Chair's Column: Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Health/Well-being

By Hal Katz, Husch Blackwell LLP, Austin, TX

At work, and in everyday life, we function best when we are healthy. While our health is our most valuable asset, it has been challenging during the pandemic to find the time and outlet necessary for nurturing and growing that asset.

Our struggles are not just in our imagination. The data reveals how lawyers have been impacted during the pandemic. Findings from the national survey, “Practicing Law in the Pandemic and Moving Forward,” include:

  • Many lawyers are considering leaving the legal profession.
  • More than a third of respondents (35%) are thinking significantly more often about working part time. Women with children age 5 or younger (53%) and women with children age 6-13 (41%), were even more likely to be thinking about part-time work.
  • Lawyers are stressed about workplace resources, recognition, and job security. At the top of the list were worries about a salary reduction (55%), getting furloughed or laid off (40%) and advancement (28%).
  • Lawyers want their employers to provide programs and policies around wellness, better resources for working parents, and comprehensive plans for family leave and sick leave. 
  • Lawyers are seeking a culture where leaders are engaged, empathic, and show that they value the effort and contributions made throughout the organization.

This is why promoting health and well-being has been one of my priorities as Chair of the ABA Health Law Section. During this time, we all could use more opportunities to invest in our health. And next week, there will be many!

The ABA and the ABA Health Law Section are excited to support Well-Being Week in Law (WWIL), May 3-7, 2021, which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Month. Each of the 5 days during Well-Being Week will focus on one dimension of overall well-being. Whether you’re into walking, running, yoga, or spirituality, there’s something for everyone. For more details, read the information below, and click on the hyperlinks.

The ABA Health Law Section, with the help of its Health & Well-Being Committee, has also developed its own content to promote health and well-being, including live and recorded virtual yoga and exercise at your desk. It’s all free, and easy to access.

While there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, many of us will continue to struggle to find the time, and outlet, for investing in health and well-being. We invite you to participate, and to invest in your health and well-being, to make life better now, and in the future!

Monday, 5/3 - Stay Strong, Physical Well-Being
Striving for regular activity, good diet and nutrition, enough sleep, and recovery. Limit addictive substances and seek help for physical health when needed.

Tuesday, 5/4 - Align - Spiritual Well-Being
Cultivating a sense of meaning and purpose in work and life. Aligning our work and lives with our values, goals, and interests.

Wednesday, 5/5 - Engage & Grow - Career & Intellectual Well-Being
Seeking personal satisfaction, continuous learning and growth in our professional and personal lives, and financial stability. Engaging in creative or intellectually challenging activities that foster ongoing development and monitoring cognitive wellness.

Thursday, 5/6 - Connect - Social Well-Being
Building connection, belonging, and a reliable support network. It is contributing to our groups and communities. Below are some things you can do today to start building positive connections.

Friday, 5/7 - Feel Well - Emotional Well-Being
Valuing emotions. Developing an ability to identify and manage emotions for health, to achieve goals, and to inform decisions. Seeking help for mental health when needed.

If you decide to participate, we’d love to see you on social media. Please post about your experience, use the hashtag #WellBeingWeekInLaw, and follow along as the week unfolds! To learn more about WWIL, please visit http://www.lawyerwellbeing.net.

Finance Officer Elect Denise Glass and Section Chair Hal Katz

Finance Officer Elect Denise Glass and Section Chair Hal Katz

Making time for health and well-being at a Health Law Section leadership meeting in September 2007