Coaching in the legal profession: ICAM launches a support programme for its members
Have you ever felt depressed because of your professional life? Do you suffer from addiction as a result of the stress generated during your working day? Have you ever considered receiving psychological assistance?
Coaching is an increasingly popular practice in the legal sector. Law firms have begun to prioritise both the mental and physical health of their lawyers. Bar associations and law societies are also paying attention to this issue that affects hundreds of lawyers.
Aware of the stress that plagues lawyers, the Madrid Bar Association (ICAM) has recently launched "For a good future", a personalised coaching programme for its members to help them improve their state of mind.
"Por un buen futuro" will assist, in particular, those members who are registered in the ICAM job portal and who are in a situation considered special (due to unemployment, economic or health conditions).
This programme is free of charge for the beneficiaries and will be carried out through individual sessions, where the coach will have to identify the priorities of each mentee, in order to try to find the weak points and obstacles that each person is facing.
ICAM will also provide those who need it with training to help them in their active job search.
ICAM's office / Photo: Cinco Días
Coaching in international bar associations
The inclusion of coaching programmes is very much in vogue in the international legal environment, where many foreign bar associations are already implementing such initiatives. For example, DC BAR (the Washington DC Bar Association) has a coaching programme, the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAC), which aims to help lawyers, judges and law students improve their mental health and other stress-related problems at work.
Through the LAC, more than 50 members are actively involved in providing advice to DC BAR members.
In turn, the New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) also has a LAC, guaranteeing medical and psychological assistance to those legal professionals who need it.
Confidentiality is one of their priorities. "Confidentiality is our cornerstone. It is not just a promise, it is the law," reads one of their slogans.
Law, a stressful profession
Numerous studies have found that the legal profession is a highly stressful profession.
The Association of Corporate Counsel conducted a study  last year in which it stated that 74% of the lawyers surveyed confirmed that they felt a negative impact on their mental health because of their work. 44% of them reported using alcohol to cope with their stress and 64% suffer from anxiety. A significant 31% of respondents feel depressed and 18% have contemplated suicide at some point in their careers.
In Spain, burnout is also common among lawyers. According to a study carried out by the Humanising Justice platform , 63% of legal professionals reported suffering a high or very high level of professional burnout.
The same study found that burnout affects lawyers by increasing their cynicism (56.7% of them say this is the case) and reducing their effectiveness (24% consider that this illness considerably reduces their effectiveness at work).
Depression and stress are still not visible issues among lawyers, which is why it is urgent to carry out more initiatives such as those promoted by ICAM.