Bond Law research helping “highly stressed” lawyers find their Zen

Lawyers and law students need support to deal with the high-pressured nature of their chosen career, or the future of the profession could be in jeopardy, according to the country’s leading academics.

Bond Faculty of Law Professor Rachael Field said that Australian empirical research indicates that one third of Australian solicitors and one fifth of Australian barristers reported elevated levels of psychological distress.

Bond Law research helping highly stressed lawyers find their Zen
Bond Law Prof Rachel Field has strategies for law students to cope with stress! (Photo: Bond University)

She said one third of law students also reported increased levels of stress after their first year of study, a statistic first reported in 2009 and consistently reinforced by various studies since then.

“Research indicates that for many law students, symptoms of psychological distress begin early and continue throughout their study and into their working lives,” she said.

“The legal profession has an ethical imperative to respond to the high levels of psychological distress experienced by lawyers and law students.

“A failure to act on this imperative will impact the future sustainability and success of the profession.”

Professor Field and Assistant Professor Jackson Walkden-Brown presented a seminar titled ‘Psychological Wellbeing in Law: A Snapshot of Evidence and Strategies’ as part of Bond University’s Research Week.

Research Week features free public lectures, seminars and debates showcasing the array of research underway at Bond University from 10 to 14 October.

Professor Field said the legal seminar provided an overview of the latest academic research into psychological well-being within the practice of law, and explored some key strategies for coping with stress and building resilience.

“Resilience is more than just the capacity to cope well under pressure, resilience enables people to ‘respond and endure’ or ‘develop and master’ in spite of life’s stressors and adversity,” she said.

“In the field of law, it is crucial we develop a deeper understanding of the onset and cause of psychological distress and take a practical approach to managing the stressors of legal education and practice.

“Whilst it is important for individuals to learn coping mechanisms to avoid psychological distress, institutions and workplaces have a duty of care to provide access to information and support,” she said.

“The law profession needs to acknowledge that psychological distress is a problem for our professional community, not for individuals to manage alone.

“We need to focus on establishing supportive environments and maintaining connectedness in order to ensure the physical and mental health of our lawyers and students, and the longevity of the legal profession.”

Studying at Bond Law School

So how does Bond University support its “stressed” law students?

Bond prides itself on its small class sizes. Students and professors work together to make learning enjoyable and dynamic. Taking learning outside the traditional four walls of the classroom has been shown to measurably improve the personal, social and cognitive aspect of the student learning experience. Outdoor activities and lessons can encourage academic skill development, creative and critical thinking, teamwork and communication and problem-solving; reinforcing the graduate attributes that underpin a Bond University education.

The Bond JD’s combination of excellent teaching, small classes and an extensive legal skills program differentiates Bond from other institutions. It provides an exciting learning experience that both challenges students academically and prepares them practically for a legal career.

Recognized as one of the top-ranked Australian law schools, Bond Law School has earned a reputation for its innovative teaching methods, international focus, skills training, and the outstanding success of its graduates.

Program: Juris Doctor (JD)
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland
Semester intakes: January, May, September
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program start date.

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