That was the view expressed by CILEx Law School Managing Director Noel Inge at a roundtable event to discuss “Emotional Competency in the Legal Profession: an educational perspective”.
Noel was invited to take part in the event which was staged by the Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce, which took place ahead of last week’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
As part of our coverage of the awareness week, we produced a series of tips for how anyone revising for June’s CILEx exams can avoid stress.
Addressing the question of what tools can be provided to future practitioners to develop their emotional competency, Noel said:
“The marketisation of education and of legal services means we are living in a very competitive environment which leads to stresses and strains. Emotional competencies and soft skills are not well understood in academia.”
Commenting on those law students leaving full-time courses for jobs in the legal world, Noel continued:
“However, this is about employability and we are sending out students ill prepared for legal life; they’re not emotionally or mentally prepared for rejection.
“There are not enough resources and tools available – only six per cent of teaching staff have any mental health awareness training in colleges of further education, which have fewer resources than higher education.
“The research that’s been done needs to be translated into very practical toolkits freely available to those who teach and training on workplace culture and emotional competency integrated as part of a careers service.”
Although many people entering the legal profession attend full-time courses before securing their first jobs, this isn’t the case in all instances. CILEx Law School students study by distance learning, generally while working at the same time.
Acknowledging this, Noel added: “Not all law students go to university. We need to make resources available to everyone coming to the profession.”
That desire was reflected in one of the five conclusions from the event: that there is a need for emotional competency to be embedded in legal education.
- A closer relationship between regulation, professional bodies and legal education
- A need for practical resources on these issues – with an emphasis on getting the language right
- A need to upskill lawyers in practice on emotional competency
- Leadership on these issues needed in firms and chambers to change culture
Among the other members of the nine-strong panel at the roundtable event was Helen Whiteman, CEO of CILEx Regulation.