National Wellness for Law Forum
14 March 2019
Law Council representatives attended the National Wellness for Law Forum, hosted by Melbourne University Law School and Monash University Law Chambers on 14-15 February.
The Forum has been running for nine years, with the objectives of addressing the high levels of psychological distress experienced in law and promoting mental wellness at law school, in the legal academy and in the legal profession.
Key messages from the Forum this year included:
- the importance of leadership ‘from the top’ in destigmatising mental illness and modelling good mental health practices;
- the necessity of taking a ‘three-dimensional’ view of the research around lawyers’ mental health;
- that there are systemic problems within the legal system and legal profession that impact mental health and well-being, including chronic underfunding and understaffing of the judiciary, lack of control over the shape of each workday, harsh deadlines and workloads, competition, and bullying and harassment;
- the impact of megatrends (e.g. the rate of technological advancement) as human beings (e.g. isolation, concentration, lack of sleep) and as lawyers (e.g. job security, constant client contact, harsher expectations in terms of response time and work hours); and • that mental health and wellbeing within the profession must be addressed through a number of different proactive, reactive and focussed approaches.
Promoting and supporting lawyers’ mental health is a Presidential Priority for the Law Council in 2019.