New Zealand Law Society - A short history

A short history

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The Law Society’s Practising Well initiative began when an article headed “Lifting the veil of secrecy – depression in our profession” was published in LawTalk 732 on 29 June 2009.

This advised that the Law Society’s Women’s Consultative Group was investigating the effect of stress and resulting depressive disorders within the legal profession.

After outlining the symptoms of depression and its consequences, the article asked for feedback from New Zealand lawyers to help ascertain the extent of depression in the legal profession and how the Law Society could provide support and assistance.

“And remember, collectively we can make a difference. There is no need to struggle alone. It’s time to lift the veil of secrecy and confront this very real issue, in the interests of our profession,” the article concluded.

The article ran with a message from then Law Society President John Marshall QC. He asked for comments and suggestions from members of the profession on the idea of setting up an assistance service to meet the needs of Law Society members.

The articles struck a nerve and many lawyers contacted the Women’s Consultative Group, the Law Society or LawTalk.

Mr Marshall and others in the Law Society worked on developing an assistance service, and “Practising Well” was launched with an announcement on 30 November 2009 in LawTalk 742.

It is an initiative that Mr Marshall was most passionate about. As he said when announcing Practising Well: “I want to see us becoming a more caring profession. Practising Well is a positive start towards achieving that goal.”

From there, Practising Well continued with a regular series of articles in LawTalk, a special webpage, the establishment of the National Friends Panel and an online Locum Service.

Since 2009, the service has further expanded, with Memoranda of Understanding being signed, first with Lifeline Aotearoa, then Business Mentors New Zealand. The latest Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed with Vitality Works.

It is all based around providing lawyers with resources aimed at helping us all to achieve healthy minds, healthy bodies and healthy practices.

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