Proposed Resolution 103, which adopts an ABA Model Impairment Policy for Legal Employers and urges legal employers to do the same, will go before the ABA House of Delegates at the Annual Meeting in August. The sponsors of proposed Resolution 103 are the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, an ABA Presidential Initiative led by President Hilarie Bass, and the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP).
The foundation of this policy is the recognition that well-being is essential to an attorney's duty of competence, and that impairment is antithetical to both the competence and quality service expected by the clients of the legal employer. To support this duty, legal employers must demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their personnel, to the prevention of impairments, and to assisting their employees in obtaining treatment when needed.
This policy deals only with the impairment of a legal employee, a sub-set of the overall well-being of a legal employee, and is not meant to encompass the panoply of all well-being initiatives that can be implemented in the legal employer setting. Further, this policy would reinforce and bring up to date an existing ABA policy passed by the House of Delegates in 1990, the Model Law Firm/Legal Department Personnel Impairment Policy and Guidelines.
Everyone is encouraged to talk to their state delegates and other ABA entities to garner support for Resolution 103. Contact Tracy Kepler at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide your support or feedback.
From the The National Law Journal, May 21, 2018
The ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 105 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, which supports the goal of reducing mental health and substance use disorders and improving the well-being of lawyers, judges and law students, and urges stakeholders within the legal profession to consider the recommendations set out in The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Resolution 105 was primarily sponsored by the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, an ABA Presidential Initiative. Resolution 105 was co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism and the National Organization of Bar Counsel.
The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a two-year Diversion Pilot Program for patent and trademark practitioners. The program offers practitioners who engaged in minor misconduct (with little, if any, harm to a client) as a result of physical, mental, or emotional health issues (including substance or alcohol abuse) or law practice management issues to enter into a diversion agreement and avoid formal discipline.
In February 2017, the ABA House of Delegates approved Resolution 106 amending the ABA Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education which includes a requirement for lawyers to receive at least one hour of mental health or substance use disorder programming every three years. It also calls for one hour of diversity and inclusion programming every three years. The Resolution was sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education, Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Law Practice Division.
CLE Credit for Lawyer Wellness in Wisconsin
IL Supreme Court Mandates Mental Health, Substance Use and Diversity CLE
See a Comparison of Jurisdiction Rules to ABA MCLE Model Rule by State for developments on this rule.
On August 3rd, 2015, the House of Delegates approved Resolution 102 which calls for character and fitness questions to address conduct rather than treatment or diagnoses when inquiring into a bar applicant's mental health history.
Access the ABA Commission on Disability Rights Bar Information for Applicants with Disabilities resources for state-by-state information on character and fitness questions related to mental health diagnoses.