With a significant number of members of the legal profession facing mental health and alcohol use disorders as well as physical health issues, the American Bar Association put the focus on how attorneys can take better care of themselves during the first Lawyer Well-Being Week, May 4-8.
The initiative, which aligns with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, was a joint effort of the ABA Law Practice Division, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. The aim was to raise awareness and encourage action across the legal profession to improve well-being for lawyers and their support teams.
The ABA offered five webinars, a different one each day, featuring speakers who addressed the challenges that lawyers face and offered tips, tools and advice on how they can live their best lives physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“Our modern, always-on world is stressful for everyone, but for attorneys, who are balancing the constant demands of home, family and career, it is the ultimate juggling act,” said Tal Fagin, an attorney, certified life coach and co-presenter for one of the webinars, “The Softer Side of Success.” “Add to that the specific pressures of law firm life — from demanding clients to onerous hours to internal firm politics — and the tension only rises.”
A 2016 study by the ABA and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that lawyers struggle with a host of issues that can adversely affect their well-being:
- 36% qualify as problem drinkers
- 28% report mild or higher depression symptoms
- 23% report mild or higher stress symptoms
- 19% report mild or higher anxiety symptoms
The webinars aligned with a different theme each day:
- Stay Strong – “Healing with Breath, Mindset & Diet: The Science of Stress & Well-Being”
- Align – “The Softer Side of Success”
- Engage & Grow – “The Best Lawyer You Can Be: Practices for Well-Being & Excellence”
- Connect – “Put Away Your Legal Pad!: How to Avoid Arguing Ourselves Out of Good Relationships”
- Feel Well – “The Happy Lawyer: How Your Emotional Health & Legal Success are Connected”
The 60-minute webinars are available on-demand for free to ABA members.
- ABA: 2016 Study on Lawyer Impairment
- GPSolo Magazine: Mindfulness, mental health and wellness
- ABA Journal: Let’s mend our profession by exploring the mental and the physical