Legal Business Blogs

Out of office: Freshfields, HSF among nine new Mindful Business Charter signatories

A further nine law firms have signed up to the Mindful Business Charter, an initiative devised by banking giant Barclays alongside Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard to try to mitigate unnecessary stress for in-house and external lawyers.

Capsticks, CMS, DWF, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Michelmores, Osborne Clarke, Stone King and Weightmans have today (9 May) signed up to the charter – six months after it launched – bringing the total number of signatories to 20.

They join Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Eversheds Sutherland, Hogan Lovells and Simmons & Simmons, with a total of 17 law firms signed up. The client side includes Barclays’ fellow financial service companies Lloyds and Natwest, who were inaugural signatories.

The charter was developed in an attempt to change avoidable working practices which can affect mental health and wellbeing, focusing on principles such as improved communication, respect for rest periods and delegation of tasks. Specific features include being clear in the title of emails sent outside of business hours about whether they need to be read or actioned promptly, not expecting those on annual leave to be on call or check emails, and negotiating, rather than imposing, deadlines.

While still in its infancy, the charter has been in train for more than a year. There are few clear yardsticks for measuring its impact – some have talked of measuring total email traffic, for instance – but the initial signatories claim early feedback has been positive. Barclays has considerable leverage, with adoption of the charter an integral agenda item at quarterly relationship review meetings with its panel firms. The 17 firms signed up now is still relatively light compared to its 100-strong panel, however.

Barclays managing director Philip Aiken (pictured) commented: ‘It’s hugely exciting to see the number of law firms signing up to the Mindful Business Charter continue to grow.  This goes to show that many organisations want to find ways in which they can support their colleagues in pursuing careers which are sustainable for the long term and, whist the Mindful Business Charter has its origins in the legal industry, this will also be relevant to many organisations beyond the legal profession.’

Pinsents senior partner Richard Foley added: ‘Just six months since launch, the Mindful Business Charter has already started to promote a cultural shift in our daily working practices. Small adjustments have the potential to dramatically improve our day-to-day professional life and support mental wellbeing. By working together we can foster positive change.’