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LIV President's Blog 2012

LIV President's Blog 2012

Michael Holcroft, LIV President 2012 on the latest issues and topics. Read and comment.

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Defending your sanity – how time management can help

Defending your sanity – how time management can help
The LIV was proud to support the Mental Health Awareness Evening, held at the LIV this week as part of the Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) national conference in Melbourne.

The “Defending Your Sanity” publication is great work by ALSA Vice President (Education) Aimee Riley and her team. The publication is aimed at maintaining mental health while a law student and throughout your career. I found the practical time management tips included particularly helpful, and I’d like to share them with you.

Part of the mental health tool box for lawyers
I was pleased to introduce guest speaker, the Hon Keith Mason AC QC who launched the publication. Keith Mason is the Chair of the Tristan Jepson foundation.

A key focus for me this year has been provision of resources to assist with mental health in our profession.
Defending your sanity” is the latest guide for those who are looking for practical tips and advice to keep them well while they work and study.

Aimee Riley says the publication was produced to be a toolbox to address the issues faced by a disproportionate number of law students throughout their studies and continuing into legal practice.

Time management an essential part of maintaining mental health
I particularly like Aimee’s practical time management tips. Aimee has recognised that law students can be overrepresented in the perfectionist stakes – she speaks from firsthand experience.

Do you obsess and stress about every full stop and letter you type on a page? Do you deconstruct and analyse every word – find and argue the alternative?
If you recognise those character traits here is a summary of Aimee’s Time Management Tips to make life a bit easier.
  1. First ask “what do you want?” Not your parents, partner, sister or grandmother. You have to live it.
  2. It is your responsibility to know when assignments are due or important dates for a matter at work. Diarise everything, and check your diary daily.
  3. Do not take on any new tasks unless you have the time and capacity to complete them.
  4. Make “to do” lists your weapon of choice.
  5. Prioritise tasks that cannot wait. Break complex tasks down to achievable bites to avoid procrastination.
  6. Lawyers need sleep too. Do not try and work around the clock. Falling asleep at your desk is not a good look!
Avoiding potential hazards
The guide also has useful advice on other potential hazards for new lawyers such as dealing with the hours, time-based billing and how to recognise if something is wrong with a colleague or your own mental health.

I am extremely proud of the work the LIV Young Lawyers are also doing in this field. I commend our latest “Young Lawyers Journal” to those who want to read some insightful articles on mental health and the law.

Young Lawyers have also blogged on the topic with some great practical tips to maintaining your mental health.

More generally, the LIV recently launched the Vic Lawyers’ Health Line as a pilot program to give telephone advice to lawyers, law students, judicial officers, people who work in legal offices, barristers and judges. You can visit or call 1300 664 744 Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6pm. It’s free and confidential.

The future plans for lawyers health care
We are also undertaking a scoping study to look at options for a broader Lawyers Health Program. This would have a professional health advice, referral and information service. It would operate independently from, with interface with, regulatory processes during admission and practising certificate application and renewal processes.

I congratulate ALSA and Young Lawyers for continuing to keep mental health and wellbeing at top of mind for our profession.
I do encourage all lawyers to look out for your colleagues, family and friends. As a profession, the responsibility needs to be shared by all of us.

There are other resources available on the LIV website. If you or someone close to you has a problem I encourage you to seek support and refer to a trained professional. Don’t be afraid of asking your friends, family and colleagues if they are OK. If you are asked, don’t be afraid of answering honestly.

Acknowledgement is important.  The beyondblue motto is “Look, listen, talk and seek help together”.
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