Being Well and building resilience for inhouse General Counsels
Some reflections on 30th September 2022 in person live event with Axiom/SCCA at Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
“Being Well and building resilience for inhouse General Counsels”
By Geeta Thakerar, Co Convenor SCCA, Wellbeing Chapter
Here are a few reflections following a conversation with David McVeigh, CEO Axiom, Stanley Park, Scotia Bank Geeta Thakerar, co-convenor SCCA’s Wellbeing Chapter and Renita Castra, co-president SCCA had on 30th September at Raffles Hotel which was well attended. The first inaugural joint SCCA/Axiom event focused on being well and resilience for General Counsels.In the session, the conversations addressed key trends emerging for General Counsels, particularly in our APAC region. We looked at what is the makeup of a
General Counsel is today, how to build and maintain resilience of legal teams as well personal resilience as a general counsel. The panel also shared some tips on some of the typical top stress factors and various approaches to help manage stress and build/maintain resilience. The panel also looked at operating in non-ideal conditions including suggestions on steps to be considered.
David McVeigh, CEO Axiom, made some opening remarks sharing what Axiom are seeing general counsels are facing across the globe in different jurisdictions and some common emerging themes.
General Counsels need to take more time to focus on their own personal well-being as well as the wellbeing of their own legal departments and in country teams.
The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many demonstrating how important it is to support not only physical health but also mental health.
More General Counsels are realising that a healthy and happy legal department/team are more effective, engaged and satisfied in their jobs. This translates through to being able to better support the business overall. The need to value add to the business has never been more acute with the pressures of budgets and many businesses forced to repivot as well as doing more with less.
Remaining a true impartial and effective counsel to company boards/ and executive management teams is a must. It is critical to personally healthy in order to help support rational decision making, in a calm manner, particularly with the swirl of fast-moving initiatives, regulatory and legal uncertainties, and navigating the dynamics of a disruptive geopolitical backdrop.
One trend that many companies and departments are incorporating is a wellness day. Legal teams can come together to do fun thing for themselves or as a team, to positively celebrate wellness. Extended parental or elder care leave is also gathering momentum in many companies as well. Uninterrupted time outs and respecting rest periods are trending too.
Self-care is a reality to build and retain resilience. It is an absolute necessity for lawyers and their respective legal teams. It is important for General Counsels to have a better and deeper understanding as to what each team member needs right now.
The stress and anxieties of recent events has led many to better understand treating self-care as part of personal improvement. Self-care need not be too time consuming or costly. It can culminate in doing things for yourself that allow you to be more successful in life.
Personal commitments might include waking up early, to being grateful for what you have, being more mindful and self-aware and having better awareness of your surroundings, meditating, introducing a ritual of regular daily exercise or eating/drinking healthily.
It is important not to make self-care an outside-of-work practice but to incorporate it naturally into daily work and the process of work.
General Counsels can take time to observe their team members and do more regular check ins so as to catch stress levels or the team and start encouraging junior members in particular to speak up and to incorporate self-care into their day, for instance by always taking a lunch break, short walk, or other break.
Key sound bites include inter alia:
- choiceful and mindful delegation
- adapting your leadership style
- smart meetings/emails
- respecting and taking rest
- never underestimating the critical importance of one’s own personal mental and physical health to remain focused, sharp on top of the ever-changing environment
- effectively and efficiently to be able to effectively “declutter,” prioritize, nurture situational awareness and cultural intelligence
- being brave and address complexities head on, in a proactive manner
- balancing for and against” working from home” – a structural issue
- main question is whether an individual lawyer requires structure - likely more junior level lawyers will require some structure.
A big THANKYOU to Axiom for sponsoring this event and supporting SCCA and its members concerning this very relevant and topical conversation that General Counsels must engage on.