Expert panel to help lawyers navigate mental health challenges of legal practice


Lawyers can be better equipped to prevent workplace pressure developing into diagnosed mental illness by recognising stress- factors and upskilling with tools to manage them.

President of the Law Society of NSW Cassandra Banks will host a free panel discussion for solicitor members next week featuring eminent experts in mental health who’ll discuss how lawyers and practice leaders can deal effectively with workplace stressors that can lead to burnout, anxiety and depression.

“When I began my term this year as President of the Law Society, I set as the first of my six priorities, a focus on the health and wellbeing of the NSW legal profession,” Ms Banks said.

“As a lawyer who has practiced extensively in child protection matters and family law, I’m familiar with the stressors that can affect practitioners, including vicarious trauma resulting from reading disturbing files, or even listening to harrowing details of incidents experienced by clients.

“These experiences can be common across many areas of legal practice including criminal law, personal injury and elder law.”

For the panel session, the Law Society has brought together three mental health experts whose work has made them familiar with the particular aspects of practising law that can adversely affect practitioners’ wellbeing. They are:

  • Associate Professor in Psychiatry Greg de Moore – Westmead Hospital, Board member Minds Count;
  • Renee Mill – Clinical Psychologist; and
  • Brett Feltham – Senior Consultant, Employee Relations and Safety, King & Wood Mallesons

Ms Banks said she was encouraged by the positive response of members who’ve registered for the fully booked session to hear these mental health experts discuss ways legal practitioners and practice leaders can identify and manage workplace stress factors. A complimentary recording of the session will be available on demand to members of the Law Society’s CPD platform LawInform.

“A preventative approach equips practitioners with skills as seemingly straightforward as better time management and building into each day wellbeing strategies to improve work/life balance. These strategies aren’t always top of mind for lawyers driven to perfection, weighed by demanding workloads and high expectations of clients.”

Ms Banks also applauded this month’s announcement by International Bar Association establishing its Professional Wellbeing Commission, giving a global focus to workplace mental health issues in the legal profession.

The Law Society of NSW provides a free psychological support service to all NSW Solicitors. The Solicitor Outreach Service (SOS) is available for all NSW solicitors. Registered psychologists experienced with the issues often faced by legal professionals are on duty 24 hours a day.