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We at LawCare have had a busy and exciting start to the year and we’re all looking forward to a productive and successful 2018.
Our first volunteer training day for all our UK and Irish volunteers took place last weekend in Birmingham. We brought together all our Helpline Volunteers and Peer Supporters, both experienced and new, with our staff, to get to know each other, share experiences and learn more about the work we do in LawCare. The day explored the common issues that can affect lawyer mental health and wellbeing alongside some specialist training to support our volunteers in their roles. We were delighted that 25 of our volunteers joined us. If you would like to volunteer for us then email firstname.lastname@example.org
I am very excited to announce our new partnership with the Open University (OU) to develop educational materials on lawyer emotional health which will be available on our website later this year.
We want the input of the legal community to ensure these resources are developed in response to your needs. The OU will be facilitating a focus group in Ireland as follows:
Thursday 22 February 4-6pmThe Law Society of IrelandBlackhall PlaceDublin 7D07 VY24
If you are a legal professional at any stage of your career, we would be really pleased to have you participate, please email Anna.Buttimore@lawcare.org.uk to register your place.
You may have come across the recent decision from the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in England and Wales, published this month, where a junior lawyer was not struck off for her dishonesty. The Tribunal took account of her mental health, the pressure she was under to meet her billing target and the toxic environment within the firm. This case provides much food for thought and raises some fundamental questions about the culture and practice of law and how this can compromise lawyer wellbeing. We all need to work together to challenge working environments where staff don’t feel able to be honest with colleagues - about their health, or that they are struggling with their workload or that they have made a mistake. We need to shift the culture from a fear of making mistakes or being found out to one where when something goes wrong the question is ‘ how did that happen and what can we do about it? Had this young lawyer had better support and felt able to be honest she may not have found herself in this situation.
We said good bye to Yvette Murphy at the end of last year, who developed our communications over the last 22 months in a consultancy role and we have said hello this month to Gemma Matthews, who has joined our staff team as Communications Manager. Gemma will be building on the work done over the last few years to raise our profile so that more lawyers know we are here for support and to raise awareness about why mental health matters in the legal community. Although we saw an 11% increase in calls to the helpline in 2017, not enough people know we are here - and we need to do something about that.
We are looking forward to 2018 - this year we particularly want to work more closely with our stakeholders and volunteers and develop new partnerships to champion mental health in the legal community. We are always interested in hearing from you so do get in touch by emailing me at email@example.com