Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) Highlights

2021

March

In response to the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Notice and Comment, the Commission and its Law School Committee developed comments to submit to the Council of the Section regarding proposed revisions to Standard 303 and Standard 508.  The Commission has been advocating revisions to the Standards to include well-being for several years. Their last effort was a June 2020 letter to the Council outlining the mental health challenges law students are facing and urging the Council to consider for its 2020-2021 Agenda revisions to the Standards to include well-being as a fundamental learning outcome and ensure law student services include well-being resources. The Council recognized the concerns outlined by the Commission and revised Standard 508 to add law student well-being resources to the list of support services listed in Standard 508.  The revisions to Standard 508 also include new Interpretations to define “reasonable access” to these services.

The ABA Well-Being Pledge continues to generate strong interest among legal employers. To date, over 200 legal employers have committee to the Pledge. Each year, Pledge Signatories are asked to recommitment their support for the Pledge and its seven-step framework.  The Commission distributed the 2021 Recommitment Form in a new electronic format, asking Pledge Signatories to submit their recommitment by April 16, 2021. 

The Commission and its Well-Being Committee is planning to host the 3rd Annual Well-Being Pledge Workshop on April 22, 2021. This virtual event for Pledge Signatories offers an opportunity to compare notes, share experiences and learn about well-being initiatives that support the Pledge framework. The 2021 Workshop program will include discussions about the intersection between well-being and diversity, inclusion, and equity issues, initiatives to de-emphasize the expectation of alcohol, developing written, proactive policies to promote well-being and developments in the well-being movements.

The Commission partnered with the Institute for Well-Being in Law, to sponsor the 2nd annual Well-Being Week in Law, May 3-7, 2021. Well-Being Week in Law, created to take place the first week in May to align with Mental Health Awareness Month, is designed to raise awareness about mental health and encourage action across the legal profession to improve the well-being of all legal professionals and their support teams.  Visit the Well-Being Week in Law website to learn more about programs, resources and activities.

Commission Chair Tish Vincent and CoLAP Counsel Theresa Gronkiewicz participated in a Roundtable on March 23, 2021, for members of the legal community hosted by PREVENTS, a Federal inter-agency Task Force. PREVENTS aims to change the culture around mental health and implement an all-nation effort to prevent suicide, focusing on Veterans and other high-risk communities.   Leadership from various organizations participated in the Roundtable to share their knowledge, experiences, best practices, and support for PREVENTS’ mission.

February

The Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) was a co-sponsor of Resolution 300A, presented by the ABA Coordinating Group on Practice Forward at the 2021 Midyear Meeting, which encourages all stakeholders in the legal profession to create and distribute policies and resources aimed at advancing well-being in the legal profession, and to promote the use of these policies and resources.  CoLAP Chair Tish Vincent, liaison to the Practice Forward Group, gave remarks in support of Resolution 300A to the members of the House. Resolution 300A was adopted by unanimous vote.  

The Commission conducted a business meeting in conjunction with the ABA 2021 Midyear Meeting. A large part of the meeting was dedicated to strategic planning.  

The Commission’s well-being initiatives continue to thrive and grow. To date, close to 200 legal employers, including law firms, corporate entities, government agencies, law schools, and bar associations have committed to the Pledge. The Commission is planning the 3rd annual Pledge Workshop which will be a virtual event, rescheduled to take place on April 22, 2021. This half-day event will include educational programming, discussions, and networking opportunities for pledge signatories to share ideas and resources to assist them to implement the Pledge seven-step framework. The ABA Well-Being Campaign, and Pledge has become one of the ABA’s strongest member programs, as evidenced by its reach and impact.  

January

The Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs is planning its 2021 National Conference on Lawyer Assistance Programs scheduled to be held September 21-23, 2021. The theme of the 2021 Conference is Writing the LAP Story: Reset, Recover, Renew. The Commission Conference Planning Committee is soliciting program proposals featuring proficient speakers and cutting-edge topics related to mental health, substance use disorders and well-being of the legal profession.  The deadline for submitting a program proposal is February 15, 2021. For the Instructions and Guidelines to submit a proposal, visit website.

The Commission’s well-being initiatives continue to thrive and grow. The Commission has begun planning the 3rd annual Pledge Virtual Workshop for Pledge Signatories scheduled to take place on March 25, 2021. This half-day event will include educational programming, discussions, and networking opportunities for pledge signatories to share ideas and resources to assist them in implementing the Pledge’s seven-step framework. Additionally, the Commission is redesigning the annual 2021 Pledge Recommitment Forms and plans to send those out to Pledge Signatories next month. The Well-Being Campaign, including the Pledge has become one of the ABA’s strongest member programs, as evidenced by its reach and impact. To date, close to 200 legal employers - law firms, corporate entities, government agencies, law schools, and bar associations- have committed to the Pledge.

The Commission continues to maintain a curated list of mental health resources to assist members of the legal profession in understanding and prioritizing their mental health, well-being, and recovery as they cope with the many challenges they are facing in their professional and personal lives. To access the Commission’s Mental Resources visit website.