|Published on 26 Apr 2022 • USA (National/Federal)|
Career in Brief: Gavin is an experienced and passionate advocate and thought leader in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and mental health in the legal profession and beyond. He is also a courageous storyteller. To help break the stigma surrounding mental health in law, and to catalyze positive cultural change, Gavin openly shares his personal experiences navigating law school and his legal career while struggling with mental health challenges. These experiences have shaped the lens through which he views his advocacy work. In his current role as the full-time Fellow of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, Gavin focuses on the intersection of well-being and DEI. From 2013-2020, Gavin was an associate in the corporate department of Ropes & Gray LLP's Boston office.
One of the critical problems with focusing solely or even primarily on self-care strategies for improving well-being is that it places both the blame for the problem and the burden of finding a solution squarely on the person who is suffering. This ignores the significant role that organizational and professional culture, policies, and structures play in influencing well-being. This is not to say that self-care strategies are not important. They are. But it has long been recognized that the culture of the legal profession contributes significantly to the current mental health crisis. The profession must, therefore, take on at least some of the burden to change.
Reflecting on my own experience in the time leading up to my near-death by suicide, I do not believe that positive psychology or mindfulness would have helped me when I was already in a state of crisis. Further, suggesting that I should have been doing more of those things would have reinforced the notion that:
"The legal community cannot make real changes to the profession that will materially improve the well-being of attorneys and law students from underrepresented, historically excluded, and systemically oppressed populations until the members of the Massachusetts bar actually examine and attempt to understand the experiences that these legal professionals currently face nearly every day of their lives," and that "[t]o engage in this process of examining and understanding, we must listen to these experiences," and "believe their authenticity."