ANU School of Legal Practice is a national leader in researching and providing Practical Legal Training that supports the mental health and wellbeing of our graduates, in order to ensure their true preparedness for practice.
A number of our staff are researching extensively in the area of student and lawyer wellbeing and are receiving national and international recognition for their work. An important part of this research is the trialing and evaluation of approaches to curriculum development that support wellbeing in an integrated and holistic sense – rather than providing 'add on' decontextualised modules on mental health that may not provide the foundation for the successful practice in law.
Ways in which ANU School of Legal Practice look after the wellbeing of students includes:
- Assigning each team of students a Practice Mentor for the duration of the course
- Training students to work collaboratively during the Professional Practice Core
- Placing the emphasis of the assessment and course content on developing and behaving as a professional
- Integrating the Giving Voice to Values curriculum (developed by Mary Gentile of Babson College) as part of the Professional Practice Core.
Interim findings, in a quantitative survey of Australian lawyers within their first year of practice by Tang, Rowe, Foley and Holmes, indicates that ANU School of Legal Practice graduates in their first year of practice:
- Have significantly less potentially impairing symptoms or psychological distress than Australian lawyers (Chan et al, 2014)
- Have higher levels of pathway thinking (being able to come up with ways to solve a problem) than graduates of other PLT providers
- Have higher levels of agency thinking (being able to act on those problem solving pathways successfully) than graduates of other PLT providers
- Have higher levels of connection with social justice and the welfare of others (within their firm and in society generally) as part of their ethical mindset, than graduates of other PLT provides.
ANU School of Legal Practice employs a psychologist on staff, Stephen Tang, who is also a lawyer and ANU School of Legal Practice lecturer.
We have also compiled a list of national and state based support services, including crisis lines, helplines and online services.
ANU School of Legal Practice is a national leader in researching and providing Professional Legal Training that supports the mental health and wellbeing.