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.

Interning at the Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions

Interning at the Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions

Mckenzie Cross

Six weeks ago I landed in Barcelona, Spain for the very first time in my life. I came from a very small town of only two-thousand people on the west coast of the United States. To say that I was surprised and overwhelmed by the size of this city would be an understatement. I was immediately surprised by the kindness of the people in Barcelona. I don’t know Spanish or Catalan at all and was expecting to struggle a lot more than I actually did. I quickly learned how to manage the public transportation service; which I was terrified of getting lost on. However, the love that grew inside me for this town is deep. I came to Barcelona to gain experience in the Psychology field, and I am leaving with more than I ever thought I would have learned.

Upon arrival, I chose to work with the Mental Health Institute of Legal Professional. The organization works very hard to bring knowledge and awareness to the mental health and illnesses that consume those working in the legal profession, such as judges, lawyers, and law students. While being here, I wrote many articles about the members on the advisory board of the company. There are many important people from all over the world on the advisory board, and I was privileged to have gotten to know about them. While doing this, I learned some of the statistics that lawyers and law students have to face when it comes to mental illnesses. An astounding twenty-eight percent of lawyers have depression. That is four times the national average. Doing the math, that means that 365,000 lawyers have depression. That is larger than the population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An even scarier number, eleven and a half percent had suicidal thoughts, that is five times the national average. I was able to learn many other statistics, and each time it broke my heart. Another important thing to recognize is that this is happening all over the world. Not one country or company is being affected but the entire world.

Along with learning statistics among the legal community, I had opportunities to further my growth in the profession and to network among other members of the field. I attended a conference in Girona, Spain with the team that I have been working with. At this conference, I was able to meet and listen to the stories shared by others working hard to bring the same awareness of mental health in their cities and countries. One that very much helped me was listening to the presentation of David Jaffe. He works as a dean of students in the United States and is seeing that same higher mental illness statistics among law students. Hearing his input to the situation along with some actions that people might be able to take helped to open my eyes to different possibilities within this field of work. As a psychology student, I wanted to find a new perspective here and to hear different stories and ways to help people.

I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with such a passionate organization. The members worked hard every day to include me and help me grow and learn within the psychology field. I only had six weeks here in Spain, and it wasn’t even close to the amount of time that I wished I could have had. This association and similar organizations all over the world still have many more years of battling to do before they start to see a significant result happen. It will be a long journey, but an important and passionate one it will be as well. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Manel and his team and to have gained the knowledge and skills that I have while being here in this amazing city.

Interview to Mª Eugenia Gay Rosell

Interview to Mª Eugenia Gay Rosell

President of the Barcelona Bar Association

Vice President of the General Council of Spanish Bar Associations

 

A female benchmark in Barcelona’s legal profession

I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Eugenia Gay Rosell, President of the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB). Before getting into the matter, I would like to explain briefly who our first interviewee is.

Maria Eugenia graduated in Law from the University of Barcelona-CEU Abat Oliba 20 years ago. Later, she completed her Master’s Degree in Mediation at the ICAB. She decided to study Law and practice as a lawyer “because of her personal vocation and commitment to the defence of the rights and freedoms of citizens”.

She has been a member of this corporation since 2000. Apart from being the president and a lawyer, Maria Eugenia is the mother of four children: Álvaro, Gabriel, Jose María and Víctor.

On behalf of ISMA, I would like to thank the President and her communication team for their attention and kindness in managing the interview reproduced below.

Emotions

After setting up the Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions, I have had the opportunity to speak with many lawyers in order to get to know their day to day lives. Many of them agree that they cannot express their emotions in front of their clients or colleagues because they are afraid of being discriminated against or of being considered weak professionals.

1. Why do you think lawyers are afraid of expressing their emotions in front of their clients or peers?

Citizens turn to lawyers for advice, to resolve their conflicts and to defend their interests before the courts.

As this is a professional relationship, the lawyer has a formal relationship with the client. That’s not at odds with empathy. It is essential to put yourself in the other person’s skin. Precisely, when a case comes to us in the office we take the side of the people and empathize with him or her to see what is the best possible solution to the problem he or she poses.

Attorney-client relationships are based on trust and in some cases even lead to a friendly relationship, due to the fact that we become “part of the family”.

The nature of the profession means that we do not usually express personal emotions with the client. But that’s not at odds with humane treatment. Precisely because we work with such sensitive material as people’s rights, we have to have a special cure, both in form and in substance, for the cases we handle.

Advocacy is made up of human beings!

With co-workers whom we often spend more hours than with our own family, we do express more of our emotions: how a judgment has gone, how we feel about our children’s success, the difficulty of a case, the discomfort we may have from having little free time… With the client it costs more because, sometimes, we have the perception that explaining our emotions makes us more vulnerable or that we may lose prestige.

In any case, not expressing our perception of life with clients would not qualify it as “fear”. Lawyers empathize and show solidarity with their clients, and in this area, the personal emotions of the lawyer take second place.

2. I often get the perception that certain organizations only want “robot lawyers”. That they do not feel, that they do not openly express what they feel, but that they limit themselves to executing orders from their superiors. How could we humanize our profession?

Law is an exciting and always changing profession. The laws are constantly changing, we have deadlines to present the writings, trials in our city, but also far from home … Often, it seems that we do a marathon to get to all the things that we have to do. Lawyers always have the feeling of running from one place to another.

I believe that a more humane professional practice is possible, as well as learning to use emotions on our behalf, to discover new ways of managing demands and difficulties in the office, in trials and in negotiations with opposing lawyers.

I think that it is precisely the new technologies that will help us to achieve this.

There are already robots in some law firms, especially in the U.S. that are dedicated to more mechanical tasks. Likewise, new technologies will help us to speed up the procedures, so that we will gain time of “added value” that will allow us to exercise the profession more calmly and taking more account of personal issues.

Also, I want to vindicate once again the empathy of advocacy towards clients and that lawyers are human beings who have emotions, who like to do activities and share them with our closest friends. Thanks to new technologies we also share our activity in social networks, in my case, especially through Twitter.

3. I would like you to explain to me, from your experience as a practicing lawyer, a couple of cases in which you have experienced any of the following emotions (joy, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise or fear):

The lawyers who dedicate ourselves to Civil Procedural Law have experienced all the feelings…Joy, sadness, euphoria, disappointment…depending on the result obtained, it generates one emotion or another.

In my case, I deal with Family Law issues and there are very complicated moments. Accompany these people in their processes and finally get a favorable or unfavorable resolution to their interests or those of their children affects you, and a lot. Advocacy is a living profession, which helps citizens, which means sharing their feelings and emotions.

Well-being

4. Are you planning, from the College, to create a Well-Being Committee, following the Anglo-Saxon model, to analyze issues related to the well-being and emotional intelligence of Barcelona’s lawyers, as well as to provide help and training to its members?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

This vision means that lawyers have to learn how to cope with the normal stresses of life, we have to be aware of our capacities and limits in order to work productively and fruitfully.

Nowadays, one of the aspects that lawyers must face is the high percentage of stress, due to the emotional burden that our work entails. On the one hand, there is the relationship with the client, which involves listening to mostly problematic situations almost every day. On the other hand, it has to inform of the decisions, whether they are favourable or not. We also suffer from the slow functioning of the Administration of Justice, and case deadlines…

We train lawyers who are committed to high technical standards. We work in a constantly changing environment, as a result of the legislative and social changes that take place constantly. We also have to adapt to new technologies and new habits that arise as a result of this. Therefore, through the Service Occupation and Career Guidance (SOOP) of the ICAB we address issues related to the welfare of the legal profession, with the aim of helping our members to cope with emotions because they are a very important part of the exercise of the profession. Learning to manage and know them allows us to take a more empathic approach with the client and to generate a bond of trust.

The ICAB has always wanted to be a pioneer and a point of reference, so the creation of the Well-Being Committee can be studied and evaluated.

5. There are companies that are applying the so-called “digital disconnection” so that their workers have a better welfare. What do you think?

New technologies have allowed us to live hyperconnected and pending today. I’m an advocate of family reconciliation. That is why, for example, the Boards of Government of the Barcelona Bar Association, which were held in the afternoon, have moved on to midday. If we want to build a more humane society I think we must be clear that, apart from work, there must be a space for social relations, for family life, and so on. With good organization and management skills many things can be achieved. This also entails the right to digital disconnection, although in some areas it is easier than in others.

Gender equality in the legal professions

Your commitment to equal opportunities between lawyers is evident: since your mandate, you have presented the “Comprehensive Equality Plan”; you have launched the campaign “Every day is March 8”; you have held the 1st Women Business & Justice European Forum, and you have incorporated the gender perspective in your training programs.

ISMA fully supports this magnificent task. It should be noted that one of our objectives is to break the existing glass ceiling in the legal sector and claim 50 to 50 in the partnership of law firms.

6. In this sense, is it necessary to effectively implement a quota system in the boards of directors of law firms and in the highest jurisdictional instances?

Yes, Advocacy has to work to facilitate the visibility of women in all spheres: social, economic, political, technological. We have the challenge of vindicating female talent, promoting the role of professional and business women in today’s society, promoting equal opportunities and parity policies and breaking the “glass ceiling” that unfortunately still exists in our society, as currently only 19% of women are on the boards of directors of IBEX-35 companies.

We have to believe in equality and work in a coordinated way to achieve a greater participation of women in power scenarios, until we reach a 50/50 parity participation. That is why we have to change the models of governance.

With the desire that the Barcelona Bar Association be one of the engines of this social change, the Board of Governors that I preside, in addition to being equal, has committed to work to achieve effective equality between men and women, starting with the legal profession.

7. Do you think that the quota system is the definitive mechanism for guaranteeing real and effective equality between lawyers within the law firms?

I believe that the quota system is a transitional system that must be maintained as long as there is no social change that makes the glass ceiling’ a concept to be sought in newspaper libraries. A workplace has to be for the person most qualified to do so. As long as there are obstacles that hinder women’s access to management positions, it will be necessary to maintain the quota between men and women in order to value female talent, which is not valued in a natural way.

I wish you a speedy recovery

I wish you a speedy recovery

Dear Paul Rawlinson, Global Chair of Baker McKenzie:

After knowing your temporary medical leave, I would like to tell you several things:

First of all, I wish you a speedy recovery. Your health must be your priority as of now. It is essential that you take a rest. You are the captain of this big law firm, and employees and clients need you to be okay. Above all, your family.

Secondly, I want to congratulate you on your bravery and humanity to make this history public. According to Baker Mckenzie’s official statement, which has been spread by different British and American legal media, exhaustion has been the cause of your temporary medical leave.

Considering that there is a substantial social stigma about mental health, the fact of recognizing your problem can help many lawyers not to be afraid of talking about mental health issues.

Thirdly, although you already have doctors who take care of you, I encourage you to follow LawCare’s activities. This non-profit organization, which is chaired by Mrs. Elizabeth Rimmer, provides many useful tools with British legal professionals who need help.

Lastly, if I were a CEO of a big company, I could assure that you would be my lawyer. You deserve my respect, loyalty, admiration, and trust.

Best regards,

Manel Atserias Luque

President of the “Instituto de Salud Mental de la Abogacía – Mental Health Institute of Legal Professions (ISMA-MHILP)