Wellbeing & support

Support and wellbeing
Stephen Tang

Stephen Tang

Lecturer, ANU School of Legal Practice, Psychologist

Wellbeing is not just a personal issue, but one deeply connected to the way we teach and study law.

Studying law is often difficult, but it shouldn’t be destructive. We at ANU believe that law school should be a meaningful and transformative time. We take a preventative and holistic approach to mental health and psychosocial concerns, but more than that, our approach to wellbeing means creating an environment where our students can thrive, grow and succeed in all areas of their life.

ANU was one of the first Australian law schools to recognise that we need to rethink how we teach law so that it doesn’t contribute to problematic levels of psychological distress. We’re carrying out world-leading research on the wellbeing of law students and lawyers, and use these findings to ensure that our law school culture and teaching practices reflect evidence-based best practice.

Wellbeing is not just a personal issue, but one deeply connected to the way we teach and study law.

We place an emphasis on the wellbeing of our students in everything we do at ANU Law.

We take the welfare of our students very seriously. Law is a demanding discipline to study, whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student. Most students at some point experience study-related stress, and ANU Law is committed to helping students manage that stress and successfully complete their degrees.

Student wellbeing is mainstreamed through all law study courses, where it is a central component of the teaching methodology. Our staff have undertaken academic research into the pressure on law students and lawyers, and use the findings to inform our teaching methods.

We believe that healthy learning environments produce the best lawyers.

Support for undergraduate students

ANU provides undergraduate students with a safe and supportive learning environment. There are a range of support services you can access if you are experiencing learning or personal difficulties. ANU is a culturally and ethnically diverse community, with over 100 different nationalities represented on campus.

Come and Have a Talk (CHAT)

The Come and Have A Talk program links first year law students with other experienced students and a staff member to help new students adjust to the rigors of a law degree. 

Other support programs available to ANU students are listed on the University’s health and wellbeing website.

Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL)

The College's Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) program is aimed at helping first-year students in their transition from high school to studying law at university, by helping them learn and practise the foundational legal skills they will need for the rest of their law degree. We run weekly study sessions in semester 1 facilitated by later year law students, so we also give students a chance to form relationships with and learn from older students as well as fellow first-year students.

Support for postgraduate students

Academic and professional staff are committed to creating a supportive environment at ANU Law.

A number of our staff have conducted extensive research into student and lawyer wellbeing, receiving national and international recognition for their work. This research informs our teaching methods.

In 2015, ANU hosted the fourth annual National Wellness for Law Forum. The aim of the Forum was to bring together members of the legal community who are committed to:

  • Addressing the high levels of psychological distress experienced in law
  • Promoting wellness at law school, in the legal academy, and in the profession.

ANU Law has played an integral part in the Wellness Network for Law.

ANU Law has formed a Wellbeing Steering Committee which works with students to provide support and resources to help you successfully complete your studies.

We place a strong emphasis on mentoring postgraduate students through their study, particularly in the ANU School of Legal Practice which provides Practical Legal Training (PLT). In the Professional Practice Core of PLT, for instance, every student is assigned a mentor, who is an academic member of staff. As a postgraduate student studying to be admitted to practice, you also have access to a clinical psychologist on campus, or over the phone.

ANU Law has also adopted best practice guidelines for wellbeing in the legal profession as recommended by the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation.

There are a number of additional support services available to ANU postgraduate law students, irrespective of your location in Australia.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team