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Stress in the Legal Profession

Changes to workplace technology have negative effects on our wellbeing. The legal profession is one where technology has transformed lawyers’ work habits and, with it, has brought a range of workplace stresses causing negative effects on their mental health. Speaking at the Queensland Law Society Symposium in March, Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said that this “more pressured age” impacts on mental health in the legal professions.

According to Holmes, the mental health of lawyers is worse than other professionals, beginning with the highly competitive nature of obtaining a place in a law school and continuing into professional life where it is constantly pressured.

Her comments reflect new research from University of Queensland showing that private practice lawyers experience the lowest levels of mental health among all professionals and the highest levels of alcohol and nicotine use and abuse. The report recommends HR professionals to monitor employee attitudes, wellbeing and job performance components rather than focusing on task performance. With long working hours and the additional pressure of performance reviews and an expectation of being available to clients on a 24-hour basis, Holmes also recommended colleagues look for signs of work pressure on the mental health of younger members of the industry and not dismiss their workplace unhappiness.

Others in the legal profession say that although attitudes towards mental health have changed significantly, stigma is still a problem when talking about depression and other mental health issues. Because of this people in the legal professions are reluctant to seek help for fear it will be viewed as a sign of weakness.

At Retreat South we understand the pressures faced in the legal and other professions and have stress program tailored to help professionals minimise the impact of stress in their workplace. Working with you to develop a healthy approach to career satisfaction is our aim.

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