Andrew Byrne and Mick Eardley

A legal support network has launched a dedicated well-being service tailored for lawyers struggling with burnout and poor mental health.

The National Legal Alliance, established to combat loneliness during the pandemic, has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative called métier legal lifestyle protect – which aims to help lawyers navigate strains of solitude and mental health challenges amid the demanding rigors of their profession.

The service, launched alongside Mental Health Awareness Week on 13th May, focuses on holistic health while embracing both mental and physical well-being in one accessible platform.

The organisation is hoping to expand the service to include discounted gym memberships, healthy recipes, and a charity partnership that will encourage lawyers to take care of their minds and bodies.

Advertisement

Andrew Byrne, a qualified solicitor and founder of the National Legal Alliance, said: “The attitude towards mental wellbeing for lawyers is definitely improving compared to how things were when I started practising law almost 30 years ago.

“Back then lawyers probably took themselves too seriously. There was a lot of pressure and not a lot of time for socialising or relaxing. You couldn’t switch off from thinking about cases you were working on.

“Burnout was common, and I even had to take six months off at one point to recover from being so exhausted.

“Mental health wasn’t talked about then but now it is, which is something we want to focus on.

“One thing we have noticed is that there is a lot of isolation, especially for smaller firms. It is healthy to go out and have a laugh with people who know what you’re going through. That’s what we try to achieve.”

Mental health is a big issue for people pursuing a career in law.

In 2021, Law Care shared that 69% of 1700 lawyers questioned had experienced mental health difficulties in the last 12 months, however only 56% of those spoke about it at work.

Similarly, research conducted in 2018 by consulting firm BetterUp found that lawyers ranked highest for loneliness, and a follow up article by the Washinton Post shared that 61% of lawyers rank “above average” on the UCLA loneliness scale.

Loneliness in legal professions can be caused by a number of factors including a high workload, not being able to discuss cases and stigma surrounding the job.

The National Legal Alliance, originally the Northern Legal Alliance, was founded during the pandemic to provide support to a network of legal service providers.

Among its array of member benefits, the service extends aid and support in areas such as business development, marketing, networking, and more.

Mick Eardley, Sales and Marketing Director, said: “When COVID came about, it was suddenly really obvious how important your personal network was. We wanted contact with the people we were close to.

“I really struggled. I didn’t realise how important going to work, or having lunch with a client, or going to an event was until it stopped.

“It felt like my whole framework, my whole routine, had been ripped away from me.”

The group later opened up to law firms, giving them discounted access to a network of providers, community lunches, conferences, and more.

The Alliance has grown since its inception in 2020 to include over 40 law firms, whose members meet regularly across the country to help them step away from their desks, build friendships and network.

Mick added: “We’ve found lawyers often socialise within their business, but they very rarely get outside of that.

“That’s why our lunch events are popular. People can get out of the office and something comes of those conversations.”

The organisation has also recently partnered with legalCadre which helps law firms develop people focused strategies that enhance culture, engagement, and wellbeing.

Jane Gilchrist, director of legalCadre, said: “When your employees feel valued, included, recognised, and supported, they are motivated and productive.

“Creating a positive work environment creates a positive impact on connection, collaboration, engagement and wellbeing which in turn has a positive impact on how they interact with clients, and ultimately improves results.”

Advertisement