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Victoria Hall

Partner / Consultant Solicitor, AltraLaw

Is your law firm willing to make a decision to commit to genuine change this year?

Gallup defines employee engagement as ‘the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace’. Happy, engaged employees are 13% more productive according to research by Oxford University & MIT, and Forbes reports that thriving cultures increase revenue four times over. What is central to engagement, happiness and thriving cultures? People. People and their wellbeing.

But how does that impact law firms? Well, ‘happy people sell’ – and this isn’t exclusive to tele-sales companies. Law firms too can have happy and engaged staff, be more productive and make more money at the same time! The evidence is clear. So why isn’t wellbeing not just on the agenda but at the top of the agenda as well as the focus of every law firm’s strategy and budgeting?

The case for change

The data to support the legal wellbeing crisis is everywhere, not least in LawCare’s ‘Life in the Law’ report released in 2020 that should make us all stop in our tracks. LawCare said:

‘Legal professionals are at high risk of burnout. 69% have experienced mental ill-health; and 1 in 5 are bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work’.

COVID has helped some firms and individuals manage their wellbeing strategies better via remote or hybrid working. This also saves commuting time, allows employees flexibility to manage their days differently and promotes a healthier lifestyle by not being at a desk for long hours every day. However, for some employees, the lack of social interaction, isolation and uncertainty has made their mental health worse.

There is no doubt that health and wellbeing of staff is rising up the list of priorities for law firms and that’s great to see.

All positive change is welcome and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this; each person responds to their environment differently. Therefore, a uniform policy on wellbeing just isn’t enough.

What is needed is a dynamic and genuine approach to wellbeing with a commitment to place it at the top of the agenda next to (if not above) billable hours. Is anyone brave enough to do the right thing?

At AltraLaw, we want to lead by example, illustrating how a nurturing environment for all lawyers is best for them and for business. One example of this is our removal of all billable hour targets.

Our 12-step challenge to help you inspire your people to thrive in 2022

Over the next 12 months, AltraLaw will present a series of wellbeing articles and events with real-life examples and pioneering suggestions to help you on your journey to sustaining a nurturing and supportive environment. Can you commit to them all? We’d love to hear how you get on.

As a sneak preview the first four steps are set out below:

  1. NOW: Step 1 – Make a decision at Board level. Minute it and commit to it! “We will treat the wellbeing of staff as the top priority and strategic objective for 2022”.
  2. February: Step 2 – Educate your staff on how best to look after their clients and themselves. We will be illustrating how to do this via our live event with the charity, Mind, in Mid-February – watch this space.
  3. March: Step 3 – Introduce an ongoing learning and development programme around wellbeing with allocated time for staff to commit to learning and focus on their own well-being. Suggestions from us will follow in March.
  4. April: Step 4 – Dive into the realm of what a sustainable future organisation looks like to align sustainable goals with the passions of your people. Watch out for a podcast coming in April 2022 which will take your thinking to another level.

We look forward to having you join us on this journey and learn from market leaders how focussing on the well-being of your people really will accelerate your success in 2022.

Our next four suggested steps will be published in April 2022.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and productive first quarter, that sets the tone for where you want you firm and, importantly, your lawyers to be.

Victoria Hall

Partner / Consultant Solicitor, AltraLaw

Victoria works closely as a trusted adviser with employers and HR teams to ensure that they adhere to employment law commitments alongside maintaining a productive and healthy workforce. She is often referred to as ‘the Translator’ by clients due to her natural ability converting complex legal problems into digestible and practical advice. Alongside her legal work, Victoria is an author, speaker, trainer and coach in the field of human performance. This gives Victoria a unique ability to blend her expertise in employment law with organisational reality to achieve the desired results for individual and corporate clients.