Clarissa Rayward may be a self-described lawyer, podcaster and author, but one title matters more to the Brisbane practitioner: happy.
She has made ‘happy’ her brand, creating a blog, podcast series and now an online program for lawyers across Australia following the release of her book in 2013 Happy Lawyer, Happy Life.
“Research the world over is showing us that lawyers are unhappy in very large numbers. Here in Australia, current research suggests that one in three lawyers will experience depression at some stage during their careers,” a plug from the happy lawyer’s website reads.
“We are often hearing of the high risks of depression and anxiety, but so little is said of how the ‘unhappy’ lawyer can become ‘happy’ again.”
Ms Rayward aims to create positive dialogue and address what things lawyers could do to combat their unhappiness without having to quit the profession.
The family law specialist said that she hoped her efforts added a practical and optimistic perspective to discussions about mental ill-health in the law.
“When I was struggling with unhappiness in law, I could find hundreds of articles on why lawyers are unhappy but so few that told me how the ‘unhappy lawyer’ can become happy again. Many of those that I did find suggested that to find happiness, lawyers needed to leave law.
“As a lawyer, an employer, a colleague and a friend, I don’t want lawyers leaving the law because of unhappiness or ill-health,” Ms Rayward said.
Most recently the director of the Brisbane Family Law Centre has added to her suite of happy projects an eight-week online course, which she facilitates.
The first program, run in January, was delivered through a series of weekly lessons and the participants were able to connect with each other through a private Facebook group.
For $949.00 course participants receive three online workshops to guide them through weekly resources which are sent to their email inboxes. The happy resources come in the form of webinars, videos and e-documents, as well as a workbook to help map a happiness plan and track progress. People who sign up also receive a copy of the Happy Lawyer, Happy Life book.
Ms Rayward said that more than 30 practitioners from across the country participated in the initial course.
“Through my book, my podcast and now this course, I am hoping to share my learnings with other lawyers who are perhaps where I was a few years ago – feeling unhappy, lost and struggling to know what they can do to feel better,” she said.
Commenting on the benefits she gained from the program, Adelaide lawyer Megan Sweetlove said the support she received from the online community helped both her professional and personal life.
“One of the things I enjoyed the most during the course was the environment created by all group members [which] allowed us all to be candid and supportive about our experiences in law or life, which is so uncommon – but so necessary,” said Ms Sweetlove said.
Ms Rayward plans to run another course that will kick off on 3 July.