Law Society initiatives to assist lawyers facing issues related to depression and mental health come under its Practising Well programme.
Practising Well aims to provide a starting point for any lawyer who is concerned about their own welfare or that of their colleague. The focus is on getting lawyers “practising well”. (It has a section on the my.lawsociety website, at lawsociety.org.nz/practising-well.) Some of the useful Practising Well initiatives are:
National Friends Panel
The National Friends Panel is a New Zealand Law Society service. The Panel is made up of New Zealand lawyers who are willing to be contacted on a confidential basis by fellow lawyers with questions or concerns relating to practice issues.
National Friends Panel members will listen to you on a confidential basis. They may be able to draw on their own experience to suggest a way to approach the issues which are troubling you, or they may be able to refer you to someone else.
Contact with any member of the panel is totally confidential. Pressures discussed include:
- workplace issues (such as bullying, communication, workload, career advancement or other employment-related matters);
- financial problems (personal or firm-related);
- partnership issues;
- tax problems;
- trust account problems;
- work/life balance;
- problem clients, files, judges or other counsel;
- office management;
- ethical issues;
- health and state of mind;
- using an alternate/attorney; and
- where to next in my career?
More information as well as a list of all members of the National Friends Panel is available on the website. Any questions can be directed to email@example.com or phone 04 472 7837.
The Law Society’s Locum Panel is an online database of lawyers who are available to work as locums. A locum lawyer works for a short, usually fixed, term. Locums provide cover in situations such as the absence of staff or where the principal in a small or sole practice may need a break for recreational or health reasons.
The Locum Panel section of my.lawsociety.org.nz/practising-well lists information about lawyers who act as locums and all listed locums are required to certify the validity of information on their qualifications and experience.
This information shows the following:
- locations where the locum is available for work;
- year of admission;
- whether able to practise on own account;
- whether qualified trust account supervisor; and
- phone and email contact details.
The Law Society Locum Panel is a referral service only, aimed at assisting lawyers who need locums to locate them. The parties are expected to make their own arrangements for remuneration, accommodation, office support, professional indemnity insurance, etc.
If you would like to register for the New Zealand Law Society’s Locum Panel, please complete the registration form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon submission the Law Society will check the form with the supplied referees. If everything is acceptable your details will be listed.
For more information email email@example.com.
Lifeline Counselling has a team of qualified professional counsellors experienced in working with clients across a broad range of issues. Their confidential service can help with day-to-day issues such as stress, anxiety, burnout, depression, relationship issues, grief, trauma and addiction. All counsellors are qualified to Masters level and are members of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors.
Law Society members and families receive a discounted rate of $110 based on a normal 60 minute session.
Currently this face-to-face service is only available in Auckland, Whangarei and Hamilton, however Skype Face-to-Face counselling is available throughout New Zealand.
You can contact Lifeline by email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 09 909 2917, or by filling out a request for counselling form on the Lifeline website.
A wealth of information that assists lawyers to run a practice is provided to those who undertake the three-day course Stepping Up – foundation for practising on own account.
This course is a major building block in the Law Society’s competence and professional development programme.
The covers a range of areas of vital importance to running a legal business, including planning, marketing, financial management, leadership, risk management and professional conduct.
Those who complete the course will:
- be better able to run the business of a law practice;
- be qualified to assume responsibility for the obligations of the practice;
- understand and be able to more confidently apply the relevant Rules of Conduct and Client Care; and
- understand the principles and rules of trust accounting.
More information on Stepping Up is at www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-lawyers/legal-practice/practising-on-own-account/stepping-up-course.