JLU: Junior Lawyers' Union

Asserting the rights of junior lawyers, who have much more power than they realise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dating, Depression and the Firm

The Tea Lady has only once flirted with the world of online dating. It reeked of self-conscious insecurity and deceit - full of air brushed photos taken a good five years before the present and plumped personal CV’s jam-packed with lies of omission. Truth is the first casualty of self-promotion... The Tea Lady never once came across Ben from [insert a suburb near you] who could change his underwear more often, smokes in bed and has unresolved issues with his overpowering mother whom he must call nightly when Neighbours is on.

Before you began as an optimistic AC, your firm probably sold you a dream too. No doubt, the partnership promised work life balance, “interesting work”, an environment dedicated to continuing learning, a corporate culture of openness, a love of long walks on the beach and watching the sunset, making italian food at home and cuddling....

I have only worked in one law firm but after speaking to fellow comrades, I suspect law firm HR departments are little different from the desperate and dateless so eager to gloss over the truth. One rule of thumb seems true, if a law firm says one thing when they are wooing you, the inverse is usually true. Work life balance is in fact code for cab vouchers and fast food on the firm. “Interesting work” means discovery locked in the dungeon from the Princess Bride and openness means taking instructions from your supervising partner while they are seated in a toilet cubicle because it’s the only moment when they have time.

But, during the courtship of those heady pre-articles days, perhaps their greatest lie of omission was that you were about to join the most depressed profession in Australia. I still find the statistics hard to believe: 25% per cent of lawyers suffer from elevated feelings of psychological distress - inadequacy, anxiety, social isolation and depression - up to 11 per cent of lawyers contemplate suicide monthly... But then I think about the people that work around me - the eyes that refuse to meet yours as you pass in the corridor, that haggard, focused look, the colleague that drinks themselves into oblivion at every opportunity. It all seems to fall into place.

Everyone has their own reasons for feeling depressed. Firm culture plays its part but then there’s the personalities of those that are attracted to law - we are often driven to perfectionism and like to be in control. [This paper by Dr Gautam is an outstanding investigation into depression in the legal profession.]

So enough of my trite whinging. Instead, from this day on, the JLU officially declares war on depression and on the corporate culture that allows it to fester.

Stay tuned for the campaign.


Anonymous Katy said...

My sis and I are trying to set up an organisation to help lawyers suffering from depression. Here is our website. Get in touch if you want to know more.

01 April, 2007 16:02  
Blogger tea lady said...

It sounds awesome what you guys are doing. Looking forward to getting in contact with you.

21 April, 2007 08:25  
Blogger I am the Queen of F*%&ING EVERYTHNG...OK!! said...

More peopel such as yourselves are needed in many facets of society...good on you both

26 April, 2007 14:39  
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24 November, 2010 23:24  

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