Following studies which suggest the workplace environment of firms often contributes to a high risk of mental illness among lawyers, a landmark set of guidelines has been introduced for the Australian legal profession
Introduced by the Triston Jepson Memorial Foundation (TJMF), the guidelines have been developed to assist organisations and individuals within the legal marketplace protect their psychological wellbeing.
The guidelines help employers address 13 psycho-social factors known to impact mental health and the revenues of firms.
TJMF chair Keith Mason said the guidelines are a significant development for the legal profession and would be good for lawyers and business.
"I call on the legal profession in Australia to further advance the great strides already made in raising awareness of the psychological ill health that impacts our industry," he said.
Twenty-six prominent organisations are already signatories to the guidelines, including firms such as Herbert Smith Freehills, Allens, Ashurst, K&L Gates and King & Wood Mallesons, among others.
Signatories are encouraged to work towards implementing the guidelines in their own way to cater for differences in individual workplaces.
Foundation founder Marie Jepson added that the guidelines were created following a University of Sydney study that showed more than one in four barristers, one in three solicitors and almost half of all law students are at a high or very high risk of suffering from a diagnosable mental illness.
"These guidelines were developed to help legal workplaces protect psychological health and safety. All managers need to effectively assess psychological health and safety in their workplace, undertake appropriate interventions, and measure the effectiveness of their actions,” Jepson said.
Legal organisations among the founding signatories to the guidelines include:
3. Best Wilson Buckley
4. Carroll & O'Dea Lawyers
5. Henry Davis York
6. Herbert Smith Freehills
8. K&L Gates
9. King & Wood Mallesons
10. Lander & Rogers Lawyers
11. Law Society of ACT
12. Legal Aid NSW
13. McCabes Lawyers
14. Murdoch Lawyers
15. Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW)
16. Public Defenders Chambers (NSW)
17. Queensland Law Society Inc.
18. Salvos Legal
19. Squire Sanders
20. Sydney Law School
21. The Law Society of NSW
22. University of Western Sydney School of Law
23. UNSW Law
24. UTS Law School
25. Watts McCray
26. Westpac Banking Corporation (Compliance, Legal and Secretariat)
Private firms, government organisations, in-house legal teams, law faculties and barristers' chambers can become signatories to the guidelines at (www.tjmf.org.au).