Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Values. The Flip-Side of the Wellbeing Coin

Author(s): Vivien Holmes

Both ancient philosophers and modern psychologists assure us that our happiness and our values are inextricably linked: true happiness and wellbeing come not from the mere pursuit of pleasure, but from living in accordance with values that give us a sense of meaning and connection with others and self. This chapter explores the relationship between happiness (defined as subjective wellbeing) and values, and the implications of this relationship for law students and lawyers, law schools and legal workplaces. Research shows that the more we enact, rather than just subscribe to, certain values, the greater will be our wellbeing. Further, the psychological factors that influence whether lawyers experience wellbeing also influence their ethical decision-making and level of professionalism. We know that law school curricula affect student wellbeing; law schools also play a critical role in supporting (or inhibiting) the development of professional values and in teaching skills to enable students and future lawyers to live out those values. After law school, workplace culture can profoundly influence our wellbeing, while also influencing whether we are able to express/enact our professional values. Evidence suggests that effective regulation can encourage legal practices to improve their ethical cultures, which in turn could improve wellbeing. We need as a profession to attend to this connection between wellbeing and values; to fulfil its role in society, the legal profession needs to be well, which means being deeply connected to values.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Being Well in the Law

Being Well in the Law

Author(s): Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Stephen Tang, Colin James, Ian Hickey

When it comes to wellbeing, NSW Young Lawyers, the Australian National University and the Law Society of New South Wales are keen to lead. Being Well in the Law is a toolkit for lawyers. It draws on expert and multidisciplinary knowledge about the breadth of mental health problems and offers ideas to help everybody, young and old, deal with depression, anxiety and stress and learn to better manage the business and pressures of work and life. We all share a responsibility to continue the conversation about mental health. In the legal profession this is especially important as lawyers have a heightened pre disposition to depression and mental illness. 

This small but important book, with its varied suggestions and personal stories from people who have been touched by mental illness, is a solid first step towards a happier and healthier world.

View the guide online, order a free copy online, or pick up a free copy in person

Centre: PEARL

Research theme: Law and Psychology, Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Being Well in the Law: A Guide for Lawyers

Author(s): Stephen Tang, Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Colin James

Being Well in the Law is a toolkit for lawyers. It has been well informed by the input of experts from the Australian National University and Sydney University, as well as a range of other experts. It draws heavily on multidisciplinary knowledge embracing mindfulness and meditation, and evokes ideas to help us switch off from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate anxiety.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Health, Law and Bioethics, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

Teaching Professionalism in Legal Clinic – What New Practitioners Say is Important

Author(s): Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Stephen Tang

Anecdotal evidence suggests new lawyers may struggle as they begin legal practice. Little is known empirically about their actual experiences. This paper provides some insights into what occurs in this transition. It reports on a qualitative study currently underway tracking new lawyers through their first year of practice. Preliminary analysis of data from interviews and from workplace observations suggests clinical legal education can play a significant role in smoothing the transition and helping new lawyers develop their sense of professionalism.

This project builds on similar UK research which followed law graduates into their vocational training year. The authors tracked new lawyers in the context of their post-admission practice with a small cohort of recently admitted lawyers interviewed and observed in their day to day practice. This paper describes what these new lawyers say is important to an effective transition – developing autonomy, learning to deal with uncertainty and finding an accommodation between their developing professional values and those modelled by their firm and colleagues. Clinical programs offer opportunities for an early reflective exposure to these experiences.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Health, Law and Bioethics, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

Our Common Future: The Imperative for Contextual Ethics in a Connected World

Author(s): Vivien Holmes

Global connectedness offers possibilities for development and peace, and poses threats to security and the environment, on a scale we are still comprehending. Transactional and advisory lawyers are in a powerful position to affect the global impact of their clients' conduct. The world needs lawyers to recognize the global effect of their conduct, and to take responsibility for it, through a contextual approach to legal ethics. Lawyers must firmly and clearly restate their ethics, making them relevant to an environment where borders and boundaries no longer reliably define their accountability. The world cannot afford for lawyers to do otherwise.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Legal Education, The Legal Profession

Teaching Professionalism in Legal Clinic – What New Practitioners Say is Important

Author(s): Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Stephen Tang

Anecdotal evidence suggests new lawyers may struggle as they begin legal practice. Little is known empirically about their actual experiences. This paper provides some insights into what occurs in this transition. It reports on a qualitative study currently underway tracking new lawyers through their first year of practice. Preliminary analysis of data from interviews and from workplace observations suggests clinical legal education can play a significant role in smoothing the transition and helping new lawyers develop their sense of professionalism.

This project builds on similar UK research which followed law graduates into their vocational training year. The authors tracked new lawyers in the context of their post-admission practice with a small cohort of recently admitted lawyers interviewed and observed in their day to day practice. This paper describes what these new lawyers say is important to an effective transition – developing autonomy, learning to deal with uncertainty and finding an accommodation between their developing professional values and those modelled by their firm and colleagues. Clinical programs offer opportunities for an early reflective exposure to these experiences.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Health, Law and Bioethics, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

A Puppy Lawyer is Not Just for Christmas: Helping New Lawyers Successfully Make the Transition to Professional Practice

Author(s): Tony Foley, Vivien Holmes, Stephen Tang

The research reported here is a pilot project which investigated the transitionary period from study to work for entry-level lawyers. The research was designed to identify factors which may assist new lawyers in making this a successful transition.

This is crucial research. There is no similar empirical work in Australia focusing on the transition towards a legal professional. The support and endorsement of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory ensured that the pilot could provide some valuable preliminary data.

The design of the study consisted in tracking a small sample of newly admitted lawyers who volunteered to be followed through their first year. The sample consisted of eleven participants (4 male and 7 female) employed variously in private and public practice in the territory. Their median age was 25 years. They worked in a range of different practices – small, medium and large private firms, and government legal practices, legal aid and community legal centres.

Data was collected between 2009 and early 2011. The study used a multi-method qualitative research approach to gather information through interviews, participant observation and self-recording of daily work activity.

Data analysis showed the crucial importance of appropriate supervision and mentoring to new lawyers’ capacity to gain autonomy and competence. Also notable was new lawyers’ need to see their work as intrinsically worthwhile, either when it provided a direct public service or more indirectly. Pro bono work was important to them. New lawyers were also keenly alert to the real ethical climate of the practice in which they worked. The way a practice treated its staff (both professional and support) was seen as a reliable indicator of its ethical culture.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, PEARL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Health, Law and Bioethics, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

The Legal Profession in Times of Turbulence

Author(s): Vivien Holmes

From 15 to 17 July 2010, over 150 lawyers, academics and practitioners gathered at Stanford University for the Fourth International Legal Ethics Conference. The number of participants and the breadth and quality of the presentations at this conference were clear evidence of the continuing energy and enthusiasm amongst scholars and practitioners for the field of legal ethics. While the tranquil and beautiful summertime campus at Stanford and the quiet efficiency of the conference organising staff did not echo the theme of the conference (Times of Turbulence), many sessions during the full conference schedule did. In particular, we were constantly reminded of the rapid and complex changes occurring in legal practice across the globe, and the consequent challenges faced by both the legal profession and academia in understanding, practicing and teaching legal ethics.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

The Power of Rationalization to Influence Lawyers' Decisions to Act Unethically

Author(s): Vivien Holmes

This article explores the psychological literature on rationalization and connects it with contemporary questions about the role of in-house lawyers in ethical dilemmas. Using the case study of AWB Ltd, the exclusive marketer of Australian wheat exports overseas, it suggests that rationalizations were influential in the perpetuation by in-house lawyers of AWB's payment of kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.

The article explores how lawyers' professional rationalizations can work together with commercial imperatives to prevent in-house lawyers from seeing ethical issues as those outside the organisation would see them. In particular, where lawyers over-identify with their client's commercial point of view and convince themselves that their role is primarily about providing 'technical' advice on commercial matters, wilful or unintended 'ethical blindness' can result. Lawyers can end up involved in or perpetuating serious misconduct by their client organizations.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CCL, CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Law and Psychology, Legal Education, Private Law, Regulatory Law and Policy, The Legal Profession

What is the Right Thing to Do?: Reflections on the AWB Scandal and Legal Ethics

Author(s): Vivien Holmes

The Cole Inquiry resulted in a five volume report that extensively details the history of AWB Ltd’s dealings with Iraq under the Oil-for-Food Programme (OFFP). In this chapter, I reflect on the role AWB in-house lawyers played in the AWB-Iraq story, exploring how lawyers who are too closely identified with the perceived interests of the client can step over the ethical (even if not the criminal) line, and work against both the client’s best interests and the public interest. I reflect also on the AWB lawyers’ role as counsel for a corporation whose actions had global ramifications. Legal practice today has global reach and I discuss the implications of this for our professional ethical horizons.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Legal Education, The Legal Profession

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