Founding Manifesto

Manifesto for Lawyers’ and Other Legal Profession’s Well-Being


The Council of Government of the Mental Health Institute of Legal Profession:

CONSIDERING THAT

FIRST. Article 24.2 of the Spanish Constitution recognizes the fundamental right “to the defense and to the assistance of a lawyer” to every person.

SECOND. Article 6.3.c of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, made in Rome on November 4th, 1950 and ratified by Spain on October 4th, 1979, establishes that everyone charged with a criminal offense has the right “to defend […] through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require”.

THIRD. Paragraphs 2 and 3 of article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union provide that “[e]veryone shall have the possibility of being advised, defended and represented. […] Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources in so far as such aid is necessary to ensure effective access to justice”. Likewise, article 48.2 of the above-mentioned Charter establishes that “[r]espect for the rights of the defence of anyone who has been charged shall be guaranteed”.

FOURTH. Article 542.1 of the Spanish Organic Law 6/1985, of July 1st, on the Judiciary provides that “[t]he term and the duties of a lawyer refer to the holders of a law degree who practices the profession and defends and handles the defense of parties in any proceedings or provides them with legal counsel of advice”.

FIFTH. Principle (e) of the Charter of Core Principles of the European Legal Profession provides that the “loyalty to the client is of the essence of the lawyer’s role. The client must be able to trust the lawyer as adviser and representative”, having the lawyer to wieght its inherent function with other basic principles of the profession, such as the “respect towards profesional colleagues” and the “respect for the rule of law and the fair administration of justice”. All of the above to guarantee that, as set forth in Article 3.1.2. of the Code of Conduct for European Lawyers, the “lawyer shall advise and represent the client promptly, conscientiously and diligently”.

SIXTH. Article 42.1 of Royal Decree 658/2001, of June 22nd, approving the General Statute of Spanish Lawyers provides that “[t]he obligations of the lawyer are with respect to the party defended by him or her, in addition to those derive from their contractual relations, the fulfillment of the defense mission entrusted to them with the utmost zeal and diligence and keeping professional secrecy”.

SEVENTH. Article 13.10 of the Code of Ethics, adapted to the new General Statute of Spanish Lawyers, establishes that “[t]he lawyer will advise and defend his client with diligence and dedication”.

EIGHTH. Expository II of the Explanatory Memorandum of the Resolution JUS/880/2009, of March 24th, by means of which, having previously checked its compliance with the rule of law, it is registered with the Registry of Professional Colleges of the Generalitat of Catalonia of the Regulation of the Catalan Legal Profession provides that “the regulation of practicing the legal profession, as stated by the Constitutional Court in its most recent rulings, must take into consideration the proper practice of the profession regarding the citizens, making effective the citizens’ defence rights as well as the right to legal protection”.

NINTH. The point 33 of the third paragraph of the Charter of Rights of Citizens before the Justice establishes that “The citizen has the right to the provision of a quality professional service by the lawyer in the fulfillment of the defense mission that entrusts him […]”.

STATES THAT

FIRST. Legal Sciences students’, lawyers’, and judges’ mental health is raising a lot of concern in countries like Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom because of the high rates of anxiety, stress, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicides.

SECOND. In Spain there has only been one attempt in order of ascertaining the mental health status of the legal professionals. This first attempt can be seen in the report published by the Foundation Institute of Investigation Applied to the Legal Profession, “Analysis on the characteristics of the diseases and injuries suffered by the attorney in Spain“. This report concluded that nearly the 3% of the Spanish attorneys suffered some kind of mental health issue.

This number is quite different from the numbers resulting from similar studies made in other countries near from ours, such as France (where the 52% of the attorneys will show a high level of mental alteration) or Italy (where the 15% of the attorneys suffer from anxiety). This difference can be justified, according to the report, due to the existence of a subregistry that it could not be calculated.

THIRD. Even recognizing the particularities of each legal system, specific factors concur in the exercise of the professions abovementioned (addiction to work, social isolation, burnout syndrome, harassment, lack of conciliation, dissatisfaction at work, working under pressure, discrimination by reason of sex, high competition, and lack of sleep, among others).

FOURTH. The term ‘mental health’ refers not only to the fact of not suffering a mental disorder but also, as the World Health Organization asserts, to everything that is related to (i) the promotion of well-being, (ii) the prevention of mental disorders, and (iii) the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by these disorders.

FIFTH. Given the lack of a project on this issue in Spain, the MHILP has been created as an organization that pursues the raise awareness of the citizenship of the existence of mental health problems within the legal profession, as well as among the Legal Sciences students and to collaborate with institutions, companies and Public Administrations to bring solutions to this problem.

In Barcelona, on January 15th, 2018

Manel Atserias Luque Tomás Gabriel García Micó
Founder and President Vice President and Secretary

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