Rachael O’Connor launches new project with LawCare
LawCare is the mental wellbeing charity for the legal community.
Rachael O’Connor (Associate Professor, Director of Student Support and Academic Personal Tutor Lead in the School of Law) is embarking on a new collaborative research venture with mental wellbeing charity LawCare (funded by the Michael Beverley Innovation scheme).
This scheme will see aspiring law students and current trainees/junior lawyers from a range of under-represented backgrounds mentoring those responsible for trainee recruitment and organisational wellbeing and inclusion within participant law firms. This will be one of the first research projects to empirically explore the impact of reverse mentoring in this context.
A key aim of the pilot project is to spark meaningful conversation in the profession around the connections between diversity, inclusion and wellbeing. Its intended outcomes are to support the development of training for junior lawyers to better embed positive wellness and inclusion practices, addressing challenges such as turnover rates, lawyers’ mental health and supporting firms to develop their ‘USP’ for trainees and future employees.
It’s an absolute privilege to be partnering with LawCare on this project, having recently joined them as a Trustee, and a fantastic opportunity to take my expertise on reverse mentoring in higher education settings into a profession I care deeply about as a former practicing lawyer and now as an academic working with many aspiring lawyers.
In November and December 2022, Rachael O’Connor, Trish McLellan, Lucinda Soon and Kayleigh Leonie (LawCare) ran a series of roundtables with students, junior lawyers and senior leaders in the profession to discuss issues relating to wellbeing, inclusion and reverse mentoring in order to further develop the project design. The pilot reverse mentoring project will run in 2023.
Rachael is currently undertaking a three-year fellowship on reverse mentoring with the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence (LITE) and recently became a Michael Beverley Innovation Fellow via which she is pursuing this reverse mentoring project within the legal profession.