One in 6 solicitors bullied in the workplace, says Law Society

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According to the Law Society’s 2012 survey of the legal profession, 17% of Britain's solicitors have reported instances of bullying at work.

Set against the 16% in private practice, the percentage is higher for government solicitors (25%) and those in commerce and industry (23%).

Law Society Survey – bulling, harassment and discrimination

A first report of the survey has been presented to the Law Society’s board, which is now looking at an action plan to promote its members' wellbeing. The Society has acknowledged that cases of bullying and discrimination are too common.

Some 1600 lawyers took part in the survey, of whom 6% said they had experienced sexual harassment and 168 (just over 10%) reported discrimination.

Of these, almost 64% said the discrimination was because of gender, 20% of age, 20% of ethnicity and 19% of social class. Other factors were religion, physical health, pregnancy and sexual preferences.

Although just 2% of practising certificate holders said stress had forced them to take time off work over the past year, a bare 5% denied negative stress at work, with 65% reporting moderate or severe stress and 4% recording extreme stress.

The Law Society’s corporate responsibility specialist Kate Walmsley said that reported instances of bullying, harassment, stress and discrimination are "clearly too high".

In a paper to the board, Ms Walmsley said that while cases were not substantially higher than in other businesses, a strategy to look into and support members facing workplace problems is important to reducing the financial and reputational impact on the Society and the profession in general.


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