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National Task Force on Lawyer Well Being

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

The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was conceptualized and initiated by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL).  It is a collection of entities within and outside the ABA that was created in August 2016.  Its participating entities currently include the following: 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.

Building upon the findings of 2016 ABA CoLAP/Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s study of mental health and substance use disorders among lawyers and of the 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, with this Report and its Recommendations, the Task Force is seeking to create a movement towards improving the health and wellbeing of the legal profession.  The 44 recommendations contained within the Report are directed to various legal stakeholders such as judges, regulators, law firms, law schools, bar associations, professional liability carriers and lawyer assistance programs, all in an effort to change the culture and discussion surrounding attorney wellbeing. 

The report’s recommendations focus on five central themes: (1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of them can play in reducing the level of toxicity in the legal profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with helpseeking 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 recommendations also provide proposed state action plans with simple checklists that will help each stakeholder inventory their current system and explore the recommendations relevant to their group.  We invite you to read this report, which sets forth the basis for why the legal profession is at a tipping point, and why the Task Force is presenting these recommendations and action plans for building a more positive future.