Wellness for Law

China in the World Centre, ANU, photo: Melissa Castan

Justine Rogers

I attended the National Wellness for Law Forum last week. The 2-day event brought legal academics, practitioners, consultants and students to leafy ANU in Canberra to exchange their research and ideas about law student and lawyer psychological distress, and their solutions.

Linking the talks was a background debate about whether wellness is an individual brain phenomenon or one driven most significantly by neoliberalism and other social and political factors – I hope we can agree that it’s both, and much more than this, and that ‘treatment’ must be multi-layered and won’t always be called ‘treatment’. The Forum shared many approaches to supporting and improving wellbeing – in the classroom, law schools, in firms  – and at the bench!  – including mindfulness and creativity, developing ethical, interpersonal and emotional capacity, and legitimate flexible work.

One of the presenters said that treatment was useless or, more carefully, that no matter what coping strategy one chose, it didn’t materially matter. The focus, they argued, needs to be on prevention at the organisational level. After my initial reaction Continue reading “Wellness for Law”

GAJE conference and the India Supreme Court case re-criminalizing gay sex

The 7th Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) conference currently occurring in Delhi India was inspiring on many levels.  It raised questions about the role of law schools in preparing lawyers who are responsible to their communities, and are ethical and caring people.   It also challenged participants to takehome learnings about how they could personally change the way they teach to create lawyers who care about justice on all its levels.

It was a shame that at the same time as the Indian Supreme court delivered a very conservative judgment re-criminalising gay sex (on Section 377 of the Indian Penal code), that the conference did not take the opportunity to discuss this.  The mainstream newspapers and media outlets were full of discussion about the decision and various commentators explaining what is likely to happen next and the impact on the Lesbian, gay,  bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.  With such a land mark decision at the same time as the conference, it’s disappointing that a group of justice educators did not discuss the decision in a plenary session.  Perhaps it’s indicative of the still challenging nature of discussing any questions relating to gender identity or sexuality in many countries, including in India.  It’s also partially explained because the conference was at Jindal University, about 2 hours out of Delhi with no access for delegates to radio, television or local papers.  It did have excellent Wifi and I’m sure Indian delegates would have been aware of the decision but didn’t raise it for discussion. The opportunity was lost to discuss these issues in an international conference as no doubt there would have been many perspectives and experiences which would have been shared, with the potential for combined action.  It’s encouraging that so many in the mainstream media in India recognized the decision’s significance and saw it as a breach of human rights.

By Anna Cody

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