The Policy Committee of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession developed a Well-Being Template for Legal Employers to provide suggested guidelines to legal employers for responding to an employee who is experiencing impairment due to a substance use disorder, mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. The template is intended to serve as a tool that can be modified as needed to suit the individual employer. Each employer should tailor this document to meet the specific needs of its workplace, taking into consideration size, resources and practice setting, as well as consult with labor and employment counsel.
The National Task Force on Well-Being is a collection of entities within and outside the ABA, including the Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP), National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC) and Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL), with a mission to “create a movement to improve the health and well-being of the legal profession.” The group's report, “The Path To Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change,” published August 2017, provides recommendations to multiple legal stakeholders, including legal employers, regulators, the judiciary, law schools, professional liability carriers and bar associations, on what they can each do to institute a culture change so that well-being becomes a priority.
In collaboration with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs conducted national research on lawyer impairment. This is a landmark study as never before has national data been gathered addressing both substance use and behavioral health concerns simultaneously. The survey examines alcohol use, substance abuse, mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors of lawyers. The results are compelling. The implications for the legal community are multifaceted and far reaching.
In the spring of 2014, fifteen law schools around the country participated in the Survey of Law Student Well-Being (SLSWB), designed to examine alcohol, drug and mental health issues, as well as help-seeking behaviors, among law students.
The study was administered with a grant from the ABA Enterprise Fund, sponsored by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, Law Student Division, Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, Young Lawyers Division and Commission on Disability Rights, as well as with support from the Dave Nee Foundation.
COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY OF LAWYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Every two years the Commission conducts the Comprehensive Survey of Lawyer Assistance Programs. The subsequent reports include information on annual budgets, staffing, client characteristics, types of impairments served and more. Click on the years below to access the reports.
For a comprehensive collection of literature on lawyers and alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression and other emotional health issues, visit CoLAP's research data bank.