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.

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