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What leaders in the law can do to create a wellbeing culture

While lawyer wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility, the potential for poor wellbeing to affect individuals, as well as organisational viability and liability, should see the topic appearing on leadership agendas across the sector.

The role of leaders

Legal leaders have a key role in addressing the workplace cultural factors that have an impact on lawyer wellbeing.

At a strategic level, leaders need to identify the current cultural state, define the desired future state and address the gaps, which often include issues connected with poor wellbeing. At a personal level, leaders in the law should lead by example, understand what good supervision involves, learn how to pick up if a lawyer is struggling and know how to have the right sort of conversations to improve their wellbeing.

Initiatives to consider in addressing poor wellbeing

If poor wellbeing is identified as contributing to gaps between the current state of workplace culture and the desired future state, there are a range of areas in which leaders can undertake or endorse activities to help improve wellbeing. Many of these initiatives are informed by what our survey results told us lawyers value and what they are concerned about in terms of workplace culture.

Wellbeing infographic 1

Communication and care

  • have conversations with key stakeholders about wellbeing as a collective responsibility
  • enshrine regular catch-ups and wellbeing feedback loops between teams and leaders – people want to be heard and to have a voice
  • teach and guide the people being supervised
  • make work meaningful
  • acknowledge good work, and
  • use respectful communication that promotes trust.


Wellbeing infographic 2


  • publicly lead by example in terms of personal wellbeing
  • set the standard of what’s appropriate and what’s not
  • shift what it means to be a good lawyer to expand beyond technical proficiency to include wellbeing
  • move away from ‘presenteeism’ to promote flexible work practices
  • actively promote inclusive, safe workplaces and bystander action
  • consider wellbeing within the broader contexts of gender, age, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation – because people’s experiences differ, and
  • better respond to the challenges faced by women.


Wellbeing infographic 3

Policies and procedures:

  • have policies that ensure a healthy, safe workplace and that all legislative obligations are met, and
  • consider providing explicitly for mental health leave in addition to sick leave.


Wellbeing infographic 4

Training and education:

  • enshrine mental health and wellbeing training for all – it’s important to make it clear that ethics cut across everything, and

  • train managers to pick up if someone is struggling (e.g. changes in behaviour, stress, anxiety) and how to have conversations about the issues.


Wellbeing infographic 5


  • make rates of pay and workloads sustainable and proportionate
  • manage work allocations
  • run productivity hacks to look past the billable hour
  • reduce process ‘pain points’ through automation/innovation
  • address autonomy issues, and
  • ensure role clarity and scope to reduce anxiety.


Wellbeing infographic 6

Wellbeing resources and initiatives:

  • create a wellbeing committee
  • implement wellness initiatives
  • offer and promote wellbeing resources, including how to access help (e.g. EAP, GPs, phone services, websites), and
  • consider providing private health insurance support.

What the VLSB+C is doing

We all want to see a diverse, sustainable and safe legal profession, within which all lawyers have equal opportunities to succeed in their careers and are supported in their wellbeing.

As the regulator of the Victorian legal profession, we encourage and support the legal profession to:

  • innovate to improve lawyer wellbeing – we want lawyers to have enough flexibility in their roles to modify how legal services are provided, so that they can continue to serve the community in the best way possible while maintaining their own wellbeing
  • better supervise and develop early career lawyers
  • better respond to the challenges faced by female lawyers, at every stage of their careers, and to retain women in the profession and support their leadership potential
  • share known and effective strategies for improving lawyer wellbeing, and
  • continue to compete to be preferred employers for all lawyers, particularly those who are new to the profession and female lawyers.

We are actively providing training support by:

  • strengthening guidance for CPD providers
  • encouraging firms to consider these programs under equal employment opportunity and work health and safety obligations, and
  • addressing positive culture, psychological self-care and stress management through training.

We also look forward to supporting the LIV’s Wellbeing Strategy and related activities to improve lawyer wellbeing across Victoria.

For more information about our research, projects and other initiatives to improve lawyer wellbeing, email

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