A crisis of well-being – revisited

A crisis of well-being – revisited

well beingThe significant response on social media and debate caused by my article “Crisis of well-being” lead to our first report on well-being for in-house lawyers published in July 2015. The report drew on survey findings, interviews and focus groups which showed a shocking picture, which if representative of the in-house sector as a whole demonstrated that we are sleep walking to a crisis where some people were being significantly damaged and many more are being undermined.

...It is two years on from the article and I wanted to write about my experience since then.

Small steps…

The report has been widely read and a great many in-house lawyers and teams have started to address the well-being of colleagues individually and in teams. Some General Counsel now include the topic as a fixed agenda item in team meetings; others have sought out specific training and a few have found performance indicators that are part of personal development planning – making well-being a metric of success. It is not yet enough, but it is a great start and I am delighted to see such progress.

The report has also brought people into our world who offer significant and in-depth expertise of their own. So for example for former city employment lawyer Richard Martin, now with Byrne Dean has provided genuinely excellent, insightful and practical help to in-house teams. In my judgement his work should be a mainstay of the approach all teams take.

Richard had his own well-being crisis a few years ago and to hear him now present so brilliantly with such passion, expertise and authority on the issues he faced and overcame is truly inspirational. I have no financial interest in this, but in my opinion literally every team should have a session with Richard or someone like him.

So did we avert the crisis?

As a personal aside I have found the last two years very difficult. It is not easy to listen to some of the things I hear. More people contact us now seeking support because of the article and the report and more people need help than I ever realised.

It is therefore still a crisis in my opinion because we still barely scratch the service of what should be done; however ironically I am also more hopeful than I was too years ago. Then I felt I was one of only a very few people to see what was happening; now I know there are expert people like Richard Martin, charities like Law Care and a significant number of General Counsel who truly “get it” and from whom we can all learn.

The role of in-house lawyer will not get easier. Businesses and institutions employing lawyers will not necessarily understand the work pressures they create and which lawyers typically then manage poorly. The answer to our crisis therefore has to be one that we take into our own hands; thankfully I believe the answers are in reach.

 

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Ten practical steps on how to improve well being
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Every team, leader, manager and every individual lawyer really must step up and take responsibility for their own behaviours and for constructively challenging destructive environments and patterns of work. In the original report, I made ten recommendations on how to address and improve well-being that I believe still stand; they were written hoping they would make a difference, I now know they will make a difference.

Read the full report here

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A case study on well-being
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Claire Carless, GC and Company Secretary at Siemens plc, about what sparked her team’s conversation around well-being and the initiatives they have introduced to combat stress at work. Read the full interview here

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About the author:

Paul is Chief Executive at LBC Wise Counsel, a business he founded in 2000 working predominantly with in-house legal teams and General Counsel around the world.

His focus is on impactful one-to-one mentoring, career counselling, supporting the strategic purpose and operational efficiency of in-house teams, and on designing and delivering residential skills development and leadership programmes.

Clients include international energy conglomerates, global life sciences teams and major banks, as well as a range of FTSE and smaller UK teams. He has designed career development programmes, mentored General Counsel and supported over 100 law firm panel appointment processes.

Before LBC Wise Counsel, Paul qualified as a solicitor in the UK in 1987 and was an in-house lawyer for 12 years including as General Counsel to two UK financial services companies.

Paul has lectured in the US, South Africa and across Europe. He has written six books and published over 150 articles. He was for ten years a Trustee of LawWorks and has been a Law Society Council member representing the in-house sector.