Lawyering Stress and Work Culture: An Australian Study

41 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2014

See all articles by Janet Chan

Janet Chan

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Suzanne Poynton

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Jasmine Bruce

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 26, 2014

Abstract

This article presents findings from a national survey of nearly 1000 Australian legal practitioners conducted in 2012-13 to examine the working conditions, work experience, and health and wellbeing of solicitors and barristers who practice in a variety of settings. This is the first Australian study to investigate the extent to which stress, anxiety and depression among lawyers are associated with the conditions and culture of legal practice. The results show a remarkably high level of self-reported stress and negative emotional states amongst this sample of practitioners, which is pervasive across different legal settings and demographic groups. Excessive job demands, minimal control over workload and spillover of work commitments into personal life are just some of the work-related factors which are significantly correlated with poorer mental health outcomes. Concerns about the structure and culture of legal practice in Australia are also highlighted.

Keywords: legal practice, Australia, work conditions, mental health, stress, anxiety, work culture

Suggested Citation

Chan, Janet and Poynton, Suzanne and Bruce, Jasmine, Lawyering Stress and Work Culture: An Australian Study (November 26, 2014). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 37, No. 3, 2014; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2014-61. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535377

Janet Chan (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Suzanne Poynton

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research ( email )

St James Centre
111 Elizabeth Street
SYDNEY NSW, 2000
Australia

Jasmine Bruce

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

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