find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
IR Advisor/Member Advocate
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: St Leonards NSW 2065
· Permanent (0.8-1.0 FTE) role in a developing team
View details
Let’s talk about law student mental illness

Let’s talk about law student mental illness

Traditional legal employers, like law firms, should not block the promotion of “alternative” career paths if they want to help tackle student mental illness, said a national law student leader.

Lawyers Weekly spoke with the vice president of the Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA), Marie Iskander (pictured), following the association’s national ‘Are you feeling ten out of ten?’ campaign to raise awareness about law student mental illness.

The campaign was held during World Mental Health Week (5- 12 October).

Iskander argued that sponsors of law student societies, including law firms and government agencies, need to stop viewing their financial contributions as a “marketing tool” and start seeing their support as an investment in a future generation of lawyers.

The dearth of information about careers beyond corporate and government law is crushing morale and damaging students’ sense of self-worth as they struggle to attain limited placements, she said.

“Sponsors … shouldn’t react negatively if a student society decides to … inform students of wider opportunities,” Iskander said.

There is always going to be a high demand for clerkships with large law firms, regardless of how strongly they are represented by law student societies, she continued.

Re-defining success

Iskander emphasised that she was not attacking corporate law firms. Rather, she was trying to encourage sponsors to recognise that student societies have a duty to keep members informed.

“At the moment we have this discourse where careers in big firms tend to be the traditional career paths and everything else is an alternative career.

“Whether that be in-house legal counsel or small private practice or community legal centres – these are the types of opportunities that are often neglected … [and] looked down upon,” she said.

She also called upon law schools to offer diverse mentorship programs and encouraged academics to reassure students by sharing their broad career experiences.

Campaigning for happiness

Numerous university law student societies participated in ALSA’s ‘Are you feeling ten out of ten?’ campaign by hosting events on and around World Mental Health Day, which falls on 10 October.

The University of Wollongong Law Students’ Society held its annual YOLO (You Only Lawschool Once) Week, which involved a number of de-stress activities for students, including meditation, bonding time with puppies, mental health first aid training and a ‘career mental health’ expert panel.

North of the border, the Queensland University of Technology Law Society ran its Lightness Project, which included a boot camp, massages in the law library, ‘de-stress and rest’ goodie bags, and a panel on health and wellbeing in the profession.

As the co-president of the University of NSW Law Students’ Society, Iskander was personally involved in their campaign and helped hand out fruit and flowers along with fliers across campus to raise awareness of health and wellbeing.

Over the coming year, ALSA aims to further tackle mental illness by working with the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation to create a set of guidelines that law schools and law student societies can adopt to reduce student stress levels.


Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Let’s talk about law student mental illness
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Debate, same-sex marriage, Law Society
Sep 21 2017
Law Society acknowledges ‘diversity of opinion’ on same-sex marriage
The council of the Law Society of NSW has said it respects the diverse views of its members on same-...
Scales of Justice
Sep 21 2017
Victoria considers legalising euthanasia
A change in law to allow voluntary assisted dying in Victoria will be considered by the State Parlia...
Old woman
Sep 21 2017
Federal government ignoring elder abuse crisis, lawyer says
A Queensland lawyer has called on federal politicians to follow the lead of the Queensland governmen...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...