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‘Emotional competency for lawyers’ course launched

Jones: Emotional competencies are key to working effectively

Legal mental health and wellbeing charity LawCare has teamed up with the Open University to launch an online resource on emotional competency and professional resilience.

The aim of the free ‘Fit for Law’ course [1] is “to help support emotionally and psychologically healthy ways of working within the legal profession”.

It was developed based on evidence from focus groups with legal professionals across the UK and Ireland.

The course is made up of three parts – managing and understanding yourself, working with others, and an employer and stakeholder toolkit – although only the first is live at the moment.

Each part should take two to four hours in total to complete, and includes videos from legal professionals discussing wellbeing issues, as well as a range of interactive tasks.

Speaking in the introductory video for the course, Dr Emma Jones, a senior lecturer in law who this month moved from the Open University to Sheffield University, said: “Traditionally, in law, emotions have been seen at best as irrelevant and at worst as a distraction from legal practice.

“However, there is a sound body of evidence to demonstrate that emotional competencies are key to working effectively and productively, to meeting the standards and competencies required of legal professionals, and to maintain your own mental wellbeing in what can be a challenging and difficult environment.”

LawCare chief executive Elizabeth Rimmer said: “We know from our work in supporting lawyers for over 20 years how difficult it is for lawyers to admit they are struggling with the pressures of work – which often leads them to seek help when they are nearing crisis.

“We want to change this. Providing legal professionals with resources to enable them to understand and develop key emotional competencies such as emotional self-awareness, self-reflection and better strategies for emotional self-regulation will equip them more effectively for practice, enhance their wellbeing and potentially reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression.”

The resources are available to everyone studying law or working in the legal profession in the UK and Ireland, and LawCare said they could be used as CPD in some jurisdictions.

There is also a closed ‘Fit for Law’ Facebook group, which people can join anonymously.