The initial findings of a global survey of wellbeing in the legal profession are a “cause for concern”, with stigma a major problem, according to the International Bar Association (IBA).
The IBA study included two surveys – one for individuals, one for legal institutions – and drew responses from more than 3,000 legal professionals and 180 organisations.
The association says the wellbeing index scores gathered from the data, which were based on World Health Organisation methodology, show that lawyers’ levels of wellbeing are below the global average in every regional forum.
41% of respondents said that they could not discuss wellbeing issues with their employer without worrying that it would damage their career or livelihoods.
The survey also found that awareness about available local and international support and services was low. In addition, 22% of those surveyed said there was no wellbeing help, guidance or support in place in their jurisdiction.
Most employees think that their employers need to do more in the area, including 75% of respondents aged between 25 and 35.
Disproportionate impact on some groups
The IBA said wellbeing issues were having a disproportionate impact on the young, women, those who identify as an ethnic minority, and those with disabilities – with those groups reporting wellbeing scores consistently below the global average for other respondents.
The study is part of the work of a taskforce set up by the IBA in 2019 to implement coordinated responses to wellbeing issues.
In Ireland, the Law Society has invited firms to show their commitment to workplace wellbeing by signing up to its Professional Wellbeing Charter.