Janet Stearns, ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs Advisory Committee Member and Dean of Students and Lecturer of Law at University of Miami School of Law, authored this post.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar announced changes to the 2021-2022 edition of the Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (“the Standards”) for all accredited Law Schools (199) in February 2022.  The Law School Committee of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), under the leadership of Janet Stearns (University of Miami School of Law) and David Jaffe (Washington College of Law, American University), dedicated three years to advocating for changes in the Standards to promote and support our agenda of well-being in the profession. In the midst of the global pandemic, the Council of the Section of Legal Education finally heard our pleas. The ABA House of Delegates considered this package of proposals presented in Resolution 300 at the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting on February 14, and CoLAP Chair Tish Vincent was invited to provide remarks in favor of Resolution 300. In light of the overwhelming support in the House of Delegates, Chair Vincent waived her opportunity to speak to the Delegates, but her statement eloquently articulated our Commission’s passion for these changes.

Significantly, the ABA added a requirement of “professional identity” education in the curriculum and has defined this to include “well-being practices” (Interpretation 303-5). The Standards further added a new requirement of “information on well-being resources” for all law schools. New Interpretation 508-1 defines these resources as follows:

Law student well-being resources include information or services related to mental health, including substance use disorders. Other law student well-being resources may include information for students in need of critical services such as food pantries or emergency financial assistance. Such resources encompass counseling services provided in-house by the law school, through the university of which the law school is a part, or by a lawyer assistance program. Law schools should strive to mitigate barriers or stigma to accessing such services, whether within the law school or larger professional community. (emphasis added).

Note that the Standards expressly mention Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAP’s) for the first time ever, and thus envisions a world of closer partnership between law schools and LAPs. This is progress!  

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs is grateful to many supporters of this project. The ABA Law Student Division and the ABA Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, as well as the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, were partners at critical junctures in this campaign. Many organizations also advocated for these changes, including the AALS Section on Balance and Clinical Legal Education Section, and many other deans, professors and lawyers who submitted comments to the Council.

The CoLAP Law School Committee has written to all law school deans and deans of students inviting further reflection this summer on the ways that we can partner to improve services and initiatives around law student well-being. CoLAP members should seize this opportunity to outreach with law schools in your jurisdictions. Carpe Diem!

For more information on the background of these rules, please see Dean Stearns article, Baseball and Balance: A Case Student in Advocating for Institutional Change (AALS Section on Balance Newsletter, December, 2021).  Dean Jaffe has written What ABA Student Well-Being Standards Mean for Law Firms (Law360, March 15, 2022).

CoLAP’s Law School Committee is eager to hear from CoLAP Café readers and hopes that we can continue to leverage changes in the Standard towards changes in law school culture and ultimately in the legal profession.


CoLAP Celebrates Important Changes to the Legal Education Standards Addressing Law Student Well-Being 

This post is authored by Tish Vincent, Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) is celebrating the decision of the ABA House of Delegates to concur in the action of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar to amend Standards 205, 303, 507 and 508 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (Standards).

Over the past three years, the CoLAP Law School Committee has been advocating diligently for revisions to the Standards to address critical issues of law student well-being. The process the Law School Committee followed was thorough and laborious. Many law school professors, deans of students, judges, lawyers, and staff of state lawyer assistance programs (LAPs) dedicated their time, expertise, and knowledge to this effort. The culmination of their efforts occurred at the ABA 2022 Virtual Midyear Meeting when Resolution 300 was presented to the House of Delegates for consideration.

On February 14, 2022, at the ABA Virtual Midyear Meeting, it was my privilege to be among the presenters scheduled to speak on the floor of the House of Delegates in support of Resolution 300. As it unfolded, the House of Delegates meeting picked up speed. The presentations by individuals in support and opposition of the proposed resolutions on the House calendar happened very quickly and efficiently. Those who were leading the meeting were advising those in the speakers waiting room of the best method of approaching the matter we were there to support. While I waited for my time to address the members of the House, I received the following information and guidance:

  • The meeting is moving very quickly, and the goal is to keep it moving at the same pace.
  • No one was scheduled to speak in opposition to Resolution 300.
  • The House of Delegates was strongly in support of concurring with Resolution 300, including our proposed revisions on law student well-being.
  • I was encouraged to waive giving my prepared remarks.

Then proposed Resolution 300 was called and presented to the members of the House. When my time came to speak in favor of Resolution 300, I greeted the House of Delegates Chair Barbara J. Howard, and the Members of the House, and made this statement:

I was prepared to provide brief remarks in support of Resolution 300. However, in noting the overwhelming support and no opposition, I hereby waive my remarks and look forward to its approval.

Resolution 300 passed by the ABA House of Delegates with strong support!

This change to the Standards has been a long time coming, and more changes will follow. At this time, the CoLAP community has something major to celebrate and I join them in doing so!

I share with you the remarks I had planned to deliver to the House of Delegates on February 14 at the ABA 2022 Virtual Midyear Meeting, highlighting the critical importance of providing law students with well-being resources and information.

Remarks prepared for delivery at the ABA 2022 Virtual Midyear Meeting to the House of Delegates in support of Resolution 300, sponsored by the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar [Undelivered].

Tish Vincent, Chair, ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs
February 14, 2022

Hello, Chair Howard and Members of the ABA House of Delegates.

As the Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, I speak in support of [Resolution 300 and] the House of Delegates concurring with revisions to Standards 205, 303, 507, and 508 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

The ABA CoLAP Law School Committee has partnered with the ABA Law Student Division for three years to advocate for revisions that will provide law students with needed information and resources to tend to their financial, cultural, and emotional well-being. Information on these matters will be provided to students early in their law school career and will be posted on the law schools’ websites. Students will be directed to counseling resources at the law school, the university with which it is affiliated, or the lawyer assistance program in that state.

The staff of Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAP) and CoLAP members who work in law schools witness the stress, depression and anxiety law students and new lawyers experience pertinent to matters of equality, bias and unfair treatment, financial problems during their law school career, and crushing student debt for some graduates as they establish their legal career. LAP staff are also aware of the incidence of mental conditions and substance use disorders that impair young attorneys’ ability to practice law competently.

The need for mental health and substance use disorder resources is great. The pandemic has only made this need more pronounced. The recent high-profile suicides of Congressman Jamie Raskin’s son Tommy Raskin (a Harvard law student) and Cheslie Kryst (a Wake Forest Law graduate) remind us of the urgency of this need.

These revisions will provide the nation’s law students with information and resources to be better able to cope with life’s challenges effectively.

I urge the House of Delegates to concur with these revisions.

2022 ABA National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs


There’s only one week left before the March 4th extended deadline to submit a program proposal for CoLAP’s 2022 ABA NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR LAWYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS scheduled to take place September 20-22 in Washington D.C. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. 

The CoLAP Conference Planning Committee is accepting program proposals relevant to the legal profession on a wide range of cutting-edge topics relating to mental health issues, substance use disorders, and well-being, including sessions on the mental health challenges of legal professionals in a post-pandemic world.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to Friday, March 4.


For questions, please contact Lucy DioGuardi at

CoLAP sponsored video “Speaking Out to End Stigma” honored with Telly Award

The ABA earned multiple honors in the 42nd annual Telly Awards, the premier worldwide recognition for exemplary video and television for marketing and advertising purposes, across all screens. In 2021, the Tellys received more than 12,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents, making this year’s honor particularly impressive.

Speaking Out to End Stigma,” sponsored by Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, is the Bronze Telly Winner (third place)in Non-Broadcast: Health and Wellness. Stigma, shame and fear frequently play a major role in an individual’s decision not to seek help when suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. To raise awareness about the nature of addiction and mental health distress in our profession, the Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs created an anti-stigma campaign highlighting the recovery stories of lawyers, judges and law students. The ABA is sending the message that recovery from addiction and mental illness is possible.

For the ABA article announcing the Award and to read more about the the other ABA honorees, click here

A Must-See Film: “Just Ask: How We Must Stop Minding Our Own Business in the Legal World”

CoLAP is honored to share the following film, “Just Ask: How We Must Stop Minding Our Own Business in the Legal World.” A collaborative project between Texas and Pennsylvania LAP Directors, Chris Ritter and Laurie Besden, the film was created to help provide the legal world with essential information about how to get help for oneself or colleagues. 

Research consistently shows that lawyers are the most-often depressed professionals out of 105 professions, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among attorneys after cancer and heart disease. Despite these facts, few lawyers are educated about depression and suicide prevention. 

The film includes personal stories from lawyers on how suicide and depression touched their lives and provides concrete ways to help colleagues or loved ones who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts.* It overviews resources and emphasizes the importance of having a conversation with a person of concern and encouraging them to seek help. 

Please share this important message with your network and help save a life! 

Link to video (it can be viewed or downloaded):

*Trigger warning: The linked video deals with the issue of suicide and suicide ideation, including descriptive stories from individuals who’s lives have been touched by suicide.

Well-Being Week in Law – Thank You!

Thank you for following CoLAP last week as we participated in Well-Being Week in Law! For our rockstar well-being coordinators across the profession, there’s an entire event planned this week, just for you. 

For the full calendar of events, go to

Out of respect for everyone’s Zoom fatigue, ideas for participating include readings, resources, and pre-recorded videos, in addition to a few live webinars. Programming will focus on organizational practices proven by science to have a substantial impact on workplace well-being. 

Please remember, addressing well-being in the legal profession is a year-round engagement – COLAP and your state LAPs are always here to help! 

Well-Being Week in Law – Day 5 – Feel Well!

Day 5 – It’s ok to not be ok!

It’s the last day of Well-Being Week in Law – how are you feeling?

Your emotional well-being is about learning how to identify, manage, AND value your emotions. Taking these steps can help all lawyers achieve goals and make more informed decisions.

The last ABA webinar of the week is “Changing the Headlines: Combating Lawyer Loneliness One Step at a Time,” from 1 – 2:00pm ET. You can register for this event here:

If not addressed, lawyer loneliness can spiral into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as a means to cope. Learn tools that enable you to build more meaningful, high-quality #relationships in your personal and professional lives.

Well-Being Week in Law – Day 4 – Connect!

An important part of well-being is your social well-being. Enjoying a true sense of belonging in our personal and professional communities helps us thrive socially as we connect with others.

Today’s fantastic ABA webinar is “Next Level Diversity: Why ‘Belonging’ is What Attorneys Really Want” from 1 – 2:30pm ET. This program offers a new way to approach diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives by acknowledging how belonging and well-being are inextricably linked.

Register here:

Well-Being Week in Law – Day 3 – Engage and Grow!

Well-Being Week in Law – May 3-7, 2021

Let’s engage and grow together on this 3rd day of Well-Being Week in Law! Career and intellectual well-being mean that we celebrate seeking personal satisfaction, continuous learning and growth, as well as financial stability.

Join today’s ABA webinar “Empower Yourself: Strategies for Practicing Law in Stressful Times” from 1:00 – 2:00pm ET. Learn coping mechanisms to support a flourishing career and tips to manage anxiety, embrace challenges, and learn from failure.

Register here:

Well-Being Week in Law – Day 2 – Align!

Day 2 of Well-Being Week in Law focuses on your spiritual well-being. The goal today, and every day, is to cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose in work and life. Let’s align our work and lives with our values, goals, and interests.

To learn more about how inner alignment can support your well-being and lift up your daily experience of practicing #law, check out this ABA webinar today from 1 – 2:30pm ET: “It Doesn’t Have to be a Grind: How to Create a Practice You Love.”

Register here: