The IBA Professional Wellbeing Commission launches International Guidelines for Wellbeing in Legal Education

Wednesday 13 March 2024

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The International Bar Association (IBA) Professional Wellbeing Commission has announced the launch of its International Guidelines for Wellbeing in Legal Education (the Guidelines) – a comprehensive resource designed to promote wellbeing in the lawyers of the future. The issuance of these Guidelines represents the commitment of the IBA to improving the wellbeing of legal professionals around the world and to promoting the issue of wellbeing as a core priority for all those studying or teaching law and working within the legal profession. The Guidelines follow on from the Wellbeing Commission’s ground-breaking survey and report in 2021 that involved the IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit’s work in this critical area.

The guidelines are made up of ten recommendations, encouraging law schools to:

  • acknowledge the importance of, and actively promote, wellbeing in legal education;
  • abandon a view that wellbeing issues should be seen as signs of weakness;
  • raise awareness of the different ways in which wellbeing can be addressed and prioritised in law schools;
  • make a commitment to evidence-based, long-lasting change in addressing wellbeing and the challenges faced in legal education;
  • continually assess and evaluate the efficacy of changes and initiatives designed to promote wellbeing;
  • ensure policies and procedures within legal education reflect the importance of student, faculty and staff wellbeing;
  • foster an open dialogue between students, faculty and staff, promoting a culture of trust and inclusivity;
  • commit to addressing systemic problems, such as excessive competitiveness and lack of empathy;
  • recognise intersectionalities, including the benefits to wellbeing of embracing equality, diversity and inclusion; and
  • sharing best practice examples in an ongoing dialogue both internally and externally.

Dr Emma Jones, IBA Professional Wellbeing Commissioner and co-author of the Guidelines, said: ‘The IBA’s 2021 report refers to a crisis in wellbeing within the legal profession.These new guidelines place legal education at the heart of our response. We must act now to ensure the lawyers of the future are able to prioritise wellbeing without fear of stigmatisation. We need to challenge the damaging cultural norms which have come to exist within the law, and promote thriving and flourishing amongst students, faculty and staff.’

The competitive nature of the profession, the high-pressure environment and the academic demands of the legal field have been linked to higher-than-average levels of stress, anxiety and depression among students, faculty and staff in legal education, according to research. Legal education is key to shaping the professional, social and cultural norms that exist in the profession, and how the lawyers of the future view their mental wellbeing.

Deborah Enix-Ross and Steven Richman, Co-Chairs of the IBA Professional Wellbeing Commission added: ‘These guidelines are a proactive response to an endemic problem within our profession. They are designed not just to ameliorate the detrimental effects of poor mental health in the law, but to positively enhance the wellbeing of students and staff, allowing them to thrive. They follow directly from the core findings of our survey and have global relevance.’

The 2021 IBA survey and its resultant report Mental Wellbeing in the Legal Profession: A Global Report identified a ‘global crisis’ in the wellbeing of lawyers in all jurisdictions and sectors of the law. It formulated a series of principles to be implemented across the profession, including in legal education. The Guidelines launched today take inspiration from those principles and are specifically designed to be applied in legal education and training settings, both academic and vocational, pre- and post-qualification.

The Guidelines follow the definition of wellbeing offered in the IBA’s 2021 report, mirroring the World Health Organization description of good mental health as: ‘a state where: “[…] every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”’.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material:
  2. The International Bar Association Professional Wellbeing Commission was established in 2022 as a permanent body within the Association dedicated to improving the wellbeing of lawyers and legal professionals around the world.
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

  4. Find the IBA on social media here:


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