Pearce IP's trade mark team head: There is still too much focus on lawyers 'building resilience'

Kimberley Evans highlights the high rates of depression, burnout and suicide for lawyers

Pearce IP's trade mark team head: There is still too much focus on lawyers 'building resilience'
Kimberley Evans

While the issue of wellbeing has gotten a bigger spotlight in recent years, Kimberley Evans believes that there is more for the legal profession to work on in this regard.

In the second part of her May interview with Australasian Lawyer, Evans talks incorporating AI into Pearce IP’s processes, how prone lawyers are to depression and burnout, and the need to work towards a sustainable work life.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by Pearce IP are you most excited about?

Pearce IP is an organisation where we “work from anywhere”. We set our staff up with a complete home office environment and have ‘connect’ days in our central city offices. This is exciting because it allows us to foster diversity and inclusivity in our team; it also allows us the opportunity to work with people who may not be available to us if we operated under a traditional law firm approach where people are required to be physically in a particular location.

In addition, for trade mark searching, we use AI-based algorithms which ensures we are best practice for our clients. As a firm that is six years young, we have the benefit of working with systems that will allow us to grow and remain competitive in the IP and the legal industries. This includes systems that have been set up to ensure the security of client, marketing and accounting data.

What should the profession focus more on?

I think we need to have a more realistic discussion about wellbeing. Our profession is renowned for long hours, fast-paced work, unreasonable workloads, perfectionism and we experience higher rates of depression, burnout and suicide as a result. Our profession is doing well to highlight the prevalence of these health issues in lawyers and there is a greater openness to talking about wellbeing.

However, I think there is still too much focus on lawyers "building resilience", which in our profession seems to mean being able to keep working despite damage to ourselves, rather than focusing on working towards a sustainable work life and allowing for suitable recovery periods. 

What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry? 

One of the challenges we currently face is the ability to secure talent with the right qualifications and expertise. We have had the benefit of growing quickly (we have doubled our workforce in the past 12 months) but finding the skillset we require is a constant challenge.

For the business of law in general, it is imperative we remain connected with peers, we keep learning, developing, and honing our skills and to ensure we grow our own talent, paving the way for our future leaders. 

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