April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month is a “national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.” It is sponsored by the Health Resource Network (HRN), a non-profit health education organization. Throughout the month, HRN works to encourage others to develop and disseminate educational materials and to hold events dedicated to stress awareness.

In 2016, ABA CoLAP and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation conducted a study to examine alcohol use, substance abuse, mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors of lawyers. Twenty-three percent of respondents reported experiencing mild or higher levels of stress.

Visit the CoLAP website for resources and articles on stress in the legal profession.

IL Supreme Court Mandates Mental Health, Substance Use and Diversity CLE

On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court amended Rule 794(d) of its Continuing Legal Education Requirements to bolster diversity, substance use and mental health training in the profession. Starting July 1, 2017, lawyers in Illinois will be required to complete at least one hour of continuing legal education in the area of diversity and inclusion and at least one hour in the area of mental health and substance abuse to satisfy their Professional Responsibility CLE obligations.

The changes do not increase the total number of hours needed to fulfill the professional responsibility requirement, and attorneys will still be permitted take the year-long Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program as an alternative.

This comes not long after the ABA House of Delegates approved changes to its CLE Model Rule, adding diversity and substance use or mental health requirements.

Q&A on Taking Time for Treatment

Back in January we posted about a “mailbag” column inviting readers to submit their mental health and substance use questions to Patrick Krill, strategic advisor to law firms on addiction and mental health problems.

Most recently, a reader asked, “What advice do you have for a busy lawyer to get help for an addiction and mental health problem without suffering a career setback? I have a colleague who should really take some time off and get well, but she is unwilling to step away from her practice out of fear of losing any part of what she has built.”

Read Krill’s response, “How to Get Addiction Treatment Without Killing Your Legal Career” at LAW.COM.



Law Schools: Today is National Mental Health Day

The ABA Law Student Division has selected today, March 28th, as the official National Mental Health Day at law schools across the country. Law schools are encouraged to sponsor educational programs and events that teach and foster breaking the stigma associated with severe depression and anxiety among law students and lawyers.

Looking for ideas on what to share? Try these:

Lawyer Assistance Programs provide confidential services and support to judges, lawyers and law students who are facing substance use disorders or mental health issues. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, contact your state or local LAP. Access a directory of lawyer assistance programs here. 



Free Recording of Resilience Webinar Now Available

The ABA webinar, “Fierce & Gritty: Resilience Training for Lawyers,” aired on December 19, 2016. A free recording of that program is now available to view – spread the word!

As a reminder, here is the program description: As lawyers, many people depend on us to be at our best. This includes our clients, who depend on us to guide, help, and protect them. It also includes our families and friends, for whom we want to be our best selves. Developing resilience is critical for lawyers to maintain fitness to practice and to avoid running afoul of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct or applicable state rules. We need to be able to bounce back quickly from setbacks, face challenges with a positive perspective, and feel energized rather than depleted. Fortunately, resilience is a collection of competencies that can be developed. This webinar will provide a general overview of how to build resilience, including strategies taught by the U.S. Army to soldiers in combat.

Access the free version of “Fierce & Gritty: Resilience Training for Lawyers” here.

Find more information, including sponsorship and speakers, here.

Judge Tim A. Baker Talks Treatment

In a recent The Indiana Lawyer.com article, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker begins by recognizing how judges, lawyers and law students face mental health issues and chemical dependencies, which can put their lives and careers at risk. And while Judge Baker remarks that these threats “come in many forms,” he continues to say, “fortunately, so do treatment options.”

The article goes on to demonstrate the various types and levels of treatment available – from the more common options like outpatient therapy to the more intensive like inpatient treatment – with the help of medical experts who have experience treating the legal profession. Among the contributors is Terry Harrell, Executive Director of the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. As Dr. Paul H. Earley puts it, lawyer assistance programs are the “secret sauce” to getting better.

Access the article, “Baker: What does treatment look like for lawyers, judges in need?”


Snapshots of Upcoming Programs of Note

YLS: Mental Health for Lawyers & Law Students
As a lawyer, your brain is your most valuable asset, and the practice of law is constantly challenging that asset. For the mind to function optimally, it is important to take care of it. Learn more.

Sponsored by the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section Health and Wellness Committee, and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

March 14, 2017 at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School

The Healthy & Happy Lawyer: An Oxymoron?
A happy and healthy lawyer is a better lawyer. What really makes a happy lawyer? And, with all the stresses attached to practice, how is it possible to sustain a practice without jeopardizing your health and happiness? Learn more.

An ABA TechShow Panel

March 17, 2017 in Chicago

The Opioid Epidemic: Impact on Public Health, Regulatory and Private Practice Lawyers
The opioid epidemic is one of the most threatening public health crises in recent decades. As pain management has become more of a treatment priority, public health, regulatory and private practice lawyers all play an important role in reversing this trend. Learn more.

An ABA CLE Webinar

March 20, 2017

Policy, Process & Prevention: A Systems Approach to Improving the Health and Wellbeing of the Profession
This program will highlight key results of the Survey of Law Student Well-Being and the 2016 landmark study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP). Learn more.

Joint program with attendees of the National Forum on Client Protection at the 43rd ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility

June 2, 2017 in St. Louis