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Legal sector “one of the worst” for workplace culture

Mental health: Affected by negative culture

The legal sector is “one of the worst across the board” for workplace culture, a report has found.

Compared to other sectors, it was found to be particularly bad for employees leaving jobs because of a poor workplace culture and saying a negative culture had damaged their mental health.

However, when it came to bullying, harassment and discrimination − all of which have regularly been highlighted as problems in the legal profession – the legal sector performed better than sectors such as healthcare and insurance.

Workplace reporting platform Culture Shift based its comparative study on responses from 1,000 employees, 100 of whom worked in the legal sector.

It came top of the table by 10 percentage points when it came to employees who had previously left a job due to a bad workplace culture.

More than half of legal sector staff (55%) had done this, compared to 45% of those in banking, 42% in insurance, 41% in healthcare and 35% in the public sector.

At 52%, law was also top for employees saying a problematic workplace culture had impacted their mental health, followed by healthcare (48%) and the public sector (39%).

The law came out worst in three further related areas: half of legal employees (50%) said bad workplace culture had impacted their productivity, 38% said they were “less engaged with their job due to the company having a bad culture”, and a third “wouldn’t share their concerns in employee annual surveys”.

Researchers commented: “On workplace culture in general, the legal sector was one of the worst across the board, which is likely not a shock to those in the industry, where high levels of pressure have long been impacting employee wellbeing and studies have shown chronic stress among lawyers is increasing by over 70% every four years.”

However, when it came to staff who had “experienced problematic behaviour (such as bullying, harassment or discrimination) at work”, the legal sector was second from bottom with 38%.

Healthcare was the worst (52%), followed by insurance (48%).

The legal sector performed even better when employees were asked if they had “witnessed problematic behaviour”, such as bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Healthcare and insurance again led the way, with 48% each, compared to only 29% in the law.

A major study by lawyers’ welfare charity LawCare, published last month [1], found that over 69% of legal professionals had experienced mental health problems in the previous year, while 22% said they had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination in the workplace.