- Professor Lawrence Krieger, Florida State University
- The Hon Michael Kirby
- Marie Jepson, Founder the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation
Professor Krieger will survey the recent, leading studies that reveal the foundations of the specific distress that law students and lawyers experience, and then outline workable strategies for preventing or mitigating that distress. He will also provide a preview of new data from 8,000 lawyers in four U.S. states, further quantifying the various sources of attorney satisfaction and wellness. Points of focus will include: 1) the ways that legal education and law practice impair satisfaction of the primary human needs; 2) the definition of autonomy support, its demonstrated value for wellness and effective performance, and methods for autonomy-supportive teaching and supervision; and 3) the interfaces between wellness and professional/ethical behavior as seen in personality structure.
Larry Krieger is a Clinical Professor of Law at Florida State University (USA). Before commencing law teaching in 1991, he was a litigator for 11 years, specializing in securities and financial fraud prosecution. He is a pioneer of empirical research on law student and lawyer well-being and satisfaction, and is just completing the largest study to date of the wellbeing of lawyers and judges in the US. Professor Krieger is the founder of the Humanizing Legal Education list serve and web site, and founding Chair of the Section on Balance in Legal Education (Association of American Law Schools). He is one of 25 legal educators to be profiled in What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013). He is also the author of two booklets for law students on stress and career satisfaction which are used by more than half the law schools in the US, Canada, and Australia (where Melbourne Law School has recently revised these booklets for Australian readers).
Michael Kirby will address the tensions that exist in legal education and more broadly in the law. Many enter the law with high aspirations and with ideals of justice and community service. Sometimes they find the daily reality very different. The pressure at law school is for grades and elusive indicators of success. The pressure in the law firm, working in the back room. The stress in the court room defending a client’s cause that does not necessarily coincide with one’s own values. Disappointments and setbacks are inevitable in any professional life. Coping with these challenges requires an acknowledgement of them, a little help from one’s friends and family and a sense of personal value and utility. How does one maintain these affirming qualities? How can a profession which is itself under constant pressure to deliver efficient outcomes in an often adversarial environment adapt to respect and nurture the vulnerabilities of its actors? This address will reflect on the difficulties, but also the necessities, of securing change.
The Honorable Michael Kirby AC CMG retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009 as Australia’s longest serving judge. He was first appointed in 1975 as Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. His appointment to the High Court came in 1996 and he served 13 years. In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby served on three university governing bodies and was elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93). He also served on many national and international bodies. He was a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); a UN Special Representative on Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-96); a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007-current) and a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004-current). In 2010, Michael Kirby was awarded the Gruber Justice Prize. He is also presently a member of the Eminent Persons Group which is investigating the future of the Commonwealth of Nations; and has been appointed to the UNDP Global Commission of HIV and the Law.
Recently, a frequent response to the work of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation (TJMF) has been ‘you have raised our awareness about mental ill-health within the profession. Now what are you going to do about it?’ Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. Despite firms training their HR people and introducing EAP programs, they are rarely accessed and feedback continues that nothing has really changed. Ultimately, what is needed is to change the culture within the profession. Easier said than done. In the health industry, hospitals are accredited regularly and their funding is allocated on the basis of the level of accreditation received. Accreditations are sought, valued, prized and recognise ‘best practice.’ Over time the overall standard of quality and care within all hospitals is improving. So began our thoughts about developing voluntary standards for the profession.
One of our first challenges to this was that there is no Australian precedent. What would these standards look like? What would they measure? In January, in a world first, Canada is releasing its voluntary national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace. Marie Jepson will talk about the lead up to the release of the standard, discuss its provenance, and outline the way forward for the TJMF.
Marie Jepson is Director and co-founder of the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation which aims to promote psychological health and wellbeing, and reduce disability and distress caused by mental ill-health within the legal profession. The emphasis of the Foundation for 2013 is to develop a voluntary standard to promote psychologically safe and healthy workplaces within the legal profession.