The SIArb held its inaugural virtual session on the topic of mindfulness and wellbeing for dispute resolution professionals on 5th August 2021. The issue of wellbeing is critical for all in the eco system and the viability of the same, including the judiciary, the courts, arbitrators, mediators, dispute resolution professionals and the like.
The hour and a half webinar focused on starting a conversation amongst dispute resolution professionals in Singapore about how stress impacts health and also the way our brain works, ultimately affecting the quality of work and effectiveness in the workplace and the legal eco system as a whole.
The conversation looked at ways to leverage the practical framework the Mindful Business Charter offers through encouraging more thoughtful and mindful behaviours and how people deal with each other. Specific attention was paid to how this framework could be applied to dispute resolution practices and the legal community in Singapore.
By way of setting some context, the Charter was originally initiated by Barclays Bank’s legal department back in 2018. Barclays wanted to have an on-going conversation with law firms it worked with on mindful practices and to normalise this subject in the workplace within Barclays and within the law firms Barclays instructed. There was a mutual desire to take conversation further and remove stressful environment. Since then, there are many signatories to the Charter, both amongst law firms and within the business sector client companies respectively.
This webinar shared perspectives through a diverse panel comprising Brian Henderson, former lawyer and founder of Whole Business Wellness Limited, Elaine Seow, Director of Focus Law Asia LLC and Jordan Tan, Co manging partner, Audent Chambers LLC. Richard Martin, a former lawyer/litigator, now a director of Bryne Dean Ltd was a keynote speaker. Susan de Silva, former lawyer and now a life coach, facilitated the engaging, lively and interactive session, which was both very candid and rich in content and which shared learnings.
Richard introduced the Mindful Business Charter, including its four key pillars namely:
- respect for each other;
- smart meetings/emails;
- respecting rest periods; and
- mindful delegation.
He highlighted the Charter framework as a platform for people to socialise approaches to work collectively rather than individually. This platform is a way to share ideas, including what has worked and what has not as well. It also facilitates the highlighting of various challenges faced as well as identifying suggested solutions. Also mentioned was leveraging legal community support through the Charter and its use as a tool to push through the status quo. The Charter framework also is in place to help provide better support for one another.
Some examples Richard shared included:
- the inappropriate use of litigation tactics such as service of documents at the eleventh hour which has a detrimental effect on the other side;
- respecting court breaks and the court day - of note the UK judiciary have recently issued some guidance on this topic;
- mindful emails such as who to include, the timing of sending them and being mindful about the email topic;
- allocating appropriate rest periods to allow time to recharge and making working late the exception rather than the rule, as well as “humanising” the workplace; and
- respectful delegation and managing work projects better internally. A few key takeaways from the panel discussion included:
- business and legal communities have a responsibility;
- we are our own gatekeepers in ensuring healthy habits and practices so take accountability for this - the importance of having the right mental health to be more effective and productive and creating a better workplace in law firms and with clients;
- practice applying second nature kindness;
- avoid being the oppressor;
- engage regularly in conversations with colleagues, be curious and caring and practice being open minded so as to be able to work more effectively with colleagues and improve working in the office and a better understanding of colleagues and subordinates;
- there must be a real and genuine intent to change by leaders be more conscious and cast a positive shadow at the start of meetings so as to quickly resolve matters effectively and efficiently.
- like athletes, lawyers need to recharge and recover - so build in habits to regularly take breaks to recharge and re-energize to avoid being on the wrong end of the efficiency equation.
- a wrap up message for juniors is to go be brave and get involved in initiatives at the firm or company - by being pragmatic is some way a junior can try and effect change.
The enthusiasm of our participants was clear as many had dialled onto the virtual platform and posted many comments and questions in the chat box function which were later addressed in the Q&A session.
The webinar ended with a networking session for attendees which some stayed on for.
The SIArb inaugural wellness event was well received and a success. The SiArb extends its heartfelt thanks to all the three panellists, Brian, Elaine and Jordan respectively, as well as Richard Martin, keynote speaker, and Susan de Silva who was a simply splendid facilitator for this conversation. The Activities Committee is also grateful to supporting Council members, the secretariat, and everyone who participated.
Meanwhile we look forward our next event, and an opportunity to catch up with everyone in person soon!
Click HERE to view more photos.
Geeta Thakerar - Geeta Thakerar Consultancy Services