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New wellbeing book launched for lawyers

Healthy justice depends on healthy lawyers, says author

19 May 2016

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A new book, A Lawyer's Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress, was launched last night to raise awareness of the mental health challenges lawyers face.

Author Angus Lyon, a lawyer and a psychodynamic counsellor, addressed an audience of lawyers and supporting organisations at Linklaters in London.

The book contains guidance tailored specifically to lawyers to help them better manage stress.

According to a Law Society survey, two in three lawyers are concerned about reporting stress to their employer because of the stigma involved.

Speaking to SJ after the event, Lyon said he hoped the event would be a springboard to addressing the wellbeing challenges lawyers face.

'I'm encouraged by the increasing awareness of and willingness to think about mental health in the workplace,' he said.

'The timing of the launch in Mental Health Awareness Week, shortly after the announcement on Monday that a wellbeing taskforce is being set up to facilitate discussion and action across the legal professions, may be a sign of things to come.

'If the book goes some way to inform thinking around the wellbeing challenges the profession faces, and gives lawyers some practical pointers to being happier and more fulfilled, then it will have done its job. As it says in the book, "healthy justice depends on healthy lawyers".'

LawCare, the charity that provides support to the legal community, teamed up with Linklaters and the book's publisher Ark Group to host the event.

Jonathan de Lance-Holmes, a partner at Linklaters, told attendees how he overcame a period of depression and anxiety to have a successful career as a City lawyer.

LawCare's chief executive, Elizabeth Rimmer, said it was vital that similar experiences were heard to conquer the stigma attached to mental health issues.

'What the evening brought home to me is the power of stories, and the importance of sharing them. If we are going to raise awareness, and tackle these issues in the legal community, we need to tell our stories in order to develop recognition and support,' she said.

'This is the way we can start to overcome the isolation and stigma often associated with mental health concerns, and create an environment in the legal community where wellbeing is as important as all the other aspects of a career in the law.'

The launch marked another significant development in Mental Health Awareness Week, which has seen a series of initiatives implemented to promote and support mental wellbeing in the profession.

The Law Society and LawCare have launched a new Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce while the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has launched a new initiative, 'Your health, your career' to raise awareness of the support available to solicitors.

Paul Philip, the SRA's chief executive, said: 'As the regulator, we want to make sure solicitors are properly supported to do the best job they can. That means making it as easy as possible for people to let us know if things are getting difficult, and to find the right support at the right time.

'We can provide a dedicated person to work with, talk regularly, look at extending deadlines when we can, signpost to help, and communicate in a way that suits best.'

Philip added that the SRA wanted to ensure it was understanding and sensitive to the needs of those under investigation by the regulator.

'The number of solicitors we investigate is, of course, very small, but we know just how stressful it can be and all the more so if someone is unwell.'

A Lawyer's Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress can be purchased here.

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