Thursday 1 October 2015, Sydney: In the stylish surrounds of an upmarket law firm, sharply dressed professionals enjoyed wine and canapés, whilst toasting to a sombre subject, depression in the law.
Wednesday 30 September 2015 was the launch of young lawyer and author Jerome Doraisamy's first book, The Wellness Doctrines.
Pitched at young lawyers, graduates and law students, The Wellness Doctrines is a combination of personal experiences and practical tools, essential to developing a healthy working life whilst facing the challenge of demanding clients and billable hours.
Host for the evening and advocate for the publication Terry McCabe is the Managing Principal and founder of McCabes Lawyers where the event was held.
"Depression is a major factor in the legal profession," said McCabe.
"I personally have suffered from anxiety and depression issues throughout my career, as many others have, but depression was never an issue that was openly talked about in my more junior years."
The Honourable Justice Anna Katzmann, Justice of the Federal Court of Australia and director at the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation, addressed the crowd about the culture of legal industry and the importance of taking steps to make a change, applauding Doraisamy for his courage in speaking out, and proactively working to improve the situation.
"I have been a member of the legal profession for more than 35 years. For a good deal of that time, we pretended that mental health was not an issue. After all, it was important that we present to the public and image of strength and invulnerability.
"We were the problem solvers, how could we have problems of our own? But none of us is invulnerable..." said Justice Katzmann.
"I congratulate Jerome on his significant contribution to the public debate on this important and long neglected issue."
Showcasing a "by lawyers, for lawyers" approach, The Wellness Doctrines provides the inspiration and resources available to young legal professionals to take charge of his or her health and wellbeing.
"My hope is that this book can be seen by young legal professionals as an invaluable resource to help them proactively manage their health and wellbeing rather than simply reacting to a situation if and when it occurs." Says Doraisamy.
In February 2016, Terry McCabe will see the firm that bears his name turn 25 years. In this time, McCabe has seen the major impact that technology has had on the industry, and the increasing pressure upon lawyers to be available 24/7. When asked what he does to create a culture of support and an enjoyable workplace Terry replied it was about knowing your values, and applying them every day.
"Our values [at McCabes] are the foundation on what we have built our firm.
"Our commitment to quality and continuous improvement, our people, teamwork, life balance, integrity and last of all courage, because to be committed to the other values, you must have courage."We have put in place formal programs such as the People Inclusiveness Program which includes mentoring arrangements, leadership groups, boot-camp and team sports such as netball and quick time-out sessions with a masseuse we get to regularly visit our office."
"Our office is deliberately open plan, enabling clear lines of sight assisting with breaking down barriers between junior and more senior members of staff. It also allows for natural light to flood the building.
"We encourage and support all our employees to find a balance between what they enjoy doing professionally, and what they enjoy doing outside of work because those pursuits are equally worthwhile." Said McCabe.
The Wellness Doctrines also has an accompanying website http://www.thewellnessdoctrines.com which provides resources and advice to promote healthy mental well-being for legal professionals, and any other professional whether starting out or established in a career.
The Wellness Doctrines book can be purchased through the website http://www.thewellnessdoctrines.com, the Co-Op bookshop and Dymocks and other selected retailers. 10% of the proceeds from the sales of The Wellness Doctrines will be donated to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation.