Well­ness — the key to good health in law

At Swaab Attor­neys, we want to set the bench­mark for bring­ing good peo­ple togeth­er. We say it on our web­site. We want Swaab to be a work­place they not only enjoy, but which inspires great work and per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al growth.

But, as Man­ag­ing Part­ner, I want to do more than talk.

I under­stand that to keep our tal­ent­ed peo­ple hap­py we will work hard to ensure they are being chal­lenged but, more impor­tant­ly, that they are healthy — phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly. Keep­ing well means our tal­ent­ed peo­ple can be fit to do more than just inter­est­ing work, they will be ener­getic and enthu­si­as­tic about doing a good job and achiev­ing great out­comes for clients.

Well­ness in the work­place is the key and I am com­mit­ted to being a leader in well­ness in the law. It is such a big issue in our pro­fes­sion and one about which not much was said for a long time.

I think there’s been a per­cep­tion that if you’re a lawyer and you’re hav­ing some emo­tion­al or men­tal chal­lenges, it might some­how be reflect­ed in the qual­i­ty of your work.

Well, we cer­tain­ly have moved a long way from that atti­tude, and the con­ver­sa­tion cer­tain­ly has opened up for every­one to share their own per­son­al sto­ries. Every­one has an expe­ri­ence to share and the more we talk about keep­ing well, the bet­ter it will be for us all.

To that end, I am very proud of my involve­ment in the Tris­tan Jep­son Memo­r­i­al Foun­da­tion – formed in hon­our of Tris­tan, a bright and tal­ent­ed young lawyer and come­di­an who we lost to men­tal health issues.

I con­sid­er how lucky I am to have a great sup­port net­work around me – from my fam­i­ly through to my col­leagues and to net­works beyond. What I want to do is ensure I give strength to oth­ers, to help them build the same sup­port net­works, remem­ber­ing that sup­port does not always come from above.

My biggest sup­port­ers on a day-to-day basis are the peo­ple in my prac­tice group and on the man­age­ment team, who exer­cise care, com­pas­sion, respect and integri­ty every sin­gle day.

When we con­sid­er bring­ing new peo­ple into the Swaab com­mu­ni­ty, the first con­sid­er­a­tion always is the cul­tur­al fit. We want to ensure that our peo­ple are the right fit for our pro­fes­sion­al environment.

This is a firm with 80 peo­ple, from part­ners to sup­port staff, and I want to ensure they are hap­py and enjoy com­ing in to work every morn­ing. Yes, this is a com­mer­cial busi­ness and we have to make money.

Healthy peo­ple, means a healthy prac­tice. It gives clients con­fi­dence, because if the staff are sat­is­fied, so are they.

Two key ini­tia­tives with­in the firm, are exam­ples of us putting well­ness front and centre:

  1. The Swaab Brand of Ser­vice: I intro­duced this ini­tia­tive when I became Man­ag­ing Part­ner in 2014, as a frame­work for behav­iour. It serves as a reminder to all of us about how we inter­act and respond to each oth­er both inside and out­side the prac­tice. Every­one has embraced the phi­los­o­phy and it is cer­tain­ly set­ting an even high­er stan­dard of ser­vice – we meet our colleague’s needs as well as meet­ing the needs of our clients.
  2. The Thrive Pro­gram: This is a more recent exam­ple of the firm giv­ing staff the oppor­tu­ni­ty to join a mind­ful­ness pro­gram, spe­cial­ly designed for us at Swaab. It gives us all anoth­er way of con­sid­er­ing how we work and live, and gives us tools to deal with pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al chal­lenges. I’m so pleased to see evi­dence of the impact it is hav­ing among our staff, who dis­cuss the tech­niques they have learned to take a break, or clear their mind, or gain some per­spec­tive and to enjoy qui­et time”. The feed­back was so awe­some we intro­duced a sec­ond pro­gram to involve more staff!

In sum­ma­ry, I am proud of the way we have devel­oped a cul­ture of well­ness with­in our Swaab com­mu­ni­ty. If we can enable every­one to be emo­tion­al­ly and men­tal­ly in a healthy place, it per­me­ates every aspect of their lives – client rela­tion­ships, col­league rela­tion­ships, per­son­al rela­tion­ships. At the end of the day it’s all about peo­ple. It sounds so very sim­ple, but often it’s the sim­ple things in life that have the great­est impact.