The ABA observes Mental Health Awareness Month each October, as well as World Mental Health Day and Law School Mental Health Day on October 10. Law students know firsthand the struggles of those affected by mental health issues, and the ABA Law Student Division and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs are committed to increasing awareness, national participation, and funding for mental health and well-being in all aspects of the profession.
To that end, the ABA Law Student Division has announced its Mental Health Awareness T-Shirt Design contest. Students at ABA-accredited law schools can submit their design for an official ABA mental health t-shirt by November 30, 2019. The winning design will be selected and printed on to t-shirts, and proceeds from the sales of those shirts will benefit the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP)!
You can find more information about the contest, including contest rules, here.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has adopted a report authored by the Arkansas Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, taking a phenomenal step in improving the well-being of attorneys and judges throughout the state of Arkansas! Congratulations to Arkansas Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, the entire Arkansas Task Force on Attorney Well-Being, and all the attorneys, judges, and law students in the state who stand to benefit from the recommendations in the report.
The report was submitted to the Arkansas Supreme Court and contains pages of recommendations for judges, regulators, legal employers, law schools, bar associations, and Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAPs) on how to promote well-being in all aspects of the profession. You can access the full report here.
A recently published article in The Indiana Lawyer, titled “JLAP: Bar associations tackle lawyer wellness issues,” touches on some of the many ways that Indiana’s local bar associations are addressing wellness and mental health issues within the profession. Some of the exciting initiatives include integrated wellness messaging in all bar association activities in St. Joseph County, the “Practice Health, Not Law” Day offered in Lake County, and the growth of the Helping Enrich Attorneys Lives (HEAL) Committee within IndyBar.
As the article indicates, growing evidence supports the fact that lawyers are susceptible to substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, and grief. These organizations, in conjunction with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) in Indiana, are working hard to encourage mental health support and promote wellness in all aspects of an attorney’s life.
Read the full article here.
Many law schools are beginning to offer mental health and wellness initiatives for students. Check out this article to learn about the steps law schools can take to address students’ mental health. Is your school doing something unique to address this problem? Is your school not doing enough? Share your experiences in the comments section and be sure to include what you think law schools can do to improve mental health.
Episode 6 features a conversation on how taking practice tests in preparation for the bar exam is an essential tool for bar takers to prepare to take and pass the bar exam. Guests include Sara Berman, Director of Academic & Bar Success Programs for the nonprofit Access Lex Institute’s Center for Legal Education Excellence and Ben Madison, Professor, Director of Bar Pass Initiatives and Co-Director of the Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform at Regent University Law School. Judith Rush, member of CoLAP’s Law Student Assistance Committee and Director of the Mentor Externship Program at the University of St. Thomas School of Law moderates the discussion.
Both guests bring significant expertise on the topic. Professor Berman is a nationally recognized bar exam expert and author of Pass the Bar Exam: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic and Professional Goals and Bar Exam MPT Preparation & Experiential Learning for Law Students: Interactive Performance Test Training, both published by the ABA. Professor Madison is a fellow of the Institute for the Advancement of American Legal Education’s Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers and is nationally known for his scholarship on, and efforts in, bringing pedagogical reforms to legal education. Regent has recorded its highest ever bar pass rates since Professor Madison under undertook leadership of its “Bar Initiatives” program.
Part 1 of Episode 6 focuses on how making practice tests a regular component of bar exam preparation from the beginning can increase confidence of bar takers and reduce the stress and anxiety of preparing for and taking the bar exam.
Part 2 of Episode 6 provides additional anxiety reducing tips for bar takers.
We are excited to announce the CoLAP podcasts, The Path to Law Student Well-Being and Lawyers’ Voices of Recovery, are now available on major podcast libraries: iTunes, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Castbox! These shows are pioneers in the attorney well-being space and are now positioned to leverage enhanced technology platforms to serve their purpose of connecting with a broad swath of lawyers.
The Path to Law Student Well-Being features law students and legal educators discussing relevant issues concerning character and fitness, mental health, and substance use disorders. Listen here!
Lawyers’ Voices of Recovery features lawyers sharing their struggles with addiction and other mental health challenges. Listen here!
Join host Jonathan Beitner, attorney, certified professional coach, attorney well-being advocate and member of the Lawyers Assistance Program, Law Student Committee, as he talks with Chris Ritter, the director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, and Chase Anderson, a case manager at Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. They will discuss how to deal with stress while studying for the bar exam. No matter how much you prepare, the stress can be overwhelming. With the techniques discussed on this episode, you will be able to sit for the bar cool and confident.
Listen here to learn the techniques to help reduce stress and walk into the bar exam cool and confident.
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has released a 50-State Survey of Bar Exam Character and Fitness Questions, compiling the primary character and fitness questions in bar applications across the country that request information about an applicant’s current or past record of mental illness and/or substance use, involvement with the criminal justice system, school discipline (e.g., suspensions or expulsion), and financial problems (e.g., bankruptcy). The resource was developed in an effort to better prepare law school graduates to complete these applications.
In related news, in February 2019 the Conference of Chief Justices adopted Resolution 5, In Regard to the Determination of Fitness to Practice Law, which urges state bar admissions authorities to eliminate character and fitness questions that ask about mental health history, diagnoses, or treatment, and instead focus on any conduct or behavior that impairs an applicant’s current ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner.
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.