Wellbeing and the Legal sector as discussed at the Legal RM Network

Lawyers working in firms have the lowest health and wellbeing of all white-collar workers and 76% of solicitors feel that stress/mental wellbeing in the legal sector is a major issue. 

These are just some of the sobering facts Russ Martin, Resource Management Lead for EMEA and Wellbeing Lead at Ashurst, presented to the room at the latest Legal RM Network event which explored how resource management practices can impact wellbeing.  

Russ went on to uncover important indicators of depression that management and colleagues should be mindful of including but not limited to; unusually high absenteeism, difficulty to meet reasonable deadlines, and making statements of self-worthlessness. 

Legal Resource Management practices can help to ensure work is allocated fairly and evenly with capacity in mind. Russ highlighted how this can help to reduce employee burnout. However, he stressed that everyone has a role to play in ensuring the wellbeing of others including senior leadership, management, as well as the wider team.    

Network members joined the conversation by responding to the following questions in groups. Here were some of their key points. 

Is employee wellbeing a focus for firms at the moment?  

  • While law firms have made great strides to improve employee wellbeing, there is still a long way to go to embed internal processes and cultures that put the mental health of employees at the fore.   

Is mental health training effective and who should be priority for this type of training? 

  • Mental health training is crucial and should be rolled out to all employees within a firm regardless of seniority or responsibility.  
  • An increasing number of clients are asking for information about firms' wellbeing practices and how they are enforced.  

Where should the ultimate responsibility lie for employee wellbeing – line managers, senior management, HR, or RM? 

  • Wellbeing initiatives and a supportive company culture need to be driven by senior management then formalised by HR. Resource Managers are often the first point of contact for Associates and become a sounding board for concerns. 
  • However, it is everyone’s responsibility to support their colleagues, look out for signs of concern and enforce good wellbeing practices within the workplace.  

How can firms ensure wellbeing of their people? What steps do you see firms taking? 

  • Resource Managers and work allocation practices have a key part to play in ensuring an appropriate level of work is allocated to each associate, thus preventing burnout.  
  • Firms can incorporate time off in lieu to alleviate Associates during busy periods. They can mandate mental health training to equip employees with the tools they need to look out for warning signs.  
  • Firms can sign up to the Mindful Business Charter. This is a framework that encourages those in the legal and banking professions to recognise areas of avoidable stress, and work together to reduce it. 

How can company culture effect and contribute to employee wellbeing? 

  • An inclusive and considerate company culture should be driven by the top to encourage each member of the firm to be mindful of the wellbeing of others.  

Wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility. This was the core message that was echoed by Russ and Legal RM Network members alike. We all have a part to play in ensuring the wellbeing of those around us. 

The Legal RM Network is a community that’s been created by BigHand exclusively for legal Resource Managers and their teams working in law firms. With resourcing roles still in relative infancy, this network aims to connect Resource Managers with a supportive and collaborative community where they can share ideas, discuss challenges, and learn from their peers on an ongoing basis.  

Join the LinkedIn group to hear about upcoming events.  

About BigHand Resource Management

BigHand Resource Management is a legal work allocation tool that allows law firms to identify resources, forecast utilization, manage workloads and add structure to career development for lawyers. The solution delivers real-time visibility of team availability, improved profitability on matters and supports DEI goals and equitable allocation of work.

BigHand Resource Management