Diversity in the Legal Profession Network: Is depression the last taboo for Lawyers?

10 May 2017

OPTIONS: Sydney, Melbourne or Teleconference

Lawyers in particular are at high risk of depression and other mental illness, and while there remains a stigma against mental ill-health in the profession the problem does not improve.

Mental illness is the leading cause of long-term workplace absence in most developed countries. It is associated with high with high levels of presentism, where an employee remains at work despite symptoms that contribute to lower productivity.  Addressing this issue is therefore a major economic, health and wellbeing matter.  Mentally healthy workplaces work better for everyone however in the legal sector we see 50% of law students, 33% of solicitors and 20% of barristers reported they have experienced depression.

The Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney found that one in three solicitors and one in five barristers suffered from clinical depression, and that the incidence of depression in the legal profession is four times higher than that of the general population.

So how does the legal profession address this problem? And how can leaders within the profession develop better policies and practices to support mentally healthy workplaces?

At DCA’s next Diversity in the Legal Profession network we will investigate mental health in the profession with a guest panel that will look at issues such as:

  • The stigma around revealing a mental illness in the legal profession
  • Changing the perception of mental illness as a weakness
  • The long held practise of billing client hours and added workload and stress it creates
  • The nature of competition amongst firms to win cases and clients
  • The culture of bullying within firms and in the court room
  • The consequence of technology on the profession and its work practises
  • The increased incidence of mental health issues amongst graduates

Our guest panel will include:

  1. Kellie Wade, National Manager, King & Wood Mallesons who will talk about their resilience@law program, an initiative that emerged after a number of young lawyers reacted strongly to a lecture on poor mental health among young lawyers, particularly the legal profession’s stance towards promoting the health and wellbeing of their workers.
  2. Mark Leopold, Workplace Engagement Manager for beyondblue will discuss some practical steps that you can take to help build mentally healthy workplaces. As well as promoting a positive, productive workplace culture and minimising risks to employees’ mental health, mentally healthy workplaces can lead to increased productivity, improved staff engagement and enhanced staff retention.
  3. Trevor Edmond, Partner at Wallman’s Lawyers and Jerome Doraisamy, author of The Wellness Doctrines, will each share their personal experiences.

This event will be run simultaneously in the Gilbert + Tobin offices in Sydney and Melbourne and be connected by videoconference. Teleconferencing is also available to participants wishing to dial into the audio via phone.



The rest of this content is restricted to DCA members.