Mental Health and Wellbeing

2015/16 Annual Report

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee has a diverse range of practitioners from the country, Government, large and small law firms, WA Bar, university, Legal Practice Board and the Legal Profession Complaints Committee. This enables a great collective of thoughts and ideas to try and improve the metal health and wellbeing in the profession.

In December 2015 the Committee completed its review of the 29 recommendations in the Report on the Psychological Distress and Depression in the Legal Profession and welcomed the release of the Review of the 2011 Report on the Psychological Distress and Depression in the Legal Profession (Review Report).

The Convenor and Libby Fulham from the Legal Practice Board WA and committee member, during Law Week in May 2016, presented a topic on a Review Report and the 13 recommendations that come from that report after a five year review. The Convenor went into some detail in this presentation on what the 13 recommendations mean and what people can expect from the implementations of these recommendations in the future. Ms Fulham provided practical advice to practitioners who are or know of lawyers who are struggling mentally or otherwise and how the Legal Profession Complaints Committee (LPCC) can assist with early intervention. Ms Fulham also provided a number of examples of what practitioners should not do and what early intervention could do resolve these matters. The focus on the presentation was to acknowledge that while working in the legal profession it is stressful they are techniques and avenues to assist practitioners to have a positive work life balance and to reduce mental stress to a minimum.

As part of Law Week 2016, committee members Philippa Rezos and Marshall McKenna joined members of the Intellectual Property and Technology Committee in presenting the Technology and its Effects in the Practice of Law.

The Convenor, Libby Fulham and Phillipa Rezos have jointly attended a number of the Small and Sole Practitioner’s Forums to support and promote the services that are available to this sector. This is not only for psychological assistance, but LPCC complaints, ethical issues and best practice. This is done in a positive way through brief presentations or liaising with attendees at the pre and post functions. These events have been held and attended by all three individuals not only in the City but also in Fremantle and Joondalup.

The Committee has also been monitoring the use of Law Society’s Employee Assistance Programme (counselling service), LawCare WA, for its members and promoting this service. The Committee has also been monitoring and promoting the use of the Locum Registry and outlining the benefits especially to small and sole practitioners of taking leave and allowing another practitioner to operate your business.

The Committee is progressing with the development and implementation of the 13 recommendations in the Review Report. This will be the focus for this Committee’s work for the next 12 months.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au