New podcast helps lawyers to be sound of mind

MLS alumnae Jennifer Lim (BA(Media&Comm) 2011, LLB 2011) and Natalie Campbell (BA 2009, LLB 2009) met while working as Associates at the Federal Court of Australia. While chatting over their lunch breaks they discovered many shared interests, having gone to the same law school and worked at the same firm; but it was their shared passion for addressing the mental health risks facing lawyers that led them to create a new podcast, ‘Compos Mentis.’

Image above (L-R): Natalie Campbell and Jennifer Lim. Image credit: Lucy of Streets of Melbourne

Compos Mentis, meaning ‘sound of mind,’ explores some of the unspoken realities of legal practice and is something Lim and Campbell hope will be a useful resource for lawyers on how to stay happy, healthy and productive while working in law.

Through their anecdotal experience and empirical research both lawyers were aware that there are many unique and unrelenting pressures in the profession.

“The pressure of dealing with billable hours and adversarial advocacy are just some of the issues that can lead to undesirable consequences for personal wellbeing,” Campbell says.

“One in three lawyers experience stress-related illness, but we do not think such suffering is or should be inevitable as a result of working as a lawyer,” Lim adds.

The show explores themes such as stress, mindfulness, perfectionism and authenticity and identifies concrete tools to help achieve wellbeing while working in the law.

“We hope to use our own experience to spark more authentic conversations about mental health in the legal profession,” Campbell says.

As well as bringing their own experiences to the show, the two lawyers undertake extensive research, each reading articles, studies and conducting interviews to gather information on relatable topics.

“We find that way we both bring a fresh perspective to the conversation,” Lim says.

Campbell is a member of the Victorian Bar and Lim works full time in human rights legal policy, meaning they squeeze their podcast recordings into their lunch times or over the weekend.

Compos Mentis is a non-commercial passion project, so the legwork is motivated by a desire to help other lawyers,” Campbell says.

“We try to divide the work evenly but are both very flexible – otherwise we’d be very non-compos mentis!”

With their lawyer instincts kicking in Lim and Campbell are very cautious not to give medical advice.

"We instead hope that our conversations can be a gateway for helping lawyers to manage their own wellbeing, in addition to other professional support they may seek,” Lim says.

Another positive to come out of the project has been a consolidation of friendship.

“The best thing is that our friendship has grown through co-hosting Compos Mentis together, it’s so much fun recording a podcast with your friend,” Lim and Campbell agree.

Even though they didn’t meet at Melbourne Law School, they both attended for their studies and each came away with their own memories.

“My favourite memory of MLS was the wonderful faculty such as John Tobin who invigorated my passion for law, and living in London for a semester on the Center for Transnational Legal Studies exchange program,” says Lim.

Campbell’s favourite memory also involves international travel, “Going to Geneva as part of the Institutions in International Law subject was a highlight, but also the fantastic teaching staff and being part of a diverse community of students.

“I’m currently still studying at MLS now doing my LLM in Public and International Law,“ says Campbell.

Compos Mentis is available online or on iTunes.