"Girlfriends of the Court"

The dark side: depression in the study and practice of law

In Balance, Barristers, law students, Solicitors on April 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

This timed billing sheet is really getting me down.

On 5 April 2011 the Law Report (ABC Radio National) had very honest and frank discussion about alienation and depression among lawyers. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/lawreport/stories/2011/3181665.htm.

The recent study by Tani Massimiliano and Prue Vines law students also showed troubling tendencies towards depression in law students. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/UNSWLRS/2009/51.html   Continued…

Massimiliano and Vines suggest that low levels of personal autonomy and a high sense of competitiveness could be factors contributing to this trend. The Law Report discussion also highlighted feelings of alienation and isolation in lawyers practising in large law forms. Discussions about flexible work place practices have implications beyond retaining women in legal practice. The discussion is also part of a growing recognition for the need for a supportive work environment for all lawyers and for law firms to recognise the value of a full and flourishing life outside of legal practice.

UPDATES: 11.05.11 The NSW Young Lawyers have just released a great booklet on how to ‘Survive and Thrive in your First Year of Law’ (the pdf is available from their site click here). Although not on law or lawyers, Ben Pobjie’s has written compelling blog post on the impacts of depression which we include here.

15.05.11: A new report links traditional time based billing (in 6 minute increments!) to depression amongst lawyers. See the article here.

Another article about mental health amongst lawyers, and the responsibilities of law firms is found here. It discusses the recent beyondblue initiatives regarding the legal profession.

The Alternative Law Journal recently published an article by England et al on Mental Health and Wellness awareness programs at Monash University, available here.

The resilience@law initiative draws on 5 major law firms and the College of Law “to take a leadership role in raising awareness and understanding of the nature and impact of stress, depression and anxiety across the legal profession. The aim is to make a lasting contribution by developing a learning approach for people at each stage of their legal careers – from graduate lawyers through to partners” You can find out more here, or by watching the short video here.

And the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation has some useful resources here. Dr Ian Hickey’s report “Courting the Blues” can be downloaded there.

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