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Wellbeing in the Legal Profession: Reflections on Recent Developments (or, what do we talk about when we talk about wellbing?)

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Richard Collier

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Abstract

In recent years the legal profession in England and Wales, as elsewhere, has begun to pay increasing attention to the issue of wellbeing. This debate takes place against the backdrop of a substantial body of international and, more recently, UK-based research that suggests significant problems exist in this area for many lawyers. More specifically, a growing literature base raises questions about environmental factors within legal practice, workplace structures, cultures and aspects of legal education and training that can have deleterious consequences for lawyer and law student wellbeing. This article addresses the intersections of these fields; it reviews recent developments, considers counter-arguments challenging the idea of a particular problem around lawyer wellbeing and assesses how ideas about wellbeing are deployed in ways that connect to wider debates about gender equality, diversity and inclusion. The paper concludes by considering the implications of rethinking wellbeing for legal professionalism within the context of the entrepreneurial, market-orientated and ‘hyper-masculinist’ cultures associated with neoliberalism. Critically assessing wellbeing does not only tell us much about the socio-political and ethical dimensions of changes in the legal profession, it also reveals important contradictions within the cultures of law firms and processes of identity formation as a legal professional.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Collier R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of the Legal Profession

Year: 2016

Volume: 23

Issue: 1

Pages: 41-60

Online publication date: 21/12/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 24/05/2016

ISSN (print): 0969-5958

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9257

Publisher: Routledge

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2015.1113970

DOI: 10.1080/09695958.2015.1113970


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