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Emails at 2 a.m. and no respite on vacation: Lawyer reveals work-life struggles | New

Lawyers are still working until the early morning hours as the line between family life and work life blurs, a mental health conference said today. Anneli Howard KC, a lawyer at Monckton Chambers, told LawCare’s annual conference that emails and requests for advice still come in until 2 a.m.

She said there was ‘no respect’ for holidays and some lawyers still expect their colleagues and lawyers to be on call at all times. ‘It’s not enough to say we’re leaving: “away” has become the new terminology [if you want to be left alone],’ she says. “All the limits have changed and there seems to be no ability to take time outs and recover.”

Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said the service was getting more and more calls from lawyers struggling to balance work and family life, and she suggested it could be a hangover from the lockdown.

“While flexible working and the ability to be nimble have great benefits, we have seen that in the times of Covid people are working longer hours because they have more time to kill or there was anxiety about what would happen at work,” she said. . “Some of these behaviors have continued in this hybrid world where people have struggled to manage their limitations. There is work to be done to ensure the benefits of flexible working and that we don’t use this as an opportunity to put more pressure on people to have less life.

Earlier in the conference, Fieldfisher partner and LawCare volunteer Sam Jardine said the profession could re-evaluate established practices such as the adversarial system, partner rewards and billable hours to reduce the stress on lawyers working in cabinets.

‘[Billable hours] creates a culture that encourages people to work really long hours and raise fees as high as they can – I don’t think anyone has questioned whether that’s good value for the client,” he said .

Taking up the theme of workplace culture, SRA General Counsel Juliet Oliver revealed that the regulator’s dedicated team investigating bullying and discrimination in law firms is receiving approximately 400 requests each year. She stressed that the SRA was not interested in penalizing a mistake and urged companies to provide a “safe” space where staff feel they can admit their mistakes.

Oliver added: “There’s certainly an assumption that you can be resilient and successful in the blink of an eye and deal with the challenges that come with it… coping can end up being a sign of pride in the law.”

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