Introducing the Lawscot Wellbeing steering group, which aims to encourage more openness around mental health issues with the ultimate goal of achieving culture change in the solicitors’ profession

May 2018 saw the launch of Lawscot Wellbeing, a package of online resources designed to challenge the stigma around talking about mental health in our legal profession and champion best practice.

Rather than remaining a static set of complete information, it is designed to grow and develop, to adapt to the changing needs of the legal profession and provide the most up to date and advanced information. In order to support, facilitate and direct this ongoing growth, we established a steering group and recently held our first meeting.

By inviting key members to participate we have aimed to gather people who can successfully represent the cross-section of our profession, by using their networks which extend across different employers and areas of the country. It will be their job to inform the Society what the profession needs, where the problems are, and to propose how we might start to overcome them. The steering group is supported by the Society’s executive team, to enable their ideas and maintain momentum. 

Long-term goals

The group’s work will start with the ongoing promotion of Lawscot Wellbeing, to spread the message that looking after our mental health should stay at the forefront of the agenda in the years to come. Longer term, it aims to facilitate a culture change, so that the stigma is ultimately non-existent and those working in the legal profession can have honest and open conversations about their wellbeing in the workplace.

These are by no means small goals. As the group discussed, when an ear is put to the ground in the legal profession, the anecdotes that come back suggest there is evidence of an endemic problem. The legal profession is known for being high stress, the professionals who work in it perceived often as ambitious perfectionists. But this sets us on a collision course for some major potential breakdowns in the longevity of our colleagues’ careers and, in turn, our businesses.

So, we need our members and other individuals working in the legal profession to tell us what needs to happen next. How do we make our profession a healthier place to work? 

It’s good to share

We know it’s a big ask, but we’re appealing to you to be open with your colleagues. Can you share your story with the profession? The charity partners we are working with have recommended that sharing case studies, particularly from senior members of the profession, is one of the most powerful ways to get people to raise the profile of mental health. Feeling unwell can happen to all of us. It is not a sign of weakness and it should not be hampering anyone’s career development.

If you can share your experience, or even want to find out more, please do get in touch. If you need guidance of our partners, See Me is on hand to help. Get in touch at oliviaparker@lawscot.org.uk 

12-strong group

The current Lawscot Wellbeing steering group members are: Kenny Robertson, Royal Bank of Scotland (chair); Derek Cummings, Burness Paull; Amanda Masson, Harper Macleod; Sarah Prentice, Garden Stirling Burnet; Elaine Motion, Balfour+Manson; Catherine Hart, Digby Brown; Ivor Klayman, Caesar & Howie; Fiona Lewis, SAMH; Linda Adams, Anderson Strathern; Patty Lozano Cosal, See Me; John Scott QC; Trish McLellan, LawCare.

The Author
Olivia Parker is careers development officer at the Law Society of Scotland 
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