On Saturday, 5 June 2021, I attended the NSW Young Lawyers Mid-Year Assembly (MYA) at L'Aqua, Cockle Bay Wharf in Darling Harbour as the Eastern Suburbs Regional Delegate. The purpose of the MYA was to provide committee chairs, general and regional delegates, student law society representatives and executive councillors the opportunity to network and collaborate on the future of NSW Young Lawyers.
The agenda of the assembly included addresses from Sonja Stewart, the CEO of the Law Society, and Professor Megan Davis, the NSW Young Lawyers Patron for 2021, as well as Committee Updates from 14 Young Lawyers Committees.
The Lawyers Committees include (but are not limited to) the following: Animal Law, Business Law, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Family Law, Human Rights, Property Law and Taxation Law. Despite COVID-19, most, if not all, Committees, had an eventful year hosting social events and seminars. If you would like to find out more about these committees, please head over to: https://www.lawsociety.com.au/legal-communities/NSW-young-lawyers/committees.
As you are all aware, the pandemic has had a considerable impact on our mental health and well-being as a community, and it should not be neglected. Therefore, I was not surprised when Minds Count was chosen to be the NSW Young Lawyers Charity of the Year. The Foundation aims to "decrease work related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety."
This "focus" continued throughout the MYA, where we continued to increase the awareness in this area amongst young lawyers (and lawyers in general). Professor Davis spoke about the challenges she faced as a young lawyer and the pressures on law graduates. She gave excellent tips and tricks on how to navigate the legal profession, and recommended that we all read widely.
What I found most intriguing was the presentation by Dr Hannah Korrel, a Clinical Neuropsychologist and a Psychologist. She spoke about the neuropsychology of what happens to our brains and bodies when we are chronically stressed and burnt out. Did you know that our brains cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional pain? (I.e., the same region of our brains gets activated.)
Some simple things you can do every day to prevent burnout and "be your best self":
Take active, not passive, breaks - I, for one, am guilty of watching Netflix mindlessly to avoid stress, but I know that it does not improve my mental health. It does not make it worse, nor does it make it better. It merely keeps it where it is.
Engage in active self-care - Do activities you enjoy and you know are good for you, like exercising or getting a massage.
Sleep - Dr Korrel stressed the importance of this one. Even if you do those dead lifts, pamper your skin with a 8-step skin routine every night, or take gummy vitamins, it does not matter if you do not get enough sleep. (Not at least 7 hours or between 6-8 hours, but 8 hours.)
Journaling - It evokes mindfulness, and you will change your brain with what you write.
Our final session was a Design Thinking workshop with Linda-Rose Daya from Gilbert + Tobin, who pushed us to think outside the box… and how to peel post-it notes. It was a very engaging and unique workshop to promote creative thinking and independent ideas in a group setting.
The MYA concluded at approximately 4:00pm, and was followed by the NSW Young Lawyers Gala Dinner, where we played trivia, danced to live music, and had too many drinks to count.