undeniably easy to make jokes about how it's hard to deal with stress when you're driving home in your Bentley to your Notting Hill mansion, the reality is that material comfort is of no importance to underlying mental health issues.

And the pressures being placed on lawyers in the current economic climate means they are even more likely to succumb to symptoms of stress or depression.

Some 74 per cent of calls received by the charity were related to the former problem, with 12 per cent linked to depression and a further six per cent to alcohol abuse.

Of the two-thirds of callers able to identify a specific reason for their problem, almost a quarter pinpointed workload, with a further 19 per cent citing bullying. Financial problems and disciplinary issues were also common complaints.

According to the charity, the fact that lawyers often turn to alcohol as a tool for relaxing can lead to problems with dependency further down the line.

Workloads are unlikely to drop any time soon, with firms often being asked to do more for less and placing that burden on their lawyers, but people working in the industry can take steps to safeguard their mental health.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet and a willingness to 'switch off' when outside work are all important.