On the heels of a global pandemic, Well-Being Week in Law is more important than ever
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Well-Being Week in Law kicks off today, highlighting the importance of health and happiness across the legal profession.
Created to support the well-being of lawyers and legal professionals, Well-Being Week in Law is an initiative of the Institute for Well-Being in Law. Each day of the week focuses on a distinct well-being theme.
Since the August 2017 release of the landmark report The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the topic of well-being has gained momentum as individuals and legal organizations increasingly recognize the importance of lawyer well-being and its impact on lawyer functioning.
The Path to Lawyer Well-Being was informed by a 2016 study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, which showed that “21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with some level of depression and 19 percent demonstrate symptoms of anxiety.”
With the Hazelden Betty Ford study and The Path to Lawyer Well-Being demonstrating the clear need for improved well-being in the legal profession, the judiciary, lawyers’ assistance programs, law schools, legal employers and risk management companies have increased efforts to support lawyer and legal professional well-being.
Over the last five years, enormous gains have been made in building the well-being of legal professionals and destigmatizing mental health, substance abuse and wellness barriers. Legal employers are creating and expanding well-being programs and benefits, and well-being programs and benefits are now commonplace at law schools and law firms. Today, 205 legal employers are signatories to the ABA’s Well-Being Pledge.
The first Well-Being Week in Law, held in 2020, was originally intended to provide ideas for in-person individual and group activities, but by the time Well-Being Week arrived in May 2020, most law firms and legal organizations were working remotely due to the pandemic. When lawyers and legal professionals were in greater need than ever for well-being support, legal employers used Well-Being Week resources to support their teams through the early and most stressful stages of the pandemic.
This year, many of the featured resources remain targeted for remote work environments—this time with a deeper understanding of the impact of the trying events of the past year, including the pandemic and the social and racial strife our communities faced. Legal employers are realizing that well-being isn’t simply an individual responsibility; organizations play an important role and have a vested interest in the well-being of their team members.
The Well-Being Week website provides resources, activities, webinar and other ideas to help individuals, law firms, law schools and other legal employers create opportunities to support the health and wellness of attorneys, staff and law students. The daily themes cover various dimensions of well-being as defined in the “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being” report: physical (Monday), spiritual (Tuesday), career and intellectual (Wednesday), social (Thursday) and emotional (Friday).
The ABA believes in the critical importance of well-being for its members and everyone in the legal profession. With so many resources available for Well-Being Week, it is the perfect time for legal employers to support the ongoing well-being and health of their lawyers and staff.
For more on Well-Being Week in Law and to access the significant resources available, visit the Institute for Well Being in Law’s website.
Kendra Brodin is the chief attorney development officer for Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Minneapolis and a member of the well-being committee of the ABA Law Practice Division.