Blackpool Rock

When I was a kid, our parents used to take us to Blackpool for days out. We’d always look forward to a stick of rock. Sure, it welded your teeth together but, hey, why let a nasty case of jaw lock stop you from indulging in a sugar high that could take you to the top of the tower and back down again!

I think about that rock a lot these days when I talk to lawyers and law firms about the dreaded W word ‘wellbeing’. I say dreaded because I fear it’s become a bit hackneyed. For many, it’s still seen as a fluffy add-on. A box to tick.

It’s the quick presentation about breathing or meditation that you shoehorn in at the end of a training day after all the important stuff about black letter law has been dealt with.

It’s the ’10 top tips to make sure you never get stressed again’ empty promises that some ‘transformational wellbeing consultants’ like to tout.

At TCC we offer something a bit different

Because we believe that, for all this talk about wellbeing to have any effect, you have to think about your workplace like it’s a stick of Blackpool Rock. With mental health and wellbeing being the writing running through the centre of it.

So, it has to be considered in every aspect of your business. For example:

  • Time recording – those training sessions you’re paying for that are encouraging lawyers to time record every last scrap of time, even when they’re sitting on the toilet (apologies for the mental image…)…are they covering ethics and time recording? Are your trainers talking about the discomfort some lawyers have with the very concept of chargeable time and time recording? Or the ethics of charging on a time spent basis vs charging on a ‘what you feel the product you’ve produced is worth’ basis? Are you discussing how your lawyers can find ways to find value in non-chargeable time? And how they can balance the tension between the need to switch off and being productive in a world where chargeable time is still king 👑.
  • Management style – are you training your lawyers in how to manage well? How to communicate with others so that they create teaching and learning environments where juniors feel safe to ask questions and admit mistakes? How to manage their anxiety so that they’re able to delegate effectively? Are the sessions having an impact? Are your supervisors even able to turn up to the sessions or are they too busy to do so? Are they sitting there half-listening while trying to plough through the mountain of urgent work they have to do that day?
  • Policies and procedures – do you have a stress management policy? A mental health policy? A policy that informs staff how to work well with vulnerable clients and/or those with mental health disorders? What does your sickness policy say about mental health?
  • Business development – those fancy presentations and keynote speakers that you’re paying for about how to network well and how to bring in work to the firm…are they talking about BD in a binary sense? Or are they addressing the tensions between bringing in work and having a happy home life? Are they talking about how to balance the difficult decisions and feelings around a desire to do well in your career while caring for an ailing parent/children with additional needs? If not, why not?

I should say that, in talking about wellbeing, I don’t mean everyone gets what they want all the time and every lawyer is now going to get to work 9-5pm and go to their favourite yoga classes every evening. Sorry guys, but let’s be realistic. A lot of the time that ain’t going to happen.

No, the firm who gets it right re wellbeing is the one that acknowledges the tensions involved in these discussions and encourages discussion about them.

The firm that recognises that a team and a firm’s wellbeing is interrelated.  That, if this supervisor over here is working part-time and mainly remotely, that impacts on their junior over there (that’s not to say that people shouldn’t be allowed to work part-time and remotely. But we need to be grown up enough to talk about how that impacts on someone else).

If one member of the team has a tough time and then gets to change their type of work so they’re no longer working on big stressful matters then of course that has an impact on someone else.

If a trainee is struggling with anxiety and so gets to do shorter hours for a period of time, their supervisor’s wellbeing is going to be affected because their work levels will ramp up.

This is reality, guys! Let’s not shirk the difficult subjects and the tensions. Otherwise, what’s the point?

At TCC in our therapy, coaching and training sessions we don’t avoid talking about the difficult stuff. To find out more, why not get in touch with our assistant, Emily Wilson on

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