Emotional competency and the law

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week: stress. Chief executive of LawCare, Elizabeth Rimmer, wants to prevent stress from occurring where possible, and to do this she believes we need to help lawyers understand and manage their emotions.

Some think there is no place for emotion in the law and believe emotions interfere with rational thinking.  Many believe that emotions should be put to one side at work, but emotions do affect how people feel and act and the legal profession is no exception. Emotions drive us to care about the decisions we make and motivate how we respond to situations.

Emotional competency is about how we understand and handle our emotions as well as identifying and interpreting emotional responses around us. Emotions affect your actions, decision-making, reasoning, thought processes and judgement.

The issue of “Emotional Competency in the Legal Profession: An Educational Perspective” was discussed at a special roundtable discussion on 10 May held by the Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce at the University of Law. This is a cross-profession taskforce set up in 2016 to promote and support good mental health and wellbeing across the legal community.

A panel of academic experts and representatives from professional and regulatory bodies including Helen Whiteman, CEO of CILEx Regulation, and Noel Inge, Managing Director of CILEx Law School, discussed emotional competency, why lawyers need it and what can be done to better support them in this area.

The panel concluded that teaching those studying and training to be lawyers in emotional competency, a change in culture from the top in law firms and chambers , upskilling those in practice with targeted resources and better collaboration between regulators and educators are all needed to combat the growing problem of stress in the legal profession as well as to ensure its sustainability in the future.

It was fantastic to bring experts from across the industry together to discuss this issue and we hope it will lead to greater collaboration, as well as all sectors looking at what they can do to ensure legal professionals are emotionally competent.


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