Former co-managing partner of DLA Piper Australia Melinda Upton will be the new chairperson for national not-for-profit organisation Minds Count.

The Minds Count Foundation (formerly known as Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation) has elected Melinda Upton as its new chairperson.

Ms Upton is a leading intellectual property lawyer at global law firm DLA Piper, and Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property & Technology practice, comprising over 500 lawyers across 25 countries.

She has been a board director of Minds Count since 2014.

The Minds Count Foundation was founded in 2006 by George and Marie Jepson, in honour of their late son, Tristan. Over the past 10 years, the Foundation has become the leading advocacy organisation tackling psychological distress, anxiety, depression and related ailments for legal professionals and law students across Australia and abroad.

When the Jepsons stood down from the Foundation in early 2018, they did so in order to hand the movement back to the legal profession in Australia. The election of Ms Upton as chair sees the Foundation led by a senior practitioner who has extensive governance experience together with an understanding and appreciation for the concerns of all corners of the legal marketplace across the country.

The expertise Ms Upton brings to the role is complemented by the broader composition of the Foundation’s board of directors, including representatives from the in-house, judicial, BigLaw, SME Law, academic, medical and media sectors.

Speaking about her appointment, Ms Upton said “I’m honoured to take on the role of chair of the Minds Count Foundation. Since its establishment over a decade ago, the Foundation has been at the forefront of building greater awareness around mental health, depression and anxiety across all areas of the legal fraternity. I look forward to ensuring the Foundation continues to be the strong, collaborative voice the profession needs to achieve systemic change.

On behalf of the board, I sincerely thank David Field for serving as our acting chair, and leading the board during an important period for the foundation.”

Canon Australia chief legal counsel David Field, who has served as the acting chair for the Foundation since April 2018, expressed congratulations to Ms Upton on behalf of the rest of the board.  “Mel has extensive experience as a strategic leader in a global organisation, and Minds Count is fortunate to have the benefit of her capabilities and energy to lead the Foundation into the next phase.  Anyone who has spent any time working with Mel will be well aware of her considerable passion for the issue of mental wellbeing in legal workplaces” said Mr Field.

Looking ahead, Ms Upton stressed that the activities and advocacy of the Foundation will continue in 2020 – albeit in new ways – as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe.

The impacts of this pandemic will be felt for many months, and even years to come- and our biggest challenges lie ahead of us. As a profession, and as a community, we must be prepared for the changing support needs of our people, as the impacts evolve. Supporting each other, communicating regularly and staying connected is more important than ever. The Foundation looks forward to continuing our lectures and events in new ways over the coming months, and keeping the legal profession connected during this challenging and uncertain time.