Zita Tulyahikayo and James Pereira QC – Founders of the Libra Partnership, co-authors of “Loving Legal Life” for The Lawyer, and wellbeing columnists for Counsel Magazine.
In 2018, we founded the Libra Partnership to lead individual and systemic change within the legal profession. Our decision came after many years of work in our respective professions, and more recent work together writing, speaking and holding workshops to enhance sustainable professional performance in the legal profession. We now offer a range of coaching, workshops, writing and speaking services to the lawyers, law firms and barristers’ chambers for this purpose.
“Loving Legal Life” is a bi-monthly wellbeing column that appears in www.lawyermagazine.com, an online publication for lawyers around the world. It is the first regular wellbeing column that offers support to members of the legal profession from a systemic perspective. Given our respective roles, James as a member of the system of law and Zita as a Systemic Coach, it was natural for us to present each article as seeking to raise and address issues particular to this profession enhanced by the depth that a systemic approach can often bring to understanding root causes and their effects. Following the ongoing success of “Loving Legal Life”, we were engaged to write a series of articles on professional performance and wellbeing for the Bar’s journal, Counsel Magazine. This in turn led to our appointment as regular columnists on these issues.
James had, like many other lawyers of his skill and talent, achieved great success early in his career but at a price, one that inspired him to make new life choices that would support him at a higher and more sustainable level of success. Fortunately, his transition coincided with a heightened awareness within the Bar that this was a systemic problem that not only threatened individual members of the profession but also the profession as a whole, which is made up of the sum of its many parts. In 2016, James gave his first talk to a packed audience in Middle Temple Hall, “Wellbeing at The Bar – How to Survive and Thrive”. How we now work and support members of the legal profession has evolved from that talk. James has since trained as an NLP Master Practitioner and completed the Essentials Certificate training in systemic coaching with constellations at the Whole Partnership. He continues to work in independent practice at the Bar, but with a deeper and more resourceful understanding of the issues in play within the profession.
The British Legal System, viewed indirectly as our client, is notoriously private and cautious. It is not part of the accepted code to appear as though one might need help. Through our work we have been able to gently push down doors and engage old systems of belief in new discourse. Two things have made this possible. First, there is a deep resonance between the law and systemic constellations: ritual, order, loyalty, belonging and atonement are all firmly established aspects of the legal system. Secondly, since James is a member of the tribe, we have been able to engage with the profession from within, a rarity given it is a system concealed by its authority and regalia.
Two recent examples of our work illustrate the systemic approach that we adopt. Our article “Making the Change to Being Well” (Counsel, June 2018), started by examining the rules of belonging and hidden loyalties within the legal profession – the rules of the barristerial tribe. Explaining long-standing and unquestioned patterns of behaviour in this way offered our readers an opportunity to understand, acknowledge and ultimately overcome perceived barriers to personal and hence systemic change. In our article “How to Solve Complex Problems More Easily” (The Lawyer, June 2018) introduced readers to mapping problems using table-top constellation maps, reinforcing the message that rational, conscious reasoning has limitations as the sole means of problem solving, whereas the use of a more intuitive, embodied and systemic approach can bring greater and more powerful resources to resolve a particular issue.
The power of the pen can be mighty, and its reach is far and wide in a world where digital is king. Writing a regular wellbeing column through the systemic lens has awakened an interest in wellbeing that stands in stark contrast to the current popular trend that centres around the nebulous impressions of “mindfulness” on one hand, and a military approach to resilience on the other. Bringing heart, and relationships to this heady mix has its merits through necessity.
In the last two years, the number of lawyers who have made contact with the legal mental health charity Law Care has increased: where once shame maintained the status quo of silence and the stiff upper lip, it is finally starting to be acceptable to ask for help, to accept that one does not know all the answers. Small though these movements are in the greater scheme of things, in context they are symptoms of change taking place amongst the deep folds of fabric that have intricately stitched themselves together over time.
Zita also offers personal coaching through her business Life Therapy with Zita – Systemic Coaching for Individuals and Organisations. This offers a combination of skills to attend to client’s request – Hypnotherapy, Systemic Coaching, EFT and NLP give high achieving women and men the support they need to perform more wholeheartedly and effectively.
In addition to his thriving legal practice, James offers tailored consultancy and advice to law firms and individuals who want to work in a healthier, more effective and sustainable way.