What is the state of wellbeing in the legal industry? 

6-12th May 2024 is Wellbeing Week in Law, organised by the Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL) to raise awareness about mental health in the legal industry, as well as encourage action and innovation to improve wellbeing all year round.

As the week draws to a close, we asked Marissa Ayres, Director and Head of Lawyer Wellbeing at Setfords, for her thoughts on the current state of wellbeing in the legal industry and what she feels needs to be done to support and enable lawyers’ productivity and happiness.  

What is the state of wellbeing in the legal industry? 

The lack of attention to wellbeing in the legal industry is a real problem. Law firms and the industry as a whole need to address the challenges and needs of lawyers if they want to improve their talent acquisition and retention.  

There has never been a more pressing time for legal professionals to put their health and happiness first. According to LawCare’s Life in the Law research, 69% of them have experienced mental ill-health, and the profession as a whole is at high risk of burnout. As well as this, 20% of lawyers under 40 are considering leaving the profession in the next five years.  

Why is it such an issue? 

There’s often an unspoken expectation for lawyers to be “always on” and put work before their personal lives. This high-pressure culture can make lawyers feel guilty about taking breaks, setting boundaries, or even discussing their mental health with their colleagues.  

I’ve spoken to hundreds of lawyers who, battered by years of impossible targets and a culture of presenteeism, simply can’t take anymore. They’ve lost their passion, not only for the law but for the things outside of work that should be making them happy. 

It really shouldn’t be this way. Law is a profession built on helping people, often at some of the most vulnerable times of life. But how can lawyers serve their clients to the best of their ability if they’re feeling burnt out and overburdened themselves? 

Who’s responsible for making changes? 

Law firms need to take accountability and address these issues if they want to attract and retain the best talent. Wellbeing should be approached as a key strategic priority. If lawyers feel that their firms aren’t taking their concerns seriously, it’s time for them to act.  

What can lawyers do? 

If you’re a lawyer and you feel that you’re not getting what you need from your firm in the way of wellbeing, it’s time to be the master of your own destiny and decide what is and isn’t right for you.  

There has never been a better time for you to take control of your legal career and your life. These days, the traditional route isn’t the only viable one. Setfords are pioneers of the Platform Law Model which is driving transformative change to the legal industry at an unprecedented rate. 

This model aims to address problems such as poor work-life balance, impossible targets, and hyper-competitiveness. You are in charge of what you do and how you do it; you can set your own schedules, choose your clients, and work from almost anywhere in the world. As such, you can prioritise your lives outside of work and have time to focus on whatever wellbeing might mean to you. At Setfords in particular, we place lawyer support at the heart of everything we do, and this support is tailored to our lawyers’ individual needs. This includes investing in a nurturing and inclusive culture, providing back-office support (with no hidden charges as a standard), and supporting our lawyers to grow their client base with thousands of new business leads delivered every month.  

Every lawyer will have a very personal definition of wellbeing. You need to find what works for you. This means taking a holistic view of the options available and pragmatically identifying the best choice to support your career and your personal life. The same things won’t work for every lawyer, but with 20 years of experience and as the first Director of Lawyer Wellbeing in the legal industry, I’ve picked up some tips and steps you can take to ensure you’re doing what you can to support your own wellbeing:  

  1. Communicate your needs to your law firm 

Are they listening to what you’re saying and addressing any issues? Life as a lawyer can only improve if open communication is encouraged and acted upon by everyone in a firm.  

  1. Take some time to reflect and decide what the ideal work-life balance looks like to you

Look at the work you’re doing – how much of this is billable client work? Are you being fairly remunerated? Do you have the option to dial work up and down depending on the needs of you and your family? 

  1. Do your homework on the firm you’re looking at 

If you’ve decided it’s time to move on from your current firm to improve your wellbeing, it pays to do your homework. What is the culture like? How do they support, promote and drive inclusion, foster collaboration and invest in your wellbeing?  

Here at Setfords, we know that happier lawyers equal happier clients (we’ve been rated 4.9* by over 10,000 happy clients on TrustPilot). We firmly believe that wellbeing in the legal industry can only be the standard if it’s made a real priority. 

It’s time to take control – take the plunge, look at what’s out there and choose a better way.  

Marrisa Ayres, Director and Head of Lawyer Wellbeing

Download our Brochure

Download our brochure to learn more about the Setfords model and how we support our consultant lawyers.

    Take your first step today

    For unparalleled flexibility, greater earnings, and all the support you need to build your successful business, Setfords is here. If you’re an entrepreneurial lawyer who wants to join an award-winning firm where investment in your growth is the priority, fill out this form, and one of our team will be in touch to discuss life as a consultant lawyer.

    Alternatively, contact us by telephone or email:
    Email us: applications@setfords.co.uk / Call us: 0330 162 1792

      This allows us to send you the information you need to know about consultancy

      This enables us to get in touch and discuss life as a Setfords consultant

      Currently, we can only work with lawyers qualified under one of these regulatory bodies