FAMILY LAW SUPERVISION
Why Family Law Supervision
Recent statistics (2017/2018) published by the Mental Health helpline LawCare reveal a worrying trend. Nearly half of those lawyers who telephoned the helpline cited depression (17%) and unacceptable levels of workplace stress (27%) as the reason for their call. Research by the Law Society Junior Lawyers Division similarly produced statistics which demonstrate a growing need to pay more attention to the wellbeing of junior lawyers. With 90% of survey participants stating that they have experienced stress at work, 26% of which referring to severe levels of stress, this is a statistic which cannot be ignored.
Those working in Family Law are acutely aware of the emotional and psychological impact incumbent in the role whether this results from increased workloads, the demands of clients or simply getting caught up in the emotional turmoil which is experienced by those whom we represent. It is important to remember the psychological challenges involved in practising family law and the toll it can take on our health if adequate support is not in place and yet there is little in the way of such support available. (For many professionals working repeatedly with psychological trauma and human distress, supervision is mandatory).
Effective care of the practitioner is seen as a prerequisite to effective care of the client. But this is not the case in the field of family law, despite growing awareness of chronic stress, workaholism and burnout among family lawyers.
At Family Law in Partnership in London, Partners and Associates have been receiving individual supervision for several years. Founding partner Gillian Bishop has described it as ‘one of the best decisions I have made in my professional life.’
Generally though, in terms of self-care, the family law profession is playing catch-up. This diploma is part of the drive to change that.
Becoming and Family Law Supervisor
Now, in order for more family lawyers to be able to access supervision, more supervisors are needed from within the profession. Could you be one of them?
The answer is ‘yes’ if you’re compassionate, curious, fascinated by difference, intuitive, courageous and, above all, a great listener who would like to become an even better one.
The hunger for what supervision offers is evident. Not only is it a primary source of pastoral care, but also an ongoing educative tool. Through the medium of the supervisory relationship, it builds the practitioner’s awareness of the key role played by emotional dynamics in all the stakeholder relationships in family law: between client and client, client and children, client and lawyer, lawyer and lawyer.
Our training is tailored around the understanding that many family lawyers, by their very nature, are fascinated by what makes people tick. It is clear, though, that most basic family law trainings cover only the legal parameters of the work, overlooking the vital insights into effective practice that can be gained from also applying a systemic psychological perspective.
Self-care and client care are the dual building blocks of this perspective and form the core of our supervision model.