Judicial well-being

Judicial ethics and discipline

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being has released The Path to Lawyer Well-Being:  Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, a report with 44 recommendations “for minimizing lawyer dysfunction, boosting well-being, and reinforcing the importance of well-being to competence and excellence in practicing law.”  (The task force was initiated by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the National Organization of Bar Counsel, and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.)  The recommendations have 5 central themes:  “(1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors, (3) emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, (4) educating lawyers, judges, and law students on lawyer well-being issues, and (5) taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being…

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Upcoming CLE Webinar on Lawyer Well-Being

The Path to Lawyer Well-being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change

An ABA Free CLE Series Webinar
October 16, 2017 | 1:00 – 2:35 PM ET

Co-chairs of the National Task Force on Well-Being will discuss the group’s report, “The Path To Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change,” published August 2017. This groundbreaking initiative of the Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, National Organization of Bar Counsel and Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers puts into action the group’s mission of “creating a movement to improve the health and well-being of the legal profession.”

In this ABA Free CLE Series webinar, speakers will provide information on two recent studies that revealed the high rates of substance use and mental health disorders among law students and lawyers, statistics that served as catalysts for the report. They will present recommendations to multiple legal stakeholders, including legal employers, regulators and bar associations, on what they can each do to institute a culture change so that well-being becomes a priority. Much focus will be placed on ABA model rule 1.1, competence, and the recognition that well-being is an essential aspect of competent and ethical practice. Speakers will present information on how all members of the profession can work to promote lawyers’ well-being, thereby ensuring fitness to practice, competent representation and ethical engagement.

Learn more and register

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Those who don’t want to call can text HOME to 741741 to be connected to a live, trained counselor within a matter of minutes via the Crisis Text Line. Both resources are available 24/7.

Judges, lawyers and law students who are facing mental health concerns can also contact their local lawyer assistance program for assistance.

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) can help you promote awareness by sharing images and graphics on your website and social media accounts.

Access a recap of ABA CoLAP’s recent Suicide Prevention Twitter Chat, and a free recording of the ABA webinar, I’ve Got Your Back; You’ve Got My Ear: Suicide Prevention in the Legal Profession.

From NAMI: “While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic.”

Facebook-suicideprevention

 

Lawyer Well-Being in the News

August has been a big month for lawyer well-being! In a previous post, we reported on some comprehensive new recommendations for a variety of legal stakeholders created by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. Since their release, a number of news outlets, magazines, blogs and bars have taken notice, including:

LISTEN: Podcast: Patrick Krill on Addiction in the Legal Industry & the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, September 7, 2017)

Official ABA Press Release: Growing concern over well-being of lawyers leads to comprehensive new recommendations (ABA News, August 14, 2017)

1Ls, Prioritize Mental Health (The Harvard Law Record, August 31, 2017)

4 Ways Law Firms Can Help Battle Addiction (Law 360, August 24, 2017)

ABA releases report on improving lawyer well-being (The Indiana Lawyer, August 14, 2017)

ABA Report Promotes Changes to Treat Addiction, Depression (The American Lawyer, August 14, 2017)

ABA report seeks to transform attitudes on lawyer well-being (North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, September 6, 2017) Subscription required

A Clarion Call for Attorney Wellness (Law Week Colorado, August 24, 2017)

BigLaw At A ‘Crossroads’ On Mental Health, Report Finds (Law 360, August 14, 2017)

Culture Change Needed (Virginia Lawyers Weekly, September 5, 2017) Subscription required

How Dare You Send Me A Book On Addiction! Do You Think I Have A Problem? (Above the Law, August 16, 2017)

How Law Firms Can Help Their Lawyers’ Well-Being (Texas Lawyer, August 16, 2017)

How Lawyers Need to Be Healthier: Q&A (Bloomberg Law Big Law Business, August 6, 2017)

Judicial well-being, Judicial Ethics and Discipline, a blog of the Center for Judicial Ethics of the National Center for State Courts

Keeping Lawyers Mentally Fit Is on the Docket (Bloomberg BNA, August 24, 2017)

Lawyers and Addiction (Illinois Bar Journal, September 2017)

Law: Mental health resources lacking for attorneys (Bizwomen, August 16, 2017)

Lawyer Well-Being: A Call to Action (Ethical Grounds, The Unofficial Blog of Vermont’s Bar Counsel, August 18, 2017)

Lawyer Well-Being: Creating A Movement To Improve The Legal Profession (Forbes, August 15, 2017)

Lawyer wellness should be a priority, report says (Minnesota Lawyer, August 25, 2017)

National Task Force Report: Here, Now, a Watershed for a Lawyer’s Well-Being (Thompson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, August 14, 2017)

Shining a Light on Lawyers’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health (Illinois Supreme Court on Professionalism 2Civility Blog, August 15, 2017)

Some Law Schools Take the Lead in Students’ Well-Being, Report Finds (The National Law Journal, August 17, 2017)

State Lawyers’ Group Looks To Improve Attorney Well-Being (Wisconsin Public Radio News, August 15, 2017)

Substance Abuse: Tragic Story Highlights Need for Culture Change (State Bar of Wisconsin Inside Track, August 16, 2017)

The time to help lawyers with mental health services is now, new report says (ABA Journal, August 14, 2017)

The Lawyer Well-Being Movement: A National Task Force Recommends 44 Ways to a Healthier Environment for Attorneys (Texas Bar Journal, October 2017)

What Can Law Firms Do To Promote Well-Being? Suggestions From National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (Jeena Cho, August 20, 2017).


At the same time, various ABA publications released articles on issues involving attorney well-being.

The August 2017 issue of the ABA Law Practice Division’s Law Practice Today is called “The Attorney Well-Being Issue.” Features include:

Access The Attorney Well-Being Issue | August 2017 in full.

The ABA Young Lawyers Division TYL publication recently featured: How to Avoid a (Less than) Spectacular Burnout in Your Law Practice and How to Maintain Resilience When Dealing with a Mental Health Condition.

And the July/August 2017 issue of GPSOLO from the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division featured the article, Mindfulness: A Simpler Way to Alleviate Attorney Stress.

Let’s keep the conversation going about #LawyerWellbeing!

Note: This post is being updated on an ongoing basis as developments occur. 

JUST RELEASED! The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change

BREAKING NEWS:

“A coalition of groups, including the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, released today a comprehensive report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, aimed at addressing the problem of substance use and mental health disorders of lawyers.”

Read the full ABA Press Release,Growing concern over well-being of lawyers leads to comprehensive new recommendations.”

The report is a product of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, assembled in August 2016 to “create a movement towards improving the health and well-being of the legal profession.” Its participating entities include: ABA CoLAP; ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism; ABA Center for Professional Responsibility; ABA Young Lawyers Division; ABA Law Practice Division Attorney Wellbeing Committee; The National Organization of Bar Counsel; Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers; National Conference of Chief Justices; and National Conference of Bar Examiners.

The report’s recommendations focus on five central themes: (1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors, (3) emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, (4) educating lawyers, judges, and law students on lawyer well-being issues, and (5) taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.

The report provides recommendations – along with state action plans with simple checklists – to multiple legal stakeholders, including legal employers, regulators, the judiciary, law schools, professional liability carriers and bar associations.

Cover Page Image

Recognizing Rick Allan, Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program

Rick Allan, who served as the director of the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program (NLAP) since it first formed in 1996, retired from his position this summer. NLAP “offers help to all licensed lawyers, judges and law students troubled by substance abuse problems, cognitive decline, stress, depression and other types of disorders which may impair their ability to perform in a competent and professional manner.” Rick’s legacy is celebrated throughout the state and throughout the national LAP community.

From, “Saying Goodbye to an NLAP Institution,” in the Nebraska State Bar Association publication, The Nebraska Lawyer:

“After 21 years as the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program’s Director, serving more than 2000 impaired Nebraska lawyers and being on-call 24/7 for lawyers in need of immediate assistance, Rick Allan is finally taking some time for himself. Rick, who has been the Director of NLAP since its inception in 1996, is retiring from his position this summer.” Read full article.

From, “The NLAP Legacy,” written by Hon. Joseph F. Bataillon, President of the Nebraska State Bar Association:

“He made NLAP one of the finest lawyers’ assistance programs in the country. He recruited a core cadre of lawyers who assist our impaired sisters and brothers, their families, clients, the courts and the public. He expanded NLAP to provide assistance to lawyers facing any type of issue that impairs their ability to practice, including cognitive decline, stress, depression, and more.” Read full article.

Learn about what led Rick to his involvement with NLAP, as well as about problem drinking by lawyers in general, in the Omaha World-Herald article, “Kelly: Alcoholism among lawyers is ‘a lot more serious than people understand.’”

The Passing of David Brink, Former ABA President and Lawyer Assistance Advocate

Former ABA President David Brink has passed away at 97. By all accounts, Brink was a leader in and outside the legal profession. Brink served as president of the ABA in 1981-1982, president of the Minnesota State Bar Association in 1978-79, and president of the Hennepin County Bar Association in 1967-68. He was a trusts and estates lawyer for Dorsey and Whitney for more than 40 years. During WWII, Brink worked as a code breaker for the U.S. Navy. He was a longtime poet and writing teacher.

Brink is also recognized and remembered for his advocacy on behalf of lawyer assistance programs and members of the legal community facing substance use and mental health issues. He helped create the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, served on its Advisory Committee and served as a board member of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) in Minnesota.

John W. Clark, Jr., a former chair of CoLAP, shared the following statement about Brink’s passing:

“The recovery community, especially CoLAP, has lost one of its own, a leader in our community and a leader in the world around us. I knew David “then” and “now.” It should be no secret that David opened a lot of doors for CoLAP…doors within the ABA and doors directly linked to our lives. As President of the ABA, David led our profession into a generation of immense change. As a member of CoLAP, he allowed our profession to witness recovery, demonstrating both eloquence and good humor. David was human, but David was blessed. He will be missed by many who never knew him.”

Learn more about David Brink’s life and achievements in:

Statement of ABA President Linda A. Klein Re: The passing of former ABA president David Brink (ABA News)

Minnesota Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Tribute

Former ABA president and WWII veteran David Brink dies at 97 (ABA Journal)

Past ABA president, Dorsey partner David Brink dies (Minnesota Lawyer, submitted by the Dorsey law firm)