The West Virginia Supreme Court and the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) have responded to the call from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being to create a state action plan to address substance use and mental health issues among the legal profession.
In 2016, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being formed in response to groundbreaking research confirming troubling levels of mental health issues and substance use disorders among law students and lawyers. Their work culminated in the August 2017 report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, which sets out 44 ways in which a variety of stakeholders can shift the culture of the legal profession towards one of well-being. Among those recommendations is the development of “state-level action plans” that build from and grow upon the Report.
At the end of February, the newly-formed Illinois Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, established by the Illinois LAP, held its first meeting. On Wednesday, March 21st, Chief Justice Margaret Workman issued an order to establish the West Virginia Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Learn more about the Illinois Task Force in, “LAP Forms Illinois Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being,” from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
Learn more about the West Virginia Task Force in, “WV Supreme Court establishes task force for lawyer well-being,” from the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The ABA Law Student Division has selected 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.
In recognition of Mental Health Day, from 1-2pm ET the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (@ABACoLAP) and Law Student Division (@ABAlsd) will be hosting a live Twitter Chat on law student wellness with special guests, Mistie Bauscher, former conditional admittee (@bauschlawyer), Brian Cuban, author of The Addicted Lawyer (@bcuban) and Amanda Lee, Harvard Law School Student Government President (@HLS_StudentGov). This national Twitter Chat aims to encourage students to seek help when they need it, by addressing questions around stigma, bar application character and fitness, and anything else on the minds of students and those who care about them.
All are encouraged to follow along by tracking tweets with #LawStudentWellness and to participate with questions and comments by using #LawStudentWellness in your tweets.
Continue to check back for developments from CoLAP and the Law Student Division leading up to and on Mental Health Day.
Download the flyer and spread the word!
The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) has produced a podcast series about overcoming substance use disorders, mental health issues and addiction. The lawyers featured in this series have all agreed to tell their story in the hope that it will reduce the stigma surrounding these issues and encourage others to get the help they need.
Episode 6 features Courtney Wylie, former lawyer, certified leadership coach and Member of the CoLAP Advisory Committee. Ms. Wylie currently designs and runs leadership and professionalism programs in-house at an Am Law 100 firm.
Click here to access all available episodes in the series.
Looking for something to listen to during your commute to work? Here are some podcast episodes and series worth checking out:
You’re in a pickle. Can a lawyer assistance program help? From the ABA Journal Asked & Answered Podcast
Bree Buchanan talks about how lawyers assistance programs work, and how a person can reach out for assistance.
The State Bar of Michigan’s “On Balance” Podcast Series
Hosted by JoAnn Hathaway of the bar’s Practice Management Resource Center and Tish Vincent of its Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, the series focuses on the need for interplay between practice management and lawyer-wellness for a thriving law practice.
Attorney Mental Health and Wellness, from The Florida Bar Podcast
Larry Krieger expands on why attorneys often struggle with depression and the wellbeing factors that may lead to satisfaction in a legal career.
ABA Midyear 2018: The ABA’s Opioid Summit, from the Legal Talk Network On the Road Podcast
Jack Young talks about why the ABA’s Opioid Summit is important and how it will help lawyers deal with the crisis both professionally and personally.
Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession, from the Legal Talk Network On the Road Podcast
Jeff Kuester talks about functional alcoholism and why it’s important for lawyers to monitor their alcohol consumption.
Voices of Recovery Podcast Series, from the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs
A podcast series about overcoming substance use disorders, mental health issues and addiction. The lawyers featured in this series have all agreed to tell their story in the hope that it will reduce the stigma surrounding these issues and encourage others to get the help they need.
Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program Voices of Recovery and Stories of Recovery Podcast Series
A podcast where Texas attorneys discuss how they reclaimed their lives from substance abuse and mental health issues. We bring you these podcasts—and these lawyers are coming forward with their stories—to let members of the State Bar of Texas know that help is available and recovery is possible.
A recent article in the ABA Section of Litigation’s Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter makes the case for improving lawyer well-being to achieve greater diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
In August 2017, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being released the report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, which sets out 44 recommendations for legal stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of the legal profession, including a call for initiatives that prioritize diversity and inclusion.
In “Lawyer Well-Being: An Uncharted Path to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion,” authors Bree Buchanan and Jayne Reardon discuss in detail how well-being and diversity are intertwined, and how the stigma that prevents lawyers from seeking help can act as an even greater barrier for minority lawyers.
For those who missed it, video highlights are available from the panel, “Attorney Well-Being: It’s Your Life in the Balance, Right?” held on February 2nd at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver.
Deputy Federal Public Defender
Chair, ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs
Co-Chair, National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being
Director, Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program
Director, ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
Executive Director, Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia
Law Student, University of British Columbia
The program was sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.
Tune in for a live stream of the Stanford Law School program:
Thursday, February 8, 2018 | 2:45pm CST
As lawyers, we are taught to be problem identifiers and solvers, adherents to logical analysis to create resolution for complex emotional and business issues. And yet, as a profession, we face significant problems in our own population with mental health and substance abuse. In 2016, a large study found that 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent of lawyers experience depression, and 19 percent have anxiety symptoms. The study found younger attorneys in the first 10 years of practice have the highest incidence of these problems. In summer 2017, the New York Times published a remarkable piece describing the opiate addiction and eventual overdose death of a Wilson Sonsini partner, written by his ex-wife and our panelist, Eilene Zimmerman. The problems of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse reach across all tiers of our profession. The Center on the Legal Profession and the Office of Student Affairs will sponsor this panel discussion led by Professor Joe Bankman and featuring Ms. Zimmerman, Professor Andy Benjamin of University of Washington, and Patrick Krill, former practicing attorney and now mental health consultant. More information: In-Person | Live Stream