A new survey has found that over 40 percent of law students suffer from depression, with little improvement in sight when they become barristers and solicitors.
According to the study, almost a third of solicitors and one-in-five barristers suffer psychological distress associated with disability.
Professor Ian Hickie, from the Brain and Mind Research Institute in New South Wales (NSW), said that the survey of 738 students, 924 solicitors and 751 barristers supported earlier findings that consistently ranked lawyers first in surveys of depression.
In the survey, practising lawyers identified a number of causes of their depression including fear of failure in a competitive and combatant environment; pessimism; disillusionment through ethical compromises; perfectionism; and the obligation to follow instructions from clients even when against the lawyer's better judgement.
Hickie said that law students attributed part of their distress to study pressures. Legal professionals also said they were under pressure at work.
"They also talk about pressure in their lives. They all talk about pressure in relationships elsewhere in their lives,'' the Age.com.au quoted him, as saying.
"Part of the issue is, they are in a demanding education, and they will be in a demanding workplace. But so are a lot of other people.
"The (question) is: are their law schools and then their workplaces assisting in that?'' Hickie added.
Hickie said: "One of the difficulties I think in law is whether that is the situation in law schools - or it's all just individually competitive and high pressured. And in the profession ... is there a legal profession? Or is it just a set of competing individual commercial firms and competing individual people?''