Business coach Hannah Beko shares why stress must be addressed in the legal profession

Hannah Beko

The legal profession needs to place a greater emphasis on helping lawyers manage wellbeing better, according to a business coach and author.

Hannah Beko suffered chronic stress and realised the impact it had on her career as a lawyer as well as her health and family life.

The mum-of-three, who now works for Legal Studio, decided that something needed to be done to help lawyers work smarter – not harder.

Her mission since 2016 has been to change the culture in law so that stress isn’t just accepted as part and parcel of the job, and no one is leaving a career they trained for years to join, because they can’t reconcile work and life.

Her new book The Authentic Lawyer is aimed at lawyers who are also struggling with high stress levels that being in the industry brings.

Hannah blames high stress levels in the law profession on the pressure to deal with billing, chargeable hours targets and utilisation figures among other tasks.

She 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.  The work is never done.

“Personalities that include people-pleasing tendencies 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.”

But with lawyers being told wellbeing is on the agenda, she wants to see if it really is.

Another major obstacle lawyers face is the problem of management buy-in, with junior staff tending to copy senior models who will continue to prioritise the billing and client work.

“We need to start investing in our people and understanding what support they need, then providing it,” Hannah added.

“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.”