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Mental health of professionals facing claims and regulatory matters: the role of the solicitor

13 May 2022

There’s a great line in an early episode of “Frasier” where Niles is talking about how much he likes having lawyers in his therapy sessions: “They make wonderful patients: they have excellent health insurance and they never get better.”

Thankfully, things have moved on a bit since then.  Prioritising mental health is no longer a taboo subject, and lawyers have moved with the times.  This, in turn, makes us better at recognising the importance of our clients’ mental health.

Cara Docherty

Cara Docherty

It is a key consideration for our Professional Discipline and Clinical Defence Team. We represent medics and other professionals during some of the most difficult times in their professional and personal lives. 

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, it seems fitting to address the role of the solicitor in assisting clients through challenging events.

Here are some of the key considerations for our team: 

  • Day-to-day communication: 

It is important to know if your client has a preferred method of communication.  Some clients will only engage on the phone, others prefer emails. 

The timing of communications can be important, too.  Clients may be best able to speak on the phone at particular times of the day, perhaps during school hours, or to accommodate shift work. 

The volume of communication is also a key consideration.  Some clients like to have as much detail as possible, others only want to know about important developments.

  • Client meetings:

In the last couple of years, we have all become used to telephone discussions and video calls. Many clients find this beneficial.  But others want a face-to-face connection, and it’s important to accommodate it where possible.

  • Managing expectations

Managing client expectations is always important, and particularly so when their professional reputation is at risk.  It is essential that clients have a clear understanding of the process and the potential outcomes.  If there is to be criticism of the professional, we are mindful of the impact this may have on them.  For example, if we are providing a client with an expert report which is critical of them, we would ordinarily make a plan to follow-up by telephone or a meeting to discuss matters in more detail and agree the best way forward.

  • Expediting matters

There are some instances in which the solicitor can expedite matters for the benefit of their client.  We are conscious that the length of time that an action is hanging over a professional can be detrimental to their mental health, and we work to reach the best resolution within a reasonable timeframe.


Defending professionals in claims or regulatory matters requires consideration of the impact that these challenging cases might have on them, and solicitors in this field are well equipped to assist. So don’t hesitate to tell your solicitor what you need in order to facilitate the best representation of you.  Please also ask your defence union about the support they have in place for their members.

If you have any queries about this matter, please contact our Professional Discipline and Clinical Defence team.

Cara Docherty, Associate: / 0141 221 8012

“The level of service has always been excellent, with properly experienced solicitors dealing with appropriate cases" Legal 500

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