Effects of the Pandemic on the Legal Profession

by | Jan 28, 2022

Working in the legal profession requires a high stress resilience because of the challenges build into the inherently conflict-driven nature of the business.

Often an ‘always-on’ work culture coupled with high performance expectations can exacerbate stress, especially when there is a predisposition for anxiety, depression, or mood fluctuations.

Added pressure comes from ongoing time constraints and deadlines; dealing with challenging personalities (junior and senior colleagues, partners, clients); fear of appearing weak; and the weight of responsibility that arises when stakes are high. As a result, energy resources can get depleted quickly, especially when natural healthy coping mechanism are neglected with a ‘I’ll deal with this later’ attitude.

How has the pandemic impacted the legal sector?

Already pre-pandemic stress-related problems were commonplace in the legal profession. These included: burnout, insomnia, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, imposter syndrome, addictions, and physiological diseases such as coronary diseases, digestive system issues, and skin disorders.

Contrary to the claim ‘We are all in this together’, the pandemic has affected certain groups a lot more than others. For some working from home temporary relieved pre-existing issues, for others it compounded them or raised new problems.

For example, research in the UK legal profession shows working from home has been welcome mostly by more experienced lawyers, whilst more junior staff reported significant difficulties relating to the lack of mentoring and socialising opportunities.

Another UK study conducted by the Law Society revealed a serious impact on the morale and wellbeing of lawyers. Around 75% of law firm staff who switched to homeworking are experiencing feelings of isolation, lack of motivation, and issues around communication.

What can individuals do to improve their situation?

Depending on the difficulties you experience, restoring a healthy work-life balance is usually the most important starting point. This can include taking short breaks from the desk or rethinking the ways of decompressing on a regular basis. There are several apps available that help inspire and achieve regular exercise or meditation for example.

From a biological point of view, we are social animals. With this understanding the importance of connection is self-evident. Ideally, you connect with people outside of work to allow for time to get some distance and regain perspective. Relationships with family and friends improve when you develop a discipline of leaving the ‘inner lawyer’ at the (home)office.

If there is professional support available at the firm it may be sensible to reach out. That’s what an in-house counselling service is here for. Most importantly, whatever you choose to do, do it!

What is an In-house counselling service?

In-house counselling is a confidential service provided by your firm and arranged directly between you and the counsellor. It provides therapeutically informed support for staff experiencing difficulties.

A collaborative endeavour, in-house counselling is tailored to the client’s needs. Using an integrative model to episodic treatment, it combines traditional theories with a solution focussed, pragmatic approach and a holistic view.

The aim is to help you feel empowered and good about yourself and about what you do, and to excel and have excellent working relationships with colleagues.

If you would like to know more or arrange a meeting with us to discuss how we can help you, please send us an email to [email protected].



Law Society UK: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/en/topics/small-firms/mental-health-of-lawyers-and-covid-19
Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/24428ce4-a99c-11ea-abfc-5d8dc4dd86f9
Forbes Business Council: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/11/08/the-effects-of-the-pandemic-on-the-legal-industry/?sh=fe4da1c7f77a
Royal Society for Public Health: https://www.rsph.org.uk/about-us/news/survey-reveals-the-mental-and-physical-health-impacts-of-home-working-during-covid-19.html