New Year, new pressures for solicitors in need
The arrival of a new year can be a catalyst for change for many of us – whether it’s a resolution to eat more healthily and exercise more, or a more profound decision regarding work, business, or personal relationships. Many problems come to the fore during the festive period and the New Year is often seen as the time to resolve them.
This combination of circumstances can have an impact both on solicitors’ clients and on members of the profession themselves, making January a busy and high-pressured time.
January 2022 comes after an incredibly intense period for law professionals, many of whom have been working flat-out throughout Covid-19.
Data from a leading family law firm revealed that divorce enquiries to legal firms rose by 95% during the pandemic (source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/divorce-inquiries-rise-pandemic-women-b1843359.html). With the easing of stamp duty arrangements by the government in the period to 30 September 2021, UK house sales soared and the pressure on solicitors rose with the volume of work.
Add to this the emotional impact of long periods with many solicitors operating remotely to keep their colleagues and clients safe, and stress levels have been raised even further.
According to the recent Life in the Law report (https://www.lawcare.org.uk/files/LawCare-LifeInTheLaw-Final-report.pdf) published by our charity partner Law Care with support from The Solicitors’ Charity, legal professionals are under increasing strain, citing stress, anxiety, depression, overload, difficult workplace relationships, bullying, discrimination, harassment, ineffective supervision, and poor work-life balance.
The report gathered insight from more than 17,000 legal professionals, collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its findings concluded that a shift in work culture and practices are needed to support and safeguard the health and wellbeing of individuals working in law. The report also examined the impact that the pandemic has had on law professionals. It showed that:
- While most law professionals were not furloughed (88%) or made redundant (2%) because of the pandemic, almost half expressed concern about their job security and nearly 60% were concerned about their finances
- Almost 60% of participants reported being more concerned about increased pressures around work-life balance
- Participants reported difficulty in maintaining boundaries, keeping motivated and being able to concentrate on tasks
- Positive aspects to working from home included greater flexibility, increased time with family, reduction in commuting time, the opportunity to develop healthy lifestyle habits and self-reflection
With solicitors not immune to the worries, anxieties and stresses caused by the pandemic and increased workloads, it is vitally important that law firms take action to support and safeguard members of the profession, now more than ever.
The Solicitors’ Charity provides financial, emotional, and practical support to help people get back on track when times get tough. If you know of someone who is struggling, or are struggling yourself, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or to pass on our contact details.
The Solicitors Charity gives support to solicitors affected by:
- Long-term health issues or short-term incapacity due to mental or physical ill-health, accident, or injury.
- Low income or no income from work
- Work-related issues, such as redundancy, stress burnout, anxiety, and bullying
- Unemployment and return to work
- Issues managing personal debt
- Challenges coping in older age
- Domestic violence
- Family breakdown and separation
- Addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, and gambling
Solicitors’ firms can also help the profession by donating unclaimed client balances to us, which we invest to give an ongoing income so that we can help more people. We know exactly how much of a challenge dealing with those unclaimed balances can be for firms, balancing the requirements of accounting rules and the prospect that your client may reappear at some point in the future. This is why we give law firms a complete guarantee that the sums they pass on to The Solicitors’ Charity will always be refunded, whenever they are reclaimed.
If you’d like to find out more about how your firm can support our work with unclaimed balances, click here.
As we start the new year, let’s all resolve to do as much as we can to support solicitors in need or crisis.