Family law attorneys spend their days assisting clients through one of (if not the most) extraordinarily emotional and difficult periods in their lives. As lawyers, the feelings and emotions of the case inevitably sit on our shoulders as we serve as counselors, all the while attempting to navigate the legal arena through negotiation and, often times, contentious litigation. This is unfortunately exasperated in family law matters as compared to other fields of law. The mental and physical toll this takes upon us as practitioners can be debilitating. Issues of mental health and substance abuse in our profession are increasing at a dramatic pace, while unfortunately often times going “under the radar” due to fears of stigma and feelings of helplessness. These issues are prime for ABA FLS assistance.
It is crucial for family law attorneys to maintain life balance and their mental and physical well-being – for ourselves, our families, and our clients. If we hit roadblocks or face struggles along the way, there must be an avenue to obtain help. Know that you are not alone. The ABA Family Law Section’s Health and Wellness Committee is dedicated to bringing awareness to mental and physical issues that affect the quality of life of family law lawyers in particular.
Goals specific to this Committee:
- Educate lawyers of all experience levels how to identify and assist with mental health issues in our profession;
- Educate those lawyers about the importance of work-life balance and the benefit it brings to the practice;
- Educate lawyers to help rid us of the “stigma” associated with mental health issues; and
- Develop and provide health and wellness programs designed to assist family law attorneys with both physical and mental health and wellness issues and achieve a better work-life balance.
The Health and Wellness committee is a Standing Committee. Standing committees are established and authorized by Council or by the Chair with the advice and consent of Council and are responsible to Council.
The Health and Wellness Committee Chair is appointed by the Chair Elect, upon consultation with the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary of the section, to serve during the upcoming year. The appointment is to be made by June 1st. The Chair’s term begins at the conclusion of the annual meeting and continues for one year.
The committee chair has the following responsibilities which can be accomplished by working with a Vice-Chair or Co-Chair:
- Facilitate the submission of CLE proposals from committee members and to produce CLE programs when a topic relevant to the committee is selected by the CLE Committee for inclusion in an upcoming CLE conference, and when directed to do so by the CLE Committee Chair or Co-Chairs. This may include working with the CLE Committee to suggest speakers and finalize titles, descriptions, and educational materials.
- Coordinating committee members to post materials on the Committee’s webpage which serves as a home for all substantive area knowledge sharing.
- Writing and submitting a column for the Committee Corner section of the E-Newsletter when requested.
- Using the committee list serve to communicate with the committee regarding upcoming meetings, CLE proposals, special projects and other topics relevant to the committee.
- When a committee project requires financing, the committee chair is responsible for making a formal budget request to the Finance Officer in a timely manner.
- Communicating with the committee’s council liaison to facilitate communication with section leadership.
- The Chair of the Committee is required to submit a status report to the Section’s Council to be included in the Fall, Spring, and Annual Meeting Agenda books.
- Be prepared to give an oral report at council upon request.