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Law Society psychological services

09 Sep 2022 / law society Print

I am the greatest!

The Law Society’s expanded Psychological Services aims to help lawyers reach their full potential – helping them go from ‘good’ to the greatest version of themselves. 

The Law Society has expanded the Law School’s Psychological Services into Law Society of Ireland Psychological Services, which now provides innovative supports to solicitors across the legal life cycle.

One of the key supports offered is ‘time concentrated therapy’, a bespoke form of short-term psychotherapy for trainees attending the Law School. Members can now access their own equivalent through LegalMind, a fully independent subsidised service offered through Spectrum Life, in partnership with Spectrum Mental Health.

As with the Law School model, LegalMind is open to any solicitor holding a practising certificate who would like to try some form of professional reflection. It offers expert assistance to enhance solicitors’ energy and enthusiasm for practice, relationships with clients and colleagues, personal wellbeing, and professional success. Members can choose from counselling, coaching, financial advice, psychology and psychotherapy.

Starting point

Psychotherapist Antoinette Moriarty is head of Psychological Services. “We see psychological development, in all its forms, as enabling professionals to go from good to great,” she observes. “No one needs to wait until they are experiencing burn-out or until there is a crisis to engage with us or, indeed, with LegalMind.

“Curiosity is the best starting point – come with your own questions. Therapy is an excellent space in which to ask yourself: ‘Am I happy with who I am becoming? What really lights me up? What are my goals and purpose for the year ahead?’”

Moriarty believes that we can use therapy in particular to figure out more about “what makes us tick, what’s really going on in our personal and professional relationships, and how we can make the most of this stage of life”.

The complete lawyer

The Law Society is the first Irish professional body to fully integrate psychological development and support into its training. This aspect of personal and interpersonal growth is now the ‘third pillar’ of Irish legal training, alongside the traditional twin pillars of legal knowledge and legal skills.

Trainees have enthusiastically engaged in ‘Shrink Me: Psychology of a Lawyer’ over the past eight years. A new expanded module, ‘The Complete Lawyer’, will begin this September as part of the new fused Professional Practice Course. It will build on ‘Shrink Me’ and, as the name suggests, go further again.

Trainees will learn about their own psychology, the unconscious dynamics at play in law firms, and how to practice optimally – without compromising personal goals or wellness.

If you are already qualified, fear not! The new Psychological Service has exciting plans to offer new programmes for lawyers at all stages of the lifecycle. As Antoinette confirms: “We know solicitors are working harder than ever as the pandemic recedes and client demands grow. We are putting together a suite of new programmes with a host of international and local voices to energise and support members, to strengthen their ability to engage with complex and fast-paced environments, and to manage their own boundaries with demanding clients.”

A safe space

Moriarty emphasises that you do not need to be in crisis to attend counselling. Counselling can offer tools and resources that contribute to emotional growth, improved interpersonal skills, increased self-awareness, and reflexivity.

By learning to strengthen your communication skills, navigate your relationships, and improve your limiting beliefs, you are gaining vital leadership skills that will add to your competitive advantage. Counselling offers a space to learn how to set healthy boundaries, prioritise them and, in return, become more productive.

“Allowing time to reflect inwards allows us to strengthen our sense of purpose and drive,” Moriarty says.

Mary Duffy (professional wellbeing executive at the Law Society) is passionate about resilience as a core attribute of high-functioning professionals: “Resilience is an ability to adapt to adverse or challenging situations.”

Resilience is important because it stops us from giving up when things get hard. It’s the ability to recognise an obstacle, and not letting it get in the way of achieving your goal.

Experts in Spectrum Mental Health explain that it can be helpful to differentiate between your specific goals, and the overall direction you want in your life and the deeper values that this reflects. By examining the values that are driving your goals, you can identify their true meaning and determine the best way to pursue those goals.

Ask yourself: what does this goal really mean to me? What would my life look like if I got there? What would I do if I was already there? How would I spend my time and energy?

Being aware of your deeper drives will enable you to identify more direct ways to access what you need – investing time and effort into your close relationships, or into building on more distant relationships to strengthen them.

Supporting you

The Psychological Services team is determined to offer relevant and meaningful supports that will help solicitors in the reality of their daily professional lives. Keep an eye on the developing plans on the Psychological Services page at www.lawsociety.ie and email your thoughts, suggestions, and observations to Antoinette, Mary and the team at ps@lawsociety.ie.

Members can receive in-the-moment support with a mental-health professional, day or night, by contacting LegalMind at freephone 1800 81 41 77. Text or WhatsApp ‘Hi’ to 087 369 0010 (or +353 87 369 0010 from outside Ireland) for a text-back, register for the online portal, or download the Spectrum Life app for mobile access to LegalMind, live chat, and digital-health content. (The app ‘organisational code’ is well2020.)

Look it up

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Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland