find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Firms still lack action on depression

Firms still lack action on depression

While lawyers' attitudes towards depression in the workplace have improved, law firms still fall short when it comes to taking action. Claire Chaffey reportsLaw firms need to provide more…

While lawyers' attitudes towards depression in the workplace have improved, law firms still fall short when it comes to taking action. Claire Chaffey reports

Law firms need to provide more training in regards to depression and anxiety in the workplace if the legal profession is to effectively deal with mental illness, a new study has shown.

The survey, conducted by Beaton Research & Consulting and beyondblue: the national depression initiative, examined awareness levels and attitudes regarding depression and anxiety disorders among 18,000 professionals in Australia.

It found that in 2011, lawyers were less likely to hold stigmatising views about depression in the workplace than they were in 2007.

"There has been a dramatic improvement in the knowledge, education and understanding among those in the legal profession of things to do with depressive illnesses," the chairman of beyondblue, Jeffrey Kennett AC, told Lawyers Weekly.

"You now have a situation where 22 per cent of lawyers have been subjected to some form of mental health, depression or anxiety training. That is a huge improvement on where we were 10 years ago, when I suggest there was none, and a big improvement on where we were in 2007."

However, the survey also found that barriers still exist when it comes to engaging in proactive behaviour and actually assisting a colleague who may be experiencing depression.

According to Kennett, this challenge can be resolved by providing training to all legal professionals.

"Every legal firm in Australia, however big or small, should commit themselves to having mental health training within their workplace," he said.

"One of the wonderful things that has happened as a result of this research is that more people are aware of depression, but there are still a number of people that are uncomfortable about their firm or themselves offering assistance ... A lot of people are still concerned about offering advice to a colleague, concerned that they might have their heads bitten off for interfering. But if everyone in the workplace was educated about depression, the person that you're approaching would probably quite understand your approach and, in many cases, might be very grateful."

The survey also found that 73.3 per cent of lawyers agree that having a stressful job increases the likelihood of depression, compared to 63.1 per cent in 2007.

According to Kennett, billable hours and a heavy focus on six-minute increments is a major contributing factor to stress. And while he is hopeful that this system will eventually be removed, he says that in the mean time, the percentage of lawyers attending workplace training must increase.

"We challenge legal firms to spend a bit of time and money having workplace training, because it's the best investment they'll ever make," he says. "If you end up with a happy and healthy workforce you are obviously going to be more productive than if you have got people who are not performing at their norm, or are absent from work altogether.

"We will be looking at ways and means of getting to every legal firm to see if we can't ensure that they have training."

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

Firms still lack action on depression
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, ALA, right-to-die law
Oct 24 2017
‘Right-to-die’ laws would be a relief for terminally ill: ALA
The passage of an assisted dying bill through the lower house of Victorian Parliament has been haile...
Oct 24 2017
Diversity top of agenda for future WA Law Society president
The advancement of diversity in the Western Australian legal profession will be one of the key items...
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
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 & ...