A coalition of groups, including the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, have released 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.
The report, by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, includes several dozen recommendations and represents the most ambitious roadmap yet related to the well-being of lawyers. It is intended to spark a broader conversation in the legal profession regarding reasons behind substance use disorders as well as the effects of impairment to guide policy changes and to lead to a cultural shift within the profession.
Last week, the Conference of Chief Justices, which participated in the development of the report, gave the recommendations its endorsement. Other groups involved in the drafting of the task force report were the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
This report’s recommendations focus on five central themes:
- Identifying stakeholders and the role each can play in reducing the level of toxicity in the legal profession.
- Eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors.
- Emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence.
- Educating lawyers, judges and law students on lawyer well-being issues.
- Taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.