Online registration is now open for the ABA 2019 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs taking place September 24-26, 2019 in Austin, Texas. This year’s conference theme is “From Surviving to Thriving: LAPs Lead the Way,” Lawyers Helping Lawyer in Austin.
The conference offers a unique opportunity to learn about issues that directly impact the legal community’s well-being, and the services and resources offered by lawyer assistance programs. There will be sessions of interest for judges, disciplinary staff, bar leaders, lawyer assistance program directors and staff, law school administrators and law firm managers, and abundant opportunities to network with LAP personnel and volunteers from across the United States and Canada.
Register by August 3, 2019 to receive discounted registration rates.
The Policy Committee of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession developed a Well-Being Template for Legal Employers to provide suggested guidelines to legal employers for responding to an employee who is experiencing impairment due to a substance use disorder, mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. The template is intended to serve as a tool that can be modified as needed to suit the individual employer. Each employer should tailor this document to meet the specific needs of its workplace, taking into consideration size, resources and practice setting, as well as consult with labor and employment counsel.
Access the template here.
Mark your calendars for CoLAP’s 2019 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs, “From Surviving to Thriving: LAPs Lead the Way,” taking place September 24-26, 2019 at the Hilton Austin Hotel, Austin, Texas.
The conference will have sessions of interest to judges, disciplinary staff, bar leaders, risk managers, lawyer assistance program directors and staff, law school administrators and law firm managers, as well as abundant opportunities to network with LAP personnel and volunteers. The conference also features an Exhibit Hall of facilities that address substance use disorders, mental health issues and well-being.
This is a unique opportunity to learn about issues that directly impact the legal community’s well-being, and the services and resources offered by lawyer assistance programs.
Check back on the ABA CoLAP website for more information as it becomes available.
The Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) has launched a new Lawyer Wellbeing Website. The website features a calendar of wellness-related events, on-demand CLE webinars on wellness topics such as mindfulness and emotional intelligence, and articles and toolkits, such as the ABA Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers. And of course, it links to Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers-Connecticut, Inc, the organization that provides assistance to those in the Connecticut legal community experiencing substance use or mental health health issues.
Also included is a new Wellbeing Video Series. The first episode in the series, “Living with a Mental Health Condition,” featuring Kathleen Flaherty, CBA member, has three parts: Part 1 – Becoming a Lawyer; Part 2 – Law School and Passing the Bar; and Part 3 – Staying Well and Balanced.
Check out the new CBA Lawyer Wellbeing Website here.
ABA President Bob Carlson’s “President’s Message,” in the December 2018 issue of the ABA Journal, highlights efforts the ABA is making to improve well-being in the legal profession. Two such initiatives, organized by the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, are a toolkit that offers practical guidance to legal employers who want to join the lawyer well-being movement by launching organizational initiatives, and a pledge campaign calling upon legal employers to adopt a seven-point framework to improve the substance use and mental health landscape of the legal profession. The Working Group was formed in September 2017 at the request of Immediate Past-President Hilarie Bass, and continues to operate under the leadership of President Carlson.
A 2016 study conducted by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation revealed troubling rates of depression, anxiety and problem drinking among attorneys. President Carlson reminds readers that, “This issue should be important to all of us in the profession.” He writes, “To be an ethical, competent lawyer, you first need to be a healthy lawyer.”
At the 2018 ABA Midyear Meeting in February, the House of Delegates passed Resolution 105 making it ABA policy to support the goal of reducing mental health and substance use disorders, and urging stakeholders within the legal profession to consider the recommendations set out in, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change,” from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Access the full article, “It’s time to promote our health: ABA mobilizes on multiple fronts to address well-being in the legal profession.”
Also, watch this Video Message from President Carlson on the ABA’s lawyer well-being initiatives.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (globally) and the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week in the US. Today also marks the launch of a new Pledge Campaign from the American Bar Association aimed at improving the substance use and mental health landscape of the legal profession.
The Campaign, organized by the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, calls upon legal employers to recognize that substance use and mental health problems represent a significant challenge for the legal profession, acknowledge that more can and should be done to improve the health and well-being of lawyers, and pledge to support the Campaign and work to adopt and prioritize its seven-point framework for building a better future.
The ABA press release announcing its launch includes a quote from ABA President Bob Carlson in support of the initiative and a list of over a dozen firms that have already pledged their support.
Learn more on the ABA Working Group website.
The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s 2017 report shined a spotlight on evidence that too many lawyers face mental health and substance use disorders or otherwise aren’t thriving. Wanting to support the effort to catalyze positive change, American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass formed a Presidential Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession in September 2017. Its focus is on helping legal employers support healthy work environments, which are critical for lawyer wellness. Research shows that if workplace cultures support well-being, lawyers will be better able to make good choices that allow them to thrive and be their best for clients, colleagues, and work organizations.
Many legal employers are ready to become positive change agents but have been unsure where to start. The new Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers is designed to help. It offers tools and practical guidance for legal employers who want to join the lawyer well-being movement by launching organizational initiatives. The Toolkit, created by Presidential Working Group member Anne Brafford (a lawyer and organizational science researcher) can be viewed as a design prototype. It is meant to be a living document that will continue to develop and improve—an effort in which you are encouraged to participate. You can do so by trying out the Toolkit and offering feedback on what’s helpful, what can be improved, and what other resources are available. The Toolkit is offered as another step on the path to lawyer well-being—to help lawyers be their best as they carry out their critical roles contributing to the vitality of our government, business sector, community safety, and individual lives.
Also available is the Well-Being Toolkit Nutshell: 80 Tips For Lawyer Thriving, summarizing 80 of the Toolkit’s key items to help get you started on a lawyer well-being initiative.
Note for Use: The Toolkit is filled with electronic hyperlinks to websites and online resources that appear in blue underlined type. As a result, it is intended primarily for online viewing. If you decide to print the document in hard copy, select “fit to page” in your print dialogue box to ensure proper printing.
An article in the Summer 2018 issue of The Bar Examiner from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) features the report from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.” Published in August 2017, the report recommends ways in which all legal stakeholder can improve the well-being of the legal profession. Author James Coyle, Co-Chair of the Task Force from its inception until his retirement in June 2018, sets out the Task Force recommendations with a focus on those targeted at the bar admissions community, and offers further guidance for bar admission representatives to expand their role in the lawyer well-being movement. Coyle discusses the circumstances that led to the formation of the Task Force, including studies revealing that lawyer well-being is at risk, and provides a comprehensive list of developments – both nationally and at the state level – that have occurred in response to the report. Endeavors at the American Bar Association, Conference of Chief Justices and NCBE are featured, and the endnotes contain a detailed inventory of initiatives occurring at the state level, such as the establishment of lawyer well-being task forces and the development of state action plans.
Read, “The Report of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and the Role of the Bar Admissions Community in the Lawyer Well-Being Movement,” by James C. Coyle in The Bar Examiner here.
The State Bar of Texas Podcast just released a new episode, titled “Depression and Addiction in the Mind of a Lawyer.”
In this episode, co-host Bree Buchanan and guest Brian Cuban candidly share their own experiences with addiction and depression and discuss how to recognize warning signs in others and encourage them to seek assistance. They further address how stigma associated with a refusal to acknowledge addiction as a medically-recognized disease prevents those who need it from seeking life-saving treatment.
They say that the goal is for lawyers, judges and law students to, at the first sign of trouble, feel okay reaching out for help – that they shouldn’t have to hit rock bottom first.
Bree Buchanan is the Director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas, Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. Brian Cuban is a Dallas-based attorney, addiction recovery advocate and author of The Addicted Lawyer.
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.
Proposed Resolution 103, which adopts an ABA Model Impairment Policy for Legal Employers and urges legal employers to do the same, will go before the ABA House of Delegates at the Annual Meeting in August. The sponsors of proposed Resolution 103 are the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, an ABA Presidential Initiative led by President Hilarie Bass, and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP).
The foundation of this policy is the recognition that well-being is essential to an attorney’s duty of competence, and that impairment is antithetical to both the competence and quality service expected by the clients of the legal employer. To support this duty, legal employers must demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their personnel, to the prevention of impairments, and to assisting their employees in obtaining treatment when needed.
This policy deals only with the impairment of a legal employee, a sub-set of the overall well-being of a legal employee, and is not meant to encompass the panoply of all well-being initiatives that can be implemented in the legal employer setting. Further, this policy would reinforce and bring up to date an existing ABA policy passed by the House of Delegates in 1990, the Model Law Firm/Legal Department Personnel Impairment Policy and Guidelines.
Everyone is encouraged to talk to their state delegates and other ABA entities to garner support for Resolution 103. Contact Tracy Kepler at email@example.com to provide your support or feedback.