The Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession was created to examine and make recommendations regarding the current state of attorney mental health and substance use issues with an emphasis on helping legal employers support healthy work environments. The Working Group was formed in September 2017 at the request of Immediate Past-President Hilarie Bass and continues to operate under President Bob Carlson’s leadership.
The Working Group has launched a Campaign to improve the substance use and mental health landscape of the legal profession. For a more detailed description of the Campaign as well as a quote from President Bob Carlson in support of the initiative, see the official ABA Press Release.
The primary vehicle for the Campaign is a Pledge calling upon legal employers (including law firms, corporate entities, government agencies and legal aid organizations) to first: (a) recognize that substance use and mental health problems represent a significant challenge for the legal profession and acknowledge that more can and should be done to improve the health and well-being of lawyers; and, (b) pledge to support the Campaign and work to adopt and prioritize its seven-point framework for building a better future.
During the second stage of the Campaign, a Commitment Form will be circulated – a year after the initial sigining and annually thereafter – asking participants to describe any steps taken toward the objectives set out in the framework during the previous year.
The Working Group encourages all legal employers to join the Campaign and take the Pledge by January 1, 2019 to become part of the inaugural class of signatories.
Contact Tracy Kepler at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to pledge your support.
Participating Law Firms
Several law firms have already stepped forward to take the Pledge. The Working Group would like to thank them for their early support.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP*
Bass, Berry & Sims PLC
Blank Rome LLP
Corette Black Carlson & Mickelson P.C.*
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Drost Kivlahan McMahon & O’Connor, LLP
Duane Morris LLP*
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
Goodwin Procter LLP
Heiting & Irwin, APLC
Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP*
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP*
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP*
Nexsen Pruet, LLC
Nixon Peabody LLP*
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash,
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Perkins Coie LLP*
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Reed Smith, LLP*
Schiff Hardin LLP*
Seyfarth Shaw LLP*
Sidley Austin LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Snell & Wilmer LLP*
Thompson & Knight LLP
Wiley Rein LLP*
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
*Indicates initial signer.
Click here to download a PDf of the infographic.
Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers
The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s 2017 report shined a spotlight on evidence that too many lawyers face mental health and substance use disorders or otherwise aren’t thriving. Wanting to support the effort to catalyze positive change, American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass formed a Presidential Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession in September 2017. Its focus is on helping legal employers support healthy work environments, which are critical for lawyer wellness. Research shows that if workplace cultures support well-being, lawyers will be better able to make good choices that allow them to thrive and be their best for clients, colleagues, and work organizations.
Many legal employers are ready to become positive change agents but have been unsure where to start. The new Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers is designed to help. It offers tools and practical guidance for legal employers who want to join the lawyer well-being movement by launching organizational initiatives. The Toolkit, created by Presidential Working Group member Anne Brafford (a lawyer and organizational science researcher) can be viewed as a design prototype. It is meant to be a living document that will continue to develop and improve—an effort in which you are encouraged to participate. You can do so by trying out the Toolkit and offering feedback on what’s helpful, what can be improved, and what other resources are available. The Toolkit is offered as another step on the path to lawyer well-being—to help lawyers be their best as they carry out their critical roles contributing to the vitality of our government, business sector, community safety, and individual lives.
Also available is the Well-Being Toolkit Nutshell: 80 Tips For Lawyer Thriving, summarizing 80 of the Toolkit’s key items to help get you started on a lawyer well-being initiative.
Note for Use: The Toolkit is filled with electronic hyperlinks to websites and online resources that appear in blue underlined type. As a result, it is intended primarily for online viewing. If you decide to print the document in hard copy, select “fit to page” in your print dialogue box to ensure proper printing.
Resolution 105 – primarily sponsored by the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession – was adopted by the ABA House of Delegates at the Midyear Meeting in Vancouver. Resolution 105 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.
National Workshop on the Advancement of Attorney Well-Being in the Law Firm Setting with Special Guest, ABA President Hilarie Bass
Spring 2018 National Legal Malpractice Conference | April 25, 2018
The ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession is focusing on the importance of well-being in the legal profession, with an emphasis on helping legal employers support healthy work environments.
To achieve this goal, one of the first steps is to formulate a national model policy on lawyer well-being for use in law firms. This interactive workshop was intended to create practical and workable law firm policies to reinforce lawyer well-being as a core component of the ethical obligations of competence and diligence as well as professionalism. Using a collaborative process, firm leaders, risk management providers, and subject matter experts, including members of lawyer assistance programs, met to generate ideas, innovations, and tools to develop this national model. Participants also learned ways to foster healthy lifestyles within firms as well as how to address addiction and mental health issues to help lawyers as part of a firm’s risk management strategy.
Presented by the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, Standing Committee on Lawyers Professional Liability, Center for Professional Responsibility and the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.
Share Your Thoughts
What other projects should the Working Group be pursuing? Share your thoughts and ideas by emailing Tracy Kepler.
- ABA launches pledge campaign to improve mental health and well-being of lawyers (ABA News, September 10, 2018)
- ABA’s Focus on Lawyers’ Well-Being Is ‘Right Thing to Do’ (Bloomberg BNA, May 7, 2018)
- ABA 'Furiously Working' to Craft Proposal on Lawyers' Mental Health (The National Law Journal, May 21, 2018)
- ABA works to address attorney substance use and mental health disorders (ABA Journal, December 2017)
- For the New Year, ABA Aims to Help Firms with Well-Being Policies (Daily Business Review, December 21, 2017)