Why wellbeing needs to be top of the agenda, by lawyer Hannah Beko

Hannah Beko

A practising lawyer and mum-of-three turned author is calling for wellbeing to made high priority in the law industry.

Hannah Beko suffered with chronic stress and soon realised the impact it had on her legal career, health and life.

She wanted to do more to help other lawyers in the same position, to help them get a better work-life balance so she started to research the mental health of lawyers.

A poll by the Law Society in 2015 found that 95 per cent of those quizzed had suffered from moderate to severe work-related stress – at a time when a career in law was considered more stressful than working in the emergency services.

Hannah, who is currently working in a new role as head of mission for Legal Studio solicitors, believes that the main cause for high stress levels in the industry is the pressure to deal with billing and chargeable hours targets, utilisation figures and write off explanations. 

In her new book The Authentic Lawyer, Hannah tells workers exactly how to get more from their lives and careers without working harder.

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

Hanna said: “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 because their 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.”

Secondly, she blames management buy-in because if those higher up continue to prioritise the billing and client work, those they are a role model to, will do the same. 

Hannah is rallying for more investment in people, understanding of the support they need and providing it.

“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,” she added.

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