Lawyer Health and Wellbeing
How the Legal Profession is Tackling Stress and Creating Resiliency
Bree Buchanan, Emma Jones, Kate Dodd, Elizabeth Rimmer, Lubna Gem Arielle, Matt Dean, Kayleigh Leonie, Richard Collier, Paul Bennett, James Pereira
Recent years have witnessed growing concern internationally in wellbeing and mental health across the legal community, a shift reflected in a host of initiatives, networks, reports and research studies.
Changes to working patterns, generational shifts, and an increased interest in overall wellbeing have contributed to a growing movement towards better working practices - across all industries but particularly in high pressure professions such as law. The genesis of the lawyer wellbeing movement in the United States has spread to the UK, EU, Canada and Australia.
In this opening chapter, Bree Buchanan, chair of the ABA Commission, covers the 2016 research regarding lawyer and law student impairment that served as the catalyst for creating the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing. From this coalition of national organizations came the 2017 Report, which in turn launched a wide variety of national and state policy and practice innovations. Bree summarizes a snapshot of those developments.
Table of Contents
|About the authors||xi|
|Chapter 1: The lawyer wellbeing movement in the US||11|
|Why create a National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing?||11|
|How did the NTF start the lawyer wellbeing movement?||12|
|The lawyer wellbeing movement is launched||16|
|Chapter 2: Emotional competence for wellbeing||23|
|Why emotional competence?||23|
|Thinking about emotions||24|
|Thinking about other people’s emotions||26|
|Using emotions in managing others||27|
|Reflecting on your emotions||28|
|Coping with strong emotions||29|
|A proactive approach||29|
|Chapter 3: The Mindful Business Charter||31|
|A stroll back in time||31|
|Back to reality||32|
|A race to the bottom?||32|
|A meeting at Canary Wharf||33|
|A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step||34|
|The Mindful Business Charter is born||36|
|The first signing||37|
|So, what has actually changed?||41|
|Chapter 4: Culture and practice of law – creating lasting change||45|
|It’s not new||45|
|Going back to basics – what is wellbeing?||46|
|Why does mental health matter in the professional context?||47|
|The legal environment||49|
|Emotional competence – fit for law||50|
|About LawCare – our vision||51|
|Culture change – steps we can take now||52|
|Chapter 5: Conversations that matter||55|
|NILE – a model for conversations that matter||55|
|Background to the NILE model||57|
|“We all have mental health”||57|
|A definition of mental health||58|
|The mental health spectrum and workplace stress||58|
|NILE – a four-step model for conversations that matter||59|
|What if someone insists they are ok?||64|
|Note to the reader||65|
|Chapter 6: Creating psychological safety||67|
|What actually is psychological safety?||69|
|Building psychological safety – conversation by conversation||70|
|Do lawyers have the social sensitivity skills to do this?||73|
|Some rules might help?||74|
|There’s a much bigger problem – time!||75|
|Some further rules?||75|
|Chapter 7: Junior lawyers and mental ill health||77|
|Starting your career in law||77|
|Junior lawyer research||78|
|Negative stress experienced by junior lawyers||78|
|Mental ill health experienced by junior lawyers||80|
|Supporting yourself as a junior lawyer||81|
|Best practice in the workplace||82|
|Mentally healthy workplaces||83|
|Chapter 8: Anxiety in the legal community – a study of junior lawyers, legal practice, and legal education||89|
|Setting the scene – lawyer and law student wellbeing and mental health||90|
|The study: anxiety and wellbeing among junior lawyers – selected findings and themes||90|
|Chapter 9: Supervision without stress||101|
|Why is supervision stressful?||101|
|The aim of this chapter||102|
|My first love story – an introduction||102|
|Supervision is a skill||104|
|Supervision is a relationship||105|
|Set the standards||106|
|Beware of the micromanager||107|
|The basic process||108|
|My first love story – part 2||109|
|Chapter 10: Lawyers’ mental health, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, and the courts||111|
|The purposeful approach of the Courts||111|
|The UK’s Legal Services Act 2007||112|
|Fitness to Practise||113|
|Dishonesty and mental health||113|
|Case study: Daniel||113|
|Case study: Sovani James||114|
|The Court and the Regulators||116|
|Chapter 11: Wellbeing and the upskilling of lawyers – professional insights and practical applications||119|
|Failing to succeed||120|
|Wellbeing and the upskilling of lawyers||123|
|Chapter 12: When altruism is not enough – the economics of wellbeing in the legal profession||131|
|A continuous process||132|
|The cost of attrition||133|
|Investing in wellbeing||134|
It combines clear (and sometimes alarming) up-to-date data on lawyer wellbeing and mental illness, personal testimony of burnout from senior professionals, practical steps for individuals and organisations to enhance resilience, and an unanswerable case that those firms which put wellbeing at the heart of their business culture will be far better positioned to thrive, even in the current economic crisis.
The Law Society Gazette
Bree Buchanan is founding co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing and is a co-author of its ground breaking 2017 report, The Path to Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. Bree is chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs which works to ensure assistance is readily available for those in the legal community experiencing issues related to substance use or mental health issues. As director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program from 2013 until retirement in 2018, she regularly worked with individual lawyers experiencing these issues, and with legal employers who were seeking resources and support for their staff. Her tenure with that program followed a two-decade legal career that included positions as a litigator, lobbyist and law professor. She is now senior advisor with Krill Strategies, Inc., providing consultation on issues related to lawyer wellbeing and impairment for major legal employers.
Bree is a frequent speaker for international and national law-related organizations, as well as global law firms on strategies for lawyer wellbeing and impairment. In 2018, she was awarded the "Excellence in Legal Community Leadership Award" by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. She has shared her own story of recovery as a featured guest on podcasts in the United States and Canada, and her writing has appeared in Law Practice Today, Judicature and Family Lawyer Magazine. In 2018, she graduated from the Seminary of the Southwest with a Masters in Spiritual Formation, where she honed a deep interest in the intrinsic link between meaningful work and personal wellbeing, as well as in assisting individuals with vocational discernment. Bree tends to her own wellbeing by engaging in a regular meditation practice, cycling, rowing, and being willing to ask for help when she needs it.
Dr Emma Jones is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield Law School, developing modules on digital lawyering and lawtech. Prior to that she was a senior lecturer and teaching director at the Open University Law School. She is also a senior fellow of the Higher Education Authority and an associate academic fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. Emma's research focuses on the role of emotions and wellbeing in legal education and the legal profession. She is academic lead on the Fit for Law project, working with the charity LawCare, to provide free online resources for legal professionals promoting emotionally and psychologically healthier ways of working. Prior to moving into academia, Emma was a solicitor in private practice, specialising in construction law.
Kate Dodd is a diversity and inclusion consultant who has a particular interest in working collaboratively with business leaders to develop the business case for cultural change. Kate advises Pinsent Masons LLP and Brook Graham Ltd and their clients across the full range of diversity topics. Kate's interests include developing and embedding mental health and wellbeing strategies and helping businesses learn how to start conversations and reduce stigma. She has been heavily involved in founding and developing the Mindful Business Charter, which is a cross-industry set of principles, aimed at reducing unnecessary sources of stress and increasing wellbeing. The Mindful Business Charter has now been adopted by a number of leading law firms and financial services institutions. Kate is also passionate about supporting businesses achieve a better balance in relation to gender, race and ethnicity. She works with companies to develop strategies to attract and retain the best talent, and to cultivate the skills needed to serve their clients and communities. Kate is an employment lawyer by background, with 15 years' post-qualification experience specialising in equality, diversity and inclusion. Kate is an experienced advocate and represented her clients in Employment Tribunals across England, Scotland and Wales. Kate also assists her clients with practical diversity initiatives, including setting up mentoring and buddying schemes and delivering unconscious bias training. Kate is a member of the Employment Lawyers' Association, and a number of leading diversity networks.
Elizabeth Rimmer started her working life as a solicitor specializing in clinical negligence. She has been managing and developing charities in the mental health sector for over 15 years, and joined LawCare as chief executive in 2015.
LUBNA GEM ARIELLE
Kayleigh Leonie is a solicitor specialising in employment law and a trustee of LawCare, a registered charity that supports good mental health and wellbeing throughout the legal community. Kayleigh has undertaken research, written articles, and published best practice guidance for employers on supporting the wellbeing of their employees on behalf of the Law Society of England and Wales. Kayleigh holds regular roundtables for employers to share best practice on supporting wellbeing in the workplace.
Richard Collier FAcSS FRSA is a professor of law at Newcastle University, UK. He has published widely in the area of law and gender and has recently been the recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship in connection with the project Wellbeing, Law and Society: Politics, Policy and Practice. He is presently writing a book on wellbeing in the legal community for Cambridge University Press and has just conducted research funded by Anxiety UK (2018) into experiences of anxiety amongst junior lawyers. His previous work has addressed family law, fatherhood, criminology, the legal profession and legal education and research and books include: Men, Law and Gender (2010), Fragmenting Fatherhood: A Socio-Legal Study (with Sally Sheldon, 2008), Masculinities, Crime and Criminology (1998), Masculinity, Law and the Family (1995) and Fathers' Rights Activism and Law Reform (ed. 2007). Richard is an editorial board member of Social and Legal Studies: An International Journal.
Paul Bennett, partner at Bennett Briegal, is a specialist in both professional practice and employment law work. Paul is a nationally recognized expert who can help if the situation is challenging or potentially career-defining. Paul works across England and Wales, with London and Manchester dominating as the locations of key regulators.
James Pereira QC is a practising barrister and coach. He was called to the Bar in 1996 and took silk in 2014, and is a tenant at Francis Taylor Building, Inner Temple, London. He is the co-author of several leading textbooks in his field of practice, and listed as a leading QC in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners Directory of the UK Bar. As a coach, he works with individuals, teams and organizations. He is an NLP Master practitioner, a trained organizations, relationships and systems coach, and a member of the International Coaching Federation. He co-writes a regular column in The Lawyer, "Loving Legal Life", and is a regular public speaker in the field of leadership, wellbeing and performance in the legal profession. He is a co-founder of Gather Coaching (www.gathercoaching.com) and The Libra Partnership (www.thelibrapartnership. com).