Lawyers’ mental health must be nurtured for the sake of their clients - Jodi Gordon

Legal firms ignore the wellbeing of staff at their peril, writes Jodi Gordon

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week with its theme being Movement: moving more for our mental health.

It has long been established that physical illness and injury can have an impact on someone’s mental wellbeing. That link has only become clearer for me over the 13 years I have been representing cyclists who have been injured on Scotland’s roads.

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For so many of our clients, leading an active life has multiple benefits. I have encountered many clients who manage their mental wellbeing by cycling. When that is suddenly taken away from them because of physical injury, the consequences are frequently far-reaching.

Jodi Gordon is a Partner at Cycle Law ScotlandJodi Gordon is a Partner at Cycle Law Scotland
Jodi Gordon is a Partner at Cycle Law Scotland

There can be a sudden loss of control and feeling of helplessness. The psychological toll a physical injury takes on someone may not be evident within the first few days, weeks or even months.

It is readily accepted that if you have a physical injury, you seek medical attention and support. Whether that be attending A&E, your GP or a physiotherapist. However, the same cannot be said for society’s view when seeking attention for a psychological injury. While the physical injury can be seen, the psychological impact can go undetected and often ignored.

As a firm, we strive to ensure that our solicitors are equipped with the tools to be able to help our clients seek the right assistance at the right time. For an injured cyclist, that can be both physiotherapy and counselling. Physical and mental health are inexorably intertwined.

However, law firms cannot ignore the wellbeing of their staff who are entrusted to deliver a holistic approach to the provision of a personal injury service. In a service industry with a reputation for prioritising productivity over well-being, the importance of an active lifestyle for mental health must be recognised and encouraged.

Cycle Law logoCycle Law logo
Cycle Law logo

When we introduced a four-day working week for all full-time members of staff in 2021, we had a vision that if you give staff the freedom to spend that extra day “moving“, their productivity would increase while they are at work. In turn, the shorter working week coupled with an active day would boost mental health.

Three years on, we have staff who spend their free time training for the UCI World Champs, marathons, HYROX, and volunteer for impaired vision tandem cycling club, Vie Velo, to name just a few. We are immensely proud of our staff’s achievements over what was an experiment to reduce the working week and introduce a voluntary active day.

It’s so important to be aware of the benefits of movement to mental health, both for clients and those who deliver the legal service. We also actively encourage staff to bring their dogs to work so they can step away from desks and enjoy the outdoors during breaks.

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Finding the small moments in the day to get moving not only improves physical health but also nurtures mental and emotional well-being.

Happy lawyers will always make a positive difference to their clients.

Jodi Gordon is a Partner at Cycle Law Scotland