1 Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Mental Ill Health in the Profession and its Ethical Implications

LawCPD Author: Dr Michelle Sharpe
Dr. Michelle Sharpe
Barrister & Author Victorian Bar
1 CPD Point


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Why is the mental health of legal professionals coming under so much scrutiny?  Gain a deeper understanding of the issue, the possible causes, and how it can be addressed and managed.

This course examines the issue of mental ill-health in the legal profession and lawyers’ ethical duties in relation to managing their own mental health issues, or dealing ethically with another lawyer’s issues. 

The course discusses the prevalence of mental ill-health in the legal profession with reference to a number of studies conducted in Australia and North America.  It then examines the “fit and proper” person test for admission and practice which exists in most jurisdictions, and how this relates to issues of mental ill-health.

The course also discusses the duty of lawyers to notify a professional regulatory body in certain circumstances.  It also provides an overview of the options available to a regulatory body and the courts if such a notification is made.

This course aims to: 

  • outline the circumstances in which mental ill health may disentitle or restrict the ability of a lawyer to practice law;
  • identify the duties that may be owed by lawyers to notify a regulator about their own mental health condition; and
  • identify the duties that may be owed by lawyers upon becoming aware of the mental health condition of another lawyer.

Last Updated: January 2024

Meet the expert

LawCPD Author: Dr Michelle Sharpe
Dr. Michelle Sharpe
Barrister & Author Victorian Bar

Dr. Michelle Sharpe is a member of the Victorian Bar practicing in general commercial, consumer protection law and administrative law.

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  1. 5.0/5
    Very informative
    Unlike many LPD courses which are just reminders of long established known points, I learned quite a few new points, and it prompted me to look into this area further given my lack of knowledge in the area
  2. 5.0/5
    Always good to be reminded about mental health, its impact and our obligations.
  3. 5.0/5
    The course content was very comprehensive.
    The course materials were detailed and should be of the highest priority for the legal profession to consider.
  4. 5.0/5
    This is spot on.
    Very insightful and close to what I experience in my role as a family and criminal lawyer.
  5. 5.0/5
    Very important topic, exceptionally presented here. An issue not given nearly enough focus by the legal profession.
  6. 5.0/5
    The content of this course was very instructive.
  7. 5.0/5
    Excellent course.
    Excellent coverage of this important health area concerning practitioners.
  8. 5.0/5
    Eye-opening stuff
    This course was eye-opening.
  9. 5.0/5
    Good overview over a serious problem.
    Mental health will likely be a serious issue with time, given the toll on the profession of technology, the economy and increasing complexity of life in general.
  10. 5.0/5
    Very well presented course
    Very informative.
  11. 5.0/5
    Helpful Information!
    Excellent course! A must for all lawyers!