January 01, 2018

Opening Statement: Let’s Help Lawyers Get on the Path to Well-Being

Koji F. Fukumura

 Download a printable PDF of this article.

Within the span of a few days in June 2017, two prominent lawyers took their own lives; they were not the first to have done so by that time last year. This caused me, in thinking about priorities for my year as chair of the Litigation Section, to focus on mental health and wellness in the profession. A colleague suggested that I look at the CoLAP website for ideas. I had no idea what CoLAP (the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs) meant or what it did. Upon visiting the CoLAP website, however, I found a wealth of information on subjects ranging from suicide prevention and mental health to substance abuse and wellness initiatives. CoLAP, similar to its lawyer assistance counterparts in each of the states and many of the territories, has a mission to

assure that every judge, lawyer and law student has access to support and assistance when confronting alcoholism, substance use disorders or mental health issues so that lawyers are able to recover, families are preserved and clients and other members of the public are protected.

I decided to form a Mental Health and Wellness Task Force aimed at delivering some of the important information curated by CoLAP and similar organizations to our Section members. Thus, in every publication during my year, at every CLE conference, and in our monthly membership newsletters, we are including articles or resources, or putting on programs focused on mental health and wellness.

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