Nigel Jones, Partner, Linklaters

I graduated in biochemistry, but the challenge of doing something new, and taking myself out of my comfort zone, influenced my decision to switch to law more than 30 years ago.

In my teens, I wanted to become a doctor. We had a poor physics teacher at school so I chose not to do physics A-level – only to be advised a year later that, without it, I couldn’t apply to read medicine at university. The source of that incorrect careers advice was none other than the physics teacher. Ever since, I’ve tried to find ways of using the other skills I’ve developed to make a contribution to the field of healthcare. Who knows, perhaps patients have been better off as a result of my choosing law over medicine!

That same instinct has been a key factor in many initiatives in which I have since been involved. They include creating Linklaters’ first industry sector group (focussing on healthcare), making a video about ‘sustainable innovation in health’ as part of a thought-leadership initiative I led (way outside my comfort zone), and becoming the firm’s first health and wellbeing partner champion.

Most recently, I’ve founded the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) with a small group of like-minded individuals. I’m pleased that 25 law firms have joined.

It is an alliance of City employers – banks, professional services firms, law firms and corporates – which recognise the importance of improving the way mental health is addressed in the workplace.

We are led by business, for business. Our objectives are to improve ‘literacy’, achieve greater openness, and identify practical steps that can be taken both to prevent mental ill health in the workplace, and to improve the way employers treat sufferers. Not only because that will improve the quality of our working environment, but also because it makes good business sense.

On 10 June our senior sponsors – chairs, CEOs and managing partners of our members – discussed with the chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens, and leading players in the mental health field, practical steps that employers can take to help employees to remain healthy, both physically and mentally.

In the day job, I measure success through feedback from clients and colleagues. Most of my work is in teams. Obtaining positive comments about how the team has performed, both from team members and those we’ve been trying to help – including clients – is rewarding and motivating.

The level of laughter is a great measure of morale and of how well or badly a team is working.

A key objective of CMHA is to develop metrics to determine what interventions are needed to support employees’ mental health. Progress against that will be an important measure of success.

Getting senior City business leaders together to discuss mental health is a good start in raising the profile of the issue.

For more details on CMHA, see