Your health, your career

Published 19 May 2016

We recognise that life as a solicitor can be challenging. The demands and pressures can easily build and make you feel like things are getting on top of you.

We appreciate there are times when you may need support and assistance, particularly if a disability or health problem is making things harder for you.

How we can help

Your health and wellbeing is important. Talk to us if you are having difficulties and have concerns about your work. If you do not address these, it is easy for matters to spiral out of control.

We can talk through any issues and may be able to offer help and guidance. Alternatively, we can try to point you in right direction and suggest other options.

For example, we may be able to:

  • talk things through with you in person rather than through letters or emails
  • give you a little more time to respond to our queries or questions
  • arrange for someone to help you deal with our various processes.

Professional Ethics

Talk to one of our Ethics advisers either on the phone or on web chat (web chat is usually available during business when you visit the SRA Handbook or Ethics guidance). They are there to provide you with guidance on all matters relating to the Handbook.

Bespoke service for small firms

A dedicated team can help you face the challenges of running a small firm. Use our call-back service to discuss any regulatory matters.

Support and guidance if we are investigating you

We understand that it can be stressful and daunting if we are investigating you. If you are also experiencing health problems or have a disability, this can make things even harder for you.

Talk to your contact person at the SRA, as they could look at ways we could make things a little easier by changing the way we usually do things. For example you may:

  • need extra time to respond to us
  • need us to talk through the process with you
  • prefer to talk over the phone rather than communicate via written correspondence
  • need help closing your practice

Please tell us about your issues so that we can discuss the options with you.

Our reasonable adjustment policy can provide further information.

Real stories of how we have helped

Dealing with just one person at the SRA

What were the issues?

Mr T's firm was being shut down. We were working with him to make sure this was done properly. However, there was an outstanding issue that our Supervision team was dealing with, and a third team was liaising with Mr T about charges and funds.

He contacted us to say that he was suffering from depression and this was all getting too much for him. He explained that he found it stressful dealing with the various departments on different matters and was struggling to keep on top of it all.

How did we help?

We offered Mr T one point of contact—someone he could call or email at anytime. We explained that this might cause delay, as the person would need to speak to the different teams to share information or get answers to his questions. He was happy with this and it was agreed that his SRA contact would call him once a week (on a specified day and time) to update him and pass on any key information. Mr T felt he was able to handle the situation much better this way and was more in control of the situation.

Small firms advice

What were the issues?

Mr X was a sole practitioner who had run his own business for 40 years. Due to serious illness, he had not been able to keep on top of his practice and had stopped working for long periods of time. Ultimately, he realised he could not continue practising. He was finding the whole situation overwhelming. He did not know how to proceed or where to get help.

How did we help?

Mr X contacted our small firms helpline for advice, and our dedicated team talked through his issues with him.

We were able to outline his options and prepare a plan for him. We then called Mr X every fortnight to help him stay on track and answer any queries he might have. We also arranged a visit to his office on his request to make sure he had the correct documentation for us.

Mr X found the closing down plan very helpful, as it focused his mind on the key actions and made sure he did not miss anything important. He also appreciated the regular contact with us and was able to close down his practice properly without putting his health at further risk.

Requesting information following a complaint

What were the issues?

Following a complaint, we wrote to Miss D and asked her for information to help with our inquiry. When we did not hear back from her, we visited Miss D's practice and discovered she had been unwell for some time.

She told us she had family problems and was going through a divorce. Miss D was also seeing her doctor about her anxiety and stress.

How did we help?

Once Miss D gave us her medical evidence, we agreed to put our inquiry with her on hold for a limited period, with monthly contact. After six months, she was feeling much better and was able to help us.

Struggling to pay fees

What were the issues?

Mrs R called us in distress to explain that she could not pay her firm fees due to financial difficulties. She also felt she may have to close her practice.

How did we help?

We told her about the help offered by the Solicitors' Assistance Scheme (SAS) and how to get in touch with SAS. We also talked her through paying her fee and referred her to our website, which outlines sources of help and assistance should she need it in the future.

Mrs R was grateful for the information and said wished she had contacted us sooner. She said was pleased to know where to get help should she need it again.

Other support available

Several agencies exist specifically to help and support lawyers.

LawCare

An advisory and support service for lawyers, their staff and immediate families facing health problems: Its helpline is free and completely confidential. LawCare has helped thousands cope with issues such as stress, workplace bullying, disputes with colleagues and alcohol misuse. 

Solicitors' Assistance Scheme

This service offers free confidential help and advice for all solicitors on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional—providing a fellow practitioner who will listen and help. 

Solicitors' Benevolent Association

This is an independent charity working for solicitors, both past and present, and their families. Every year, it helps hundreds of people of all ages who are in serious financial need as a result of illness, accident, redundancy or other adversity.

The Law Society Practice Advice Service

The Practice Advice Service offers free, confidential support and advice on legal practice and procedure.

Lawyerline

You can call for advice on client care and complaints handling, including:

  • how to resolve complaints directly with your clients
  • how to deal effectively with the Legal Ombudsman.

Equality Representative Groups

Solicitors have set up groups to support their fellow solicitors. These groups are independent from us and represent people from various backgrounds. They may be able to offer practical advice and peer support. Please contact them direct to see how they may be able to help.

Charities

Mind

Information and support about mental health problems

Samaritans

Support and guidance to help with issues such as financial worries, stress, depression, suicidal feelings

Healthcare

NHS

Advice and support on stress, anxiety and depression

Please use www.sra.org.uk/support to link to this page.

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