JLU: Junior Lawyers' Union

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

JLU Mental Health Campaign

Today the JLU emailed managing partners from all major law firms in Australia asking them to do something about mental health in the legal profession.  Here’s copy of the email we sent out:

“Mental illness is a disease which often goes unnoticed or uncared for in workplaces across Australia.  Worryingly, it is lawyers that suffer from the highest rates of depression of any profession in Australia.

The Junior Lawyers’ Unions understands that junior lawyers are particularly prone to depression as they adapt to working within the rigours of the law.

We encourage you to do something about improving the state of mental health in your firm and ask you to consider in-house training for management and staff to help them recognise and assist those suffering from depression.

We have attached a brochure and other information for Beyond Blue, which offers suitable courses.


Junior Lawyers' Union”

If you would like us to send this e-mail to an HR manager or lawyer in your firm that we might have missed, please send us their e-mail address and we will send the e-mail for you and maintain your anonymity.

If your firm actively starts to address depression in your workplace (or is doing something about it already) please let us know and we will heap praise upon them through this blog.

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Anonymous Free At Last said...

More power to you Tea Lady.

When I finally walked out the door of the top tier firm that I worked for, I had no job to go. It was a leap into the great unkown - terrifying but ultimately liberating.

And, I don't regret it one bit. When I made the decision to leave the firm, I was taking 100mg of Zoloft a day and spent much of my office time wondering whether my desk chair was heavy enough to smash the window of my 18th floor office.

Prior to my departure, I disclosed my depression to the firm, thinking that since things had spiralled so far, perhaps, somewhere, there might be someone with a glimmer of humanity lurking around the firm who could help me out.

Instead, the firm demanded a medical certificate to confirm my depression. Once that was produced, two of the partners sat me down and advised me that I was being formally 'performanced managed'. They told me that they expected me to get in earlier and leave later, be more 'enthusiastic' about the work I was being given and to increase my output. They then demanded that I say the words 'I want to be a commercial lawyer'. I kid you not.

Needless to say, a couple of days I tendered my resignation. The sad thing is that one of them seemed genuinely surprised by my decision.

Keep up your good work. I hope that even if it doesn't change the attitudes attitudes of those leading these firms, it will help more young lawyers out there to realise that they don't have to live their lives according to an ultimately corrupted and destructive moral code.

20 April, 2007 23:54  
Blogger tea lady said...

Thank you so much for leaving that comment. I'm glad that I didn't read it at work because I no doubt would have been seen crying at my desk (which seems to be an unforgivable sin).

I've included your comment as the body of a post. I'll remove it straight away if that's not ok. Until more stories like yours are told, things are unlikely to change.

Thanks again. I'm so sorry you had to work for such contemptible people. I hope it all goes well for you.

21 April, 2007 09:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had known about this website a few years earlier but anyhow... Just want to let you know that you're doing a great job and hopefully the legal profession will take note.

I graduated in 2004 with an LLB and found myself working for a small law firm as an articled clerk. I had worked there about 8-9 months and was bullied by the senior lawyer, the accountant, legal secretaries who would all make comments in front of me about how incompetent I was. I was offered no mentoring, nothing - was pretty much expected to do the work of a highly experienced lawyer after having had no previous legal experience and being fresh out of uni.

I couldn't even do research as the senior partner saw that as a waste of time. I was told after 3 months as an AC that I wasn't bringing in enough money with my billing.

People deliberately did not assist me when I approached them for assistance; I was being paid peanuts and being taken advantage of. It eventually reached a point when I started becoming depressed and did not want to return to that place. After some extended sick leave I was told by the Senior partner in rude terms that I had to come back soon as they had a business to run.
After I sat down with the partners to tell them I had developed depression I was pretty much dismissed (not fired but not taken seriously) and was told: "Well it's not like you have a physical disability".

A week or two later I never showed up again. This is after I tried to resign several times but they would not accept my resignation. I worked in a couple of law firms after that as a paralegal but found myself being bullied again so I have completely left the field feeling extreme low self esteem, feeling like a failure, ongoing recurring depression with suicidal tendencies and an absolute aversion of anything to do with legal work.

I only hope that this never happens to anyone else again because I can tell you it's a lifelong trauma all because some incompetent idiots calling themselves lawyers get away with it.

Thankfully now I have a non-legal job that I enjoy and where I feel valued. If I had my time again I would never have studied law.

05 February, 2011 21:02  

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