Legal expert Hannah Beko shares why wellbeing for lawyers must be addressed

Hannah Beko

Having suffered chronic stress and realising its impact on her career as a lawyer as well as her family life, Hannah Beko decided to act.

The mum-of-three, who works for Legal Studio, started to research the mental health of lawyers and found that in a survey by The Law Society, 95 per cent of those polled reported suffering from moderate to severe work-related stress – and that was in 2015, when law was deemed more stressful than being in the armed forces.

Since then, Hannah has taken strides to address stress in workplaces for other lawyers suffering with unbearable workloads.

Her mission since 2016 has been to change the culture in law so that stress isn’t just accepted as part and parcel of the job, and no one is leaving a career they trained for years to join, because they can’t reconcile work and life.

She’s now written a book called The Authentic Lawyer which she hopes will help other stressed lawyers, whilst she continues in her role as head of mission for Legal Studio in Manchester and Leeds.

Hannah blames high stress levels in the law profession on the pressure to deal with billing and chargeable hours targets, utilisation figures and write off explanations.

She said: “I was self-employed with no time recording, and no set targets. Very often my coaching clients who are looking for more work life balance, admit it’s not their firms asking them to work long hours, they have trouble switching off and calling it a day.  The work is never done.

“Character traits that tend to bring us into law include people pleasing, being a ‘yes’ person and perfection. These sorts of personalities have a higher likelihood of succumbing to stress and ultimately burnout.  Especially combined with a profession who saw finishing on time, taking your holidays, resting and recuperating, as laziness or a demonstration of a lack of commitment.”

She believes that the reason so many lawyers are leaving the industry is due to health and wellbeing, despite being told wellbeing is ‘on the agenda’.

But another major obstacle is management buy-in because if those higher up continue to prioritise the billing and client work, those they are a role model to, will copy.

“We need to start investing in our people and understanding what support they need, then providing it,” Hannah added.  “Not only is it the right thing to do, to look after our people, but happy lawyers are more productive lawyers and even provide a better customer service.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here