Why law firms should encourage their employees to participate in physical activities

By Calum Pakey, Trainee Solicitor at Legal Futures Associate Express Solicitors

Law firms are known for their fast-paced, high-stress and demanding work environments. The pressure to meet tight deadlines, handle complicated cases, and manage client expectations can be overwhelming. However, an emerging trend in the legal industry is proving to be a game-changer when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and enhancing employee performance: encouraging employees to participate in sports and physical activities.

In this blog, I will explore why law firms should actively promote sports and physical wellness among their employees, and the numerous benefits this can bring to both individuals and to the firm.

Lawyers often work long hours, have a poor work-life balance, manage heavy caseloads and work to meet challenging deadlines and billing targets. The stress and anxiety that can build from these pressures are well-documented. In 2021 the legal mental health organisation ‘LawCare’ released the results following their research into the wellbeing of legal professionals. The charity organisation collected data from over 1,700 workers in the legal sector.

Statistics confirmed that 69% of the participants had suffered from mental ill-health in the previous 12 months. The study data also indicates that legal practitioners face a significant risk of burnout. Engaging in physical activities is an excellent way to combat work-related stress. When people exercise, they release endorphins which are natural mood satisfaction boosters. Exercise has also been linked to the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate mood. These can mitigate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Encouraging employees to do physical exercise can lead to a positive and supportive work environment where mental health is a priority, leading to increased job satisfaction and overall contentment.

Sitting at a desk for long hours can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which is detrimental to physical health. Encouraging employees to exercise helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle, improve cardiovascular fitness, and build strength. It can also reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, all of which can negatively impact an employee’s well-being and performance.

Law firms can promote physical health by organising a wide range of activities for employees to take part in such as: on-site gyms, organising fitness classes, providing yoga sessions, organising group walks and even sponsoring employees to participate in local sports leagues. Going for a short walk during a break can counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting, by relieving the strain on your back and neck. The use of standing desks is another way to improve posture and alleviate back pain, as it ensures a more upright position. The advantages of having a healthier, more active workforce are that the employees are less prone to illness and absence, which benefits the firm’s bottom line.

As well as having individual mental and physical health benefits, encouraging employees to partake in group exercise is also a way of breaking down barriers with colleagues, and can lead to more effective teamwork. Working well in a team is a key component of any law firm’s success. Legal professionals often work in teams, whether it’s preparing for a trial, coordinating with clients, or collaborating with colleagues whilst working together on complicated cases. Sports and physical activities can be used to provide a platform for team building and adopting a sense of camaraderie among employees.

Participating in team sports, such as netball or rowing, helps develop essential skills of communication, cooperation, and mutual trust. These skills are directly transferrable to the workplace, where collaboration is essential for delivering successful outcomes to clients. The bonds made whilst engaging in sports can translate into more efficient and cohesive teams in the office. For example, after regularly attending the weekly football game organised by Express Solicitors, I found it easier to approach my colleagues in the office and maintain positive working relationships. It has also been an opportunity to expand my network with people who work in other departments and areas of law.

Supporting physical exercise across the workforce can make a firm more attractive for potential employees. Interested workers may view the firm as one that values the well-being of its employees and is committed to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In a competitive industry like law, attracting and retaining top talent is essential for a firm’s success. Many individuals, particularly millennials and younger generations, prioritise work-life balance and overall well-being when choosing an employer. Firms that encourage sports participation and prioritise their employees’ physical and mental health are more likely to appeal to top prospects, thus improving a firm’s overall performance and competitiveness in the legal market.

How we integrate physical activity at Express Solicitors

Express Solicitors provides funding for employees to participate in a variety of physical activities. Employees at the firm can take part in the netball team, a weekly 6 aside football game, charity runs, an annual ‘Northenden Boat Race’, and the ‘Tour de Manc’ bicycle race. The firm also has table tennis available and encourages employees to take up the ‘cycle to work’ scheme. Since 2022, Express Solicitors has sponsored a local grass root Sunday league football team.

Jake Cullen from Express Solicitors shared ‘not only does taking part in the weekly football game organised by Express have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, it has also been a fantastic way to meet colleagues. In 2022 the team took part in a charity football tournament and reached the final. Working towards this shared goal brought us together as a team, which can be felt in the office as it has made for a positive working environment. It has also been a great way to meet new members of staff and help them integrate with the rest of the firm’.

Law firms have much to gain by encouraging their employees to participate in sports and physical activities. The benefits of reduced stress improved physical and mental health and team building can have a profound impact on individual productivity and the overall success of the firm. Creating a culture that values mental well-being and physical health, law firms can position themselves as more attractive employers, and ultimately, achieve better outcomes for their clients.


Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.
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