Strategies for workplace wellbeing

Wellbeing is crucial in any workplace, especially in the high-pressure environment of a law firm. The competitive nature, long hours and high expectations often lead to stress, anxiety, depression and burnout.

The hierarchical structure and competitive nature of law firms may discourage open discussions about mental health issues, contributing to a culture of silence and stigma surrounding mental illness.

In addition to the legal responsibilities employers have in ensuring a healthy workplace, there are significant benefits to fostering wellbeing.

These include strong staff retention, improved productivity, higher quality of work, and better client relationships. Ultimately, this leads to a strong reputation, more clients, and the ability to attract and retain top talent in a competitive recruiting environment by becoming an employer of choice.

The following steps can help a law firm work towards this goal:

Flexible work arrangements: Encourage a healthy work-life balance by implementing flexible working hours, remote work options and additional leave allowances.


Workload assessment: Ensure realistic expectations and organised workflows to avoid rushed deadlines. Clear communication about expectations can prevent stress and misunderstandings.

Adequate training and resources: Provide necessary training, equipment and resources to enhance confidence and efficiency. Sharing meaningful and creative tasks can boost morale.

Teamwork environment: Foster teamwork rather than competition. Praise strengths and provide constructive feedback to build self-esteem and confidence.

Respectful communication: Use respectful language and listen to the teams’ perspective. Understand their reasons for certain actions and communicate openly.

Personal considerations: Get to know staff personally such as their interests outside of work. Consider if they may be going through other struggles in life. Offer support and professional help, such as counselling, when needed.

Set an example: Management should model work-life balance by setting boundaries, not communicating after hours, and demonstrating healthy work habits.


Avoid perfectionism: Encourage excellence without fostering unrealistic expectations or excessive self-criticism.

Discuss mental health: Promote open discussions about mental health and raise awareness about available resources, including services like Lawcare.

Encourage exercise and movement: Break up the workday with varied tasks including tasks in and out of the office if possible. Promote wellness activities like mindfulness and yoga.

Opportunities for growth: Provide clear paths for promotion and professional development. Offer opportunities for further study or training in areas of interest to maintain a sense of continual growth and self-improvement.

Creating a mentally healthy workplace environment in Australian law firms requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the unique challenges faced by legal professionals.

By promoting work-life balance, prioritising mental health education, cultivating a supportive culture, implementing stress-reduction initiatives, offering mental health support services, encouraging regular breaks and boundaries, and evaluating workload and expectations, law firms can foster an environment where lawyers can thrive both personally and professionally.


Investing in the mental wellbeing of employees is not only ethically responsible but also essential for the long-term success and sustainability of a modern law practice.

Amy Soong is Legal Practice Director at Ashworth Lawyers and a Member of the QLS Wellbeing Working Group.

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