Official Statement from the Council of Government regarding JLD’s concerns

Official Statement from the Council of Government regarding JLD’s concerns

On 13 February 2019, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales wrote a letter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority after recent decisions adopted by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and appeals to the High Court regarding junior lawyers.

Specifically, our official collaborator referred to Sovani James and Emily Scott cases. Both were struck off as solicitors despite having been bullied and pressured by seniors and subjected to oppressive management. 

We want to make something clear: the “Instituto de Salud Mental de la Abogacía – Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA-MHILP)” respects all institutions involved, regardless of our support to JLD.

Although these cases are out of our jurisdiction, the truth is that, after the internationalisation of the legal market, some Spanish law firms have offices or best friendship networks with other firms in England and Wales, and vice versa. 

For this reason, the JLD’s concerns are also us. Our colleagues are doing incredible work to improve solicitors’ well-being and mental health, and we are going to support them when they need it.

After this official letter, following the JLD’s concerns, our organisation is going to ask Spanish and Catalan bar associations the following questions:

a) What practical support and measures the Bar has in place for lawyers who are facing difficulties in raising their concerns in the workplace?

b) What is the Bar doing to ensure that organisations employing lawyers are being supportive and that these organisations do not have ‘toxic’ cultures in which lawyers feel unable to raise concerns or ask for help? 

At this moment, the ISMA-MHILP is changing its legal form and intern structure. Due to this circumstance, we will comply with this decision in the following manner: 

1. Approval of Board of Trustees whereby the manager will be able to send letters to Spanish and Catalan bar associations, asking them the questions as mentioned above. 

2. Creating a particular line of research within the Studies and Research Committee. 

Sincerely,

Council of Government of the ISMA-MHILP

The ISMA adheres to the UPF Legal Clinic as a collaborating entity

The ISMA adheres to the UPF Legal Clinic as a collaborating entity

On 12 February 2019, the Instituto de Salud Mental de la Abogacía – Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA-MHILP) joined the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) Legal Clinic as a collaborating entity.

“The Legal Clinic is a solidarity initiative of service-learning promoted by the Faculty of Law of the Pompeu Fabra University. The Clinic aims to make available to vulnerable people or groups the legal research of the UPF and the professional experience of prestigious lawyers, always free of charge.

The UPF model is structured on two levels. On the one hand, the Clinic provides a basic legal orientation service to people without resources who come, either directly or through a member NGO. Some instances of exceptional academic and social interest are admitted to a second level (tutored matters) in which the Clinic creates a work team made up of a doctor of law professor, three students in the final year of the Degree in Law and a lawyer expert in the subject who will assume the pro bono defense (free of charge)”.

The Legal Clinic is not a law firm, and the UPF does not institutionally provide any professional service of legal advice or defense in Courts. Lawyers who collaborate with the Clinic do so on an individual basis and under their responsibility, including those who are now part-time UPF professors”.

It should be noted that the adhesion of ISMA-MHILP as a collaborating entity to the Legal Clinic of the UPF does not imply any obligation for both parties. An adhered entity is “one that is interested in following the activities of the Clinic and wants to express its commitment to the defense of human rights and social justice.” Any initiative of this nature is therefore welcomed and supported by ISMA-MHILP.

Tomás Gabriel García Micó, vice-president of ISMA-MHILP and responsible for the section “Attention to citizenship” of the Clinic, stressed that “collaboration with the Pompeu Fabra University Legal Clinic is a great honor for ISMA-MHILP and constitutes a significant turning point for our activity as it will allow the necessary -and so often forgotten- symbiosis between the world of mental health -where multiple litigious issues are generated that, due to lack of means or resources, cannot be defended before the ordinary courts- and the academic and legal world. We hope that the collaboration between the Legal Clinic of the UPF and the ISMA-MHILP constitutes the beginning of an intense relationship of collaboration between both institutions. We would like to personally thank Professor Maurici Pérez Simeón, Director of the Legal Clinic, for the possibility he has offered us and congratulate him and the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Anna Caballé Martorell, for having promoted such a necessary initiative”.

For her part, Gabriela Boldó Prats, member of the ISMA-MHILP Well-Being Committee and responsible for the “Ethical and normative compliance” section of the Clinic, has said that “ISMA-MHILP and the Legal Clinic of the UPF collaborate to give visibility to a social, transversal and committed right where welfare and social needs count. We work together to improve these aspects of our reality. In this way, we will contribute to the mental health of the legal profession from another perspective. It has been proven that dedicating part of our effort to solidarity causes helps emotional well-being, so let’s transfer it to the university legal world”.

Chicago Med: When Mental Illness and Law collide

Chicago Med: When Mental Illness and Law collide

Marta Lopera Mármol

Vice President of ISMA

Director of Communications

Introduction

In the 10th episode of season 3 of Chicago Med (NBC, 2015-) the medical drama spin-off of the somewhat successful but not-so-good Chicago Fire (NBC, 2012-), medicine takes on a new turn when its juggled within legalities and mental illness. Before revealing any spoiler, I invite you to watch the clip which narrates the story I am going to analyze.

Synopsis  (*Spoiler Alert*)

In this Chicago Med episode, psychiatrist Dr. Charles is convinced something is off when Dr.Sara treats a man, Mr. Dietrick, that seems to have at first sight a minor injury due to a car hit. His particular assertion in the case is both unsettling and worrisome. As the episode goes on, Dr. Charles becomes convinced that the injured is not a mere accident but a suicide attempt, forcing him to hold Mr. Dietrick in the psychiatric ward against his will and despite his insistence that it was all an accident. By the end, Dr. Charles reveals that Mr.Dietrick suffers from endogenous depression and provokes Mr. Dietrick to reveal he stopped taking his anti-depressants meds.

Pros +

The episode effectively portrayals depression as a mental illness that can affect anyone, even the “perfect picture” person with a successful but also extremely demanding job which in this case and far from being a casualty turns out to be a lawyer. The fact, that the diagnosis is made by a character that has the legitimacy to do so since he is a psychiatrist allows to break in a sense the “stigma wall.” Doctors tend to be more “credible characters” and knowing the effects TV series can have on people, this type of diagnosis made by someone that “has the power to do so” might evoke those spectators that are suffering from depression or have similar symptoms to seek actual help. Therefore, turning this audiovisual piece into an edutainment[1] audiovisual product.

Furthermore, the diagnosis is concrete, showing the broad spectrum of particular mental illness such as depression. Also, it shows how mental illness is as important as physical. Dr. Charles quotes: “It is caused by your brain chemistry,” this is particularly relevant since hints not only a genetic predisposition but also a biological origin. The fact that the patient covers up his feelings as said in the TV series: “You become a Master of disguise” allows a realistic representation of patients affected by depression; the fear of stigma, the defensive attitude as said in the clip: “Englight me Dr. Freud”,  is a common attitude that is often a struggle psychiatrist suffer, and the guilt of the patient as Mr. Dietrick says: “ I have absolutely no excuse to be sad” and the great answer by Dr. Charles: “You don’t need an excuse man you are a human being” creates the imagery that mental illness is not something people choose to have or something to justify an act but instead is a clinical reality like any other.

In conclusion, the episode does one of the best declarations they can do that “depression is not a weakness,” and that it can be presented as many forms, leaving behind the stereotype of the depressed patient constantly crying and being sad. 

Cons –

Despite its reasonable efforts, the episode fails in three main aspects. Firstly, on representing a broader range of gender, class, and race. Is yet again presented by a white male of an upper-high class. Secondly, while depression does have a medication treatment that can be effective, usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Mr. Dietrick is experiencing suicide thoughts due to the fact that he stopped taking his anti-depressant medication which leads to the idea of what Stephen Harper (2009: 103) defines as “equilibrium-breakdown-recovery” and forgetting other aspects of recovery such as one on one therapy, group support, etc. and lastly, while depression is closely linked to suicide so are other illnesses such as bipolar disorder, PSTD, substance consumption i.e. drugs or alcohol, etc. (Estrada 2016). Suicide is a more complex and multifactorial phenomenon that the show represents.

References

Estrada-Rangil, Oriol. 2016. “Olive Kitteridge y la depresión”. In La medicina en las series de televisión edited by Toni de la Torre,  111-118. Barcelona:Cuadernos de la Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve.

Harper, Stephen. 2009. Madness, Power and the Media. Class Gender and Race in Popular Representations of Mental Distress. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

[1] Edutainment can be defined as the process of entertaining people at the same time as you are teaching them something through different mediums such as television series.

Day of celebration for Catalan lawyers

Day of celebration for Catalan lawyers

Photo credit: Organizers of the IV Congress of Catalan Lawyers

On 30 January 2019, the Official Journal of the Generalitat de Catalunya (DOGC no. 7799, of January 30th, 2019) published Resolution JUS/110/2019, of 22 January, amending the Regulations for Catalan Lawyers of the Council of the Illustrious Bar Associations of Catalonia.

This regulation, which was debated during the IV Congress of Catalan Lawyers (September 27th and 28th, 2018), recognizes for the first time the importance of the emotional well-being of lawyers in the exercise of their functions. In the sixth section of the Explanatory Memorandum, it states that:

“The new requirements of our profession in this new century make it highly recommendable to adopt measures for the emotional well-being of professionals. In this sense, the bar associations have to provide tools/mechanisms to the members to counteract the emotional situations/problems derived from the exercise of the profession and which put at risk the emotional well-being of the lawyer both in his professional and private sphere. Training in emotional intelligence, empathy, and active listening skills is also necessary both to be able to manage those emotions that can be harmful in the exercise of the daily tasks of the legal profession and to be able to notice the emotional state of the client and thus provide better advice and defense”.

But not just this. The Catalan legal profession has not remained a mere proclamation but urges bar associations and the Council itself to adopt measures in favor of emotional well-being. In this sense, the second additional provision of the Regulations for Catalan Lawyers establishes that:

“The bar associations and the Council shall foster the adoption of measures in favor of the emotional well-being of lawyers, providing them with tools or mechanisms to be able to counteract the emotional situations/problems derived from the exercise of the profession and which put their well-being at risk.”

ISMA’s participation in the Congress of Catalan Lawyers

The original proposal for the new Regulations for Catalan Lawyers did not contain any of these references. For this reason, the president of ISMA, in his capacity as a non-practicing member of the Illustrious Bar Association of Barcelona (ICAB), presented a series of amendments aimed at addressing this issue.

You can find the amendments in two links: in the post “Enmiendas al articulado de la Propuesta de Reforma de la Normativa de la Abogacía Catalana“, or in the pages 8 to 10 of the document of amendments prepared by the Catalan Bar Association.

Also during the Congress, Gabriela Boldó Prats, member of the ISMA Well-Being Committee, and Manel Atserias Luque had the opportunity to participate in the colloquium “Equilibrio en la profesión: El bienestar emocional en el ejercicio de la abogacía“, moderated by Jordi Albareda Cañadell, Dean of the Lleida Bar Association.

In the words of the president of ISMA:

“The Catalan legal profession has taken a very important step concerning the well-being of the profession. The simple fact of recognizing its relevance in the exercise of the profession is already a triumph for the collective. It is true that the Anglo-Saxon legal profession has a significant advantage for us, but we highly value both the gesture and the commitment you have made.

We want to thank the Council of the Illustrious Bar Associations of Catalonia for allowing us to participate in the Congress. If our contribution was useful in any way, we are satisfied.

Interview to Anna Gener Surrell

Interview to Anna Gener Surrell

Anna Gener Surrell

President and CEO of Savills Aguirre Newman Barcelona

1st Vice President of Associació 50a50

Trustee of the Fundació Museu Picasso

Member of the Board of Directors of the PIMEC (Patronal de la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa de Catalunya).

Member of the Executive Commission of Barcelona Global

Member of the Board of Governors of Círculo Ecuestre

Board-member of the Observatorio Mujer Empresa Economía de la Cámara de Comercio de Barcelona

Trustee of the Fundación Cares

Member of the Executive Committee of Barcelona Global

Member of the Board in Spain of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Member of the Advisory Board of the Instituto de Salud Mental de la Abogacía – Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA-MHILP)

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Gener Surrell, CEO of Savills Aguirre Newman, a powerful woman, a mother of a child, and, most importantly, one of the kindest persons we have had the pleasure to meet ever. She is highly aware on issues which are extremely important for the Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA), such as women’s empowerment, to foster women’s talent in decision-making positions, gender equality, and mental health.

On behalf of ISMA, I would like to thank her devoted work for the organization, and her openness to be interviewed.

1. How did your passion for architecture and painting come about?

Since I was a little girl, I felt very attracted by the contemplation of beauty in general, because I noticed that it improved my mood.

We find beauty in the different forms that works of art adopt; painting, architecture, sculpture… It is universal beauty because it has been admired, generation after generation, uninterruptedly for centuries.

But fortunately, beauty is also manifested, generously and abundantly, in our daily lives: in a mosaic, in a tapestry, on the façade of a building… I love stairs; they seem to me to be a precious architectural element.

Learning to recognize the beauty around us and to enjoy it to the full should be one of our vital priorities. Beauty is not something superficial, because it impacts us psychologically and can help us feel better.

“Talking about the relevance of architecture in our lives is as essential as talking about the importance of our physical and mental well-being. Buildings speak to us, challenge us, touch us deeply because, in addition to providing us with physical protection, they also impact us from a psychological point of view” (Architecture, 21.01.18)

2. To what extent does the architecture (of a building) influence the well-being of the workers of a company?

Architecture has a profound impact on us because it is the physical framework in which we develop to rest, work, train, relax, eat, love, have fun…

It is in workspaces that we should pay more attention, as it is an environment in which we spend many hours and where situations of tension can occur.

Several studies show that an adequate design of the workspace generates physical and mental well-being, propitiating happier, more committed, more self-demanding and more productive professionals.

Some aspects that must be taken care of are thermal comfort, acoustic insulation, ergonomics and care of the olfactory sense. Water treatment and consumption, air quality control and light management are also essential. All these elements have a very powerful impact on our mood and psychological well-being.

You say “referents are powerful.”

3. Which were yours?

Indeed, referents are fundamental because they can inspire us and give us the strength to achieve our goals.

I have been fortunate to have good role models around me; my parents and many of my trainers have provided me with excellent role models. In the last decade, my great reference has been my husband, who gives me a precious point of view.

Our society should be able to generate references of professionals who not only have professional success but above all, know how to enjoy their personal, family and social life; the vital spheres that make up a balanced existence.

Shortly before I turned 40, I began to feel an enormous responsibility towards younger women. I was aware that I had to help them achieve their goals and go as far as they set out to go. It was then that I began to get involved in various organizations that work to ensure that women participate in business decision-making spheres in a balanced way with their male colleagues. Reaching these spheres of power is an important milestone because they constitute the spaces from where you can change the things you don’t like and set in motion the projects in which you believe.

You spent six years working in two of the world’s most important financial auditors. Then you went to the world of real estate consulting.

4. Why did you decide to change your professional sector?

The auditor’s job involves following a procedure that is very defined, in a way, you represent a piece within a big gear. This forces you to be extremely compliant in your obligations because if you fail, the work of others will also fail. I have very good memories of this stage because I worked surrounded by people my age with profiles similar to mine, so I felt integrated very easily. But I don’t miss the long working days I endured.

In my humble opinion, requiring your professionals to work so many hours, sustained over time, is a very archaic way of managing a company, as there is an excellent drain of talent.

When I left auditing, I joined Aguirre Newman as a real estate investment analyst, convinced that I would develop a very financial type of work, similar to what I did when I was an auditor.

However, as soon as I started working, I realized it was a job that required important business and relationship skills. The point is that I felt comfortable behind my Excel, doing analysis, but I didn’t see myself with social skills. I spent several months thinking I had the wrong job. But little by little, I gained self-confidence as I achieved goals.

After a few months, I discovered, with great joy, that I was good at commercial and relational work. At last, I was able to relax and began to enjoy my work as I had never done before.

5. How do you manage stress and work under pressure in your daily life?

Periodically I suffer from stress peaks, which over the years I have learned to manage, paying a lot of attention to my physical and mental health.

I practice meditation and yoga regularly. I also listen to music, read, write and live a socially active life, which helps to fill me with energy and good humor.

Mental balance is an extremely delicate state for some personalities, especially when they are subjected to chronic stress. Despite the abundance of cases, mental illness and psychological disorders are still taboo in management environments.

From the Mental Health Institute (of Legal Professionals) you are doing an extraordinary job in this sense, because you make mental illness visible and you help to find the right channels to treat it. Legal professionals are fortunate to be able to count on you.

“The best boss is not the one who gets more customers or the one who has more knowledge of the business, but the one who has more emotional intelligence and knows how to treat the people around him properly.  The capacity for empathy and social interaction is an essential attribute so that the energy of the human team focuses on the objectives of the company, and is not wasted on internal misunderstandings” (Los jefes, 19.07.18).

6. What can we do to humanize companies?

Very often, business environments have been excessively focused on making profits, neglecting the value they brought to their clients and the treatment they gave to their professionals.

However, indeed successful companies have already realized that to attract the best talent, and thus get the best customers, they must look beyond the result and be governed by other values. They are those companies in which we would all like to work because we connect with them in a particular way.

To begin with, they love what they do; they have a high level of commitment to the work they do and carry it out with awareness and pleasure.

Secondly, they are companies that have made a deeper reflection and have set themselves a more complex challenge, beyond earning money; they also want to contribute to improving society.

But the essential thing about these organizations is that they take care of their human teams; they transmit values to them (ethics, professionalism, coherence, and humility), and urge them to do things in a certain way.

Taking into account the pressure and the fulfillment of the company’s objectives,

7. To what extent are you contributing to this humanization at Savills Aguirre Newman Barcelona?

Our organization operates in a highly competitive and demanding environment. I am aware that what is expected of me is to comply with the budget set by our shareholders.

However, we have always been clear that we wanted to work in a certain way; with ethics and with responsibility.

After the crisis, I realized that to be a good professional, I not only had to make sure that my company made money, but also that I had to get involved in generating a positive impact on my environment, without expecting anything in return.

For me, Barcelona’s social, economic and cultural progress is a firm commitment; for this reason, I collaborate with many associations and institutions in our city to which I dedicate time, energy and a great deal of enthusiasm.

“Just as 2017 was a disastrous year for me, 2018 is proving to be an extraordinary year” (Things you learn when you receive an award, 8.06.18).

8. Does saying publicly that something in your life, whatever it is, has gone wrong or has been a failure show weakness in a leader?

Quite the opposite; from my point of view, messianic leadership, with a strong and unquestionable figure that everyone follows, is an obsolete model.

Modern leadership is defined, firstly, by having a vision of what one wants to achieve and how to reach the goal set; and secondly, by being a close, inclusive, humble figure who recognizes mistakes and successes, who consults his decisions and seeks great consensus; he never shows his strength by imposing himself.

No essential objective can be achieved with the vision of a single person. The problems of society are so complex that they require that leaders rest on a group of people with diverse points of view, but with a specific mental connection.

I have never been afraid to show a different sensitivity or explain my failures or frustrations. I write about it often, and I publish it because I think I might be able to help someone who is in a similar situation. And the possibility that my experience might be useful to someone, I don’t know if it makes me stronger or weaker, but it certainly makes me feel infinitely better about myself.

Imagine that I want to work in your company, I show that I am a competent person and in the interview, I say: “Anna, I will do my best and work hard. But I may not be able to absorb all the work on certain occasions because I have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

9. What would your answer be?

First of all, I would congratulate you on your courage. The sad reality is that competitive business environments, such as consulting or law, are often hard contexts, where manifesting difference (mental, physical, spiritual) is very complicated because uniform and adaptive profiles are still valued.

Although the world is changing very quickly and adopting new values, business life continues to be anchored in dynamics that undervalue diversity, in such a way that professionals avoid showing their problems, illnesses and even their emotions, for fear of being discriminated against or of being considered weak professionals.

We have to change this poor business culture. The company is a pillar of society and must contribute to spreading the right values.

Being able to communicate with your employer that you have an OCD should not penalize you; we have to work so that business environments are humanized.

10. If you had to hire the legal services of a law firm, would you take into account their diversity and well-being policy when hiring them?

Without a doubt, I would take this into account. Unfortunately, there is still a little culture in this area, but I am convinced that in a few years, diversity and well-being policies will be a fundamental requirement when hiring. We must do what we can to speed up this process and ensure that these much-needed policies are put in place as soon as possible.