Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Natasha Hirst, of Legally Disabled, a research project that will investigate and map out the negative and positive experiences, choices and views of qualified disabled people working or seeking to work in the legal profession.
Natasha writes: "Why are disabled people seemingly unexpected in the legal profession and what can we do to create a culture of inclusion and access?
These are the questions that the Cardiff University based “Legally Disabled?” research team are setting out to answer. The researchers held a series of focus groups around the UK with disabled legal professionals to identify the key issues that they experience in trying to get into the profession and then progressing their careers once there. They are now looking for individuals to participate in one to one interviews that can explore these issues in more depth.
Disabled people working in IP professions may not necessarily have arrived through a career in law. However, as professionals, disabled people who work within the IP sector may well experience similar barriers to career entry and progression as those in the legal profession. We hope that the findings of this research will be transferable to other occupations.
We believe that disabled people seeking employment or working in the legal profession are an untapped resource with strong ambition, tenacity, determination and excellent problem-solving skills - all qualities that bring great benefits to employers.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare, andexplores the help that's available if you're suffering from workplace stress, and discusses what organisations should be doing to safeguard their employees' mental well-being.
Elizabeth writes: "At LawCare we know that life in the law can be challenging and sometimes things can get on top of you. We’ve been supporting lawyers for 20 years and we’ve seen first hand the effects long hours, high billing targets, and a competitive work environment can have on lawyers, many of whom become stressed.
In addition to this we often see certain personality traits in lawyers: an analytical mind, impatience, extremely driven, perfectionism, a constant feeling of a sense of urgency, and overly self-critical. These can all be very useful in the workplace but destructive in your private life. Often lawyers find it hard to admit they are having a difficult time and not coping for fear of showing weakness or losing face at work.
It is important that both firms and individuals take action to manage stress before it becomes too much to deal with. Stress is a normal response to a demanding work environment but chronic stress increases the risk of addictive and damaging behaviour, of developing anxiety, depression and other mental and physical health problems.
What can firms do to create a mentally healthy workplace
Depression, anxiety and stress are now the leading cause of sickness absence at work costing the UK economy over £70bn per year. Lawyers were found to be the third most stressed profession in a Health & Safety Executive study. The legal profession absolutely needs to make a shift towards a culture that better supports good mental health and wellbeing.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Roxna Kapadia, European Patent Attorney at Kilburn & Strode LLP, and is a report on today's joint CIPA, IP Inclusive, FICPI-UK and AIPLA Diversity in IP Breakfast Meeting. Kilburn & Strode is one of our Charter signatories.
Roxna writes: "Today CIPA alongside IP Inclusive, FICPI-UK and AIPLA hosted a panel discussion on "The Roles and Importance of Diversity Champions". Andrea Brewster, IP Inclusive Leader, chaired the panel. The panel included Harry Small, Partner at Baker McKenzie, Dr Bobby Mukherjee, Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property & Technology Law at BAE Systems plc., Raymond Farrell, senior partner and co-founder of Carter Deluca Farrell & Schmidt LLP and Maria Scungio, a partner at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks PC.
The members of the panel spoke about the role they play within their own organisation for improving diversity. One member gave a passionate talk on their organisation not appearing neutral when it comes to LGBT rights but in being an active champion of LGBT rights by, for example, wearing LGBT symbols.
There was great discussion about unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion. Here it was discussed how we tend to recruit and promote in our own image and how to overcome this by being aware of our bias and including a more diverse group of people in the recruitment and promotion process. It was suggested that people could benefit from taking a simple free online quiz on unconscious bias (e.g. the Harvard unconscious bias tests), to make us all more aware of our own biases.
One member of the panel talked about promoting the STEM subjects in under privileged areas and spoke in earnest, about white male privilege, how he has benefited and how he tries to actively open doors to people who would not have the same opportunities.
The importance of diversity champions at the top of an organisation and the importance of supporting others was emphasised.
This was an inspirational talk and shows there is a lot of momentum both here in the UK and across the pond, to make IP a more diverse community!"
Thank you Roxna for writing this article. If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome!
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Hannah Fish, Marketing Manager at Carpmaels & Ransford, and is a report on the recent mental health event run by her firm. Carpmaels & Ransford is one of our Charter signatories.
Hannah writes: "Food for thought: We say “I’m fine” 14 times a week and yet we mean it only 19% of the time.
On 18th May, in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week, Carpmaels & Ransford hosted an IP Inclusive event focused on well-being at work.
The event began with a Mindfulness Pause, facilitated by Tamzin Muir, which provided an opportunity for the attendees to gather their thoughts for a few moments. Following this moment of quiet, Stacy Thomson of Thrive in the City facilitated a discussion between 3 panellists, Sarah Sparks, Richard Martin and Tamzin Muir, all of whom had been high-flyers in the corporate world and were frank in sharing their own experiences of struggling to maintain their own mental wellbeing under the pressures of the corporate environment.
The wide ranging discussion highlighted the importance of sleep, the necessity of recognising the pressure we put ourselves under, the recognition of chronic stress symptoms, and the importance of actively listening to those around us so that the next time a colleague responds to a question about their well-being with “I’m fine”, we are alert to the fact that it in fact could well mean: “I’m…Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and, Emotional.”
Following-on from yesterday's blog post about the mental health event that took place in Bristol last month, you can now download some notes which summarise the main points discussed and give practical ideas to help your organisation tackle this important topic. You can also download the UK IPO speakers' slides. Please use these to raise awareness and keep the conversation going within your own organisations: we all need to do what we can to improve our own and our colleagues' mental well-being.
(Of course, we wouldn't be IP professionals if we didn't remind you that these notes do not constitute legal or medical advice, so please don't rely on them as such.)
Thanks once again to Withers & Rogers and Haseltine Lake (especially Fiona McBride and Lesley Evans #1 for their hard work in co-ordinating the event) and to the UK IPO speakers Lesley Evans #2 and Mary Taylor.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Jennifer Unsworth, Senior Associate at Withers & Rogers LLP, and is a report on the recent mental health event run by her firm. Withers & Rogers is one of our Charter signatories.
Jennifer writes: "As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Withers & Rogers hosted an IP Inclusive breakfast in their Bristol office. The focus of the workshop was "Mental Health - the last taboo".
The event was well-attended by the South West IP Community, including representatives from a number of law firms and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), as well as Jonathan's Voice, a charity that was set up in memory of Jonathan McCartney, a patent attorney who tragically took his own life in 2017.
The UK IPO shared examples of initiatives that they have used to improve wellbeing in the workplace, including manager training courses, peer-to-peer support groups and the establishment of a team of Mental Health Champions.
As mentioned earlier on this blog (here), IP Inclusive Management (IPIM) is the committee which oversees everything done under the IP Inclusive banner. It looks after our bank account and also formal matters such as third party liability insurance and data protection compliance.
Its current members are:
You can contact IPIM at any time by emailing the IPIM Secretary, or for financial matters emailing the IPIM Treasurer. Please feel free to send them your ideas about IP Inclusive's future direction or activities.
IPIM meets once a month. The minutes of its last two meetings (April and May) can be downloaded here, together with the Chair's report from April.
IP Inclusive Leader
Chair, IP Inclusive Management