CBA Record May-June 2021

Be the Change: Prioritizing Lawyer Well-Being By Jeffrey Bunn

I s self-care, self- ish ? What about lawyer well-being—isn’t that just more tree- hugging gobbledygook? The answer, to both questions is, most decidedly, no. The airlines figured it out a long time ago. At the beginning of each flight, pas- sengers are instructed that if air masks are required, they are to first affix their own masks before assisting others. Extending that instruction by analogy to lawyers, the passengers would be us and the others would be our clients. Taking better care of ourselves enables us to take better care of our clients. This is one of the reasons the CBA established a Wellness and Mindfulness Committee. Surprisingly, however, many in the legal profession remain skeptical and fundamentally non-compliant, if not downright resistant to the concept. That is a shame, but it is not irremediable.

Quasi-Governmental Organizational Action

To document and suggest a baseline for addressing the stresses and strains that are so prevalent in the legal profession, the Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL, (f/k/a, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being) drafted a report positing a six-point definition of well-being: Occu- pational, Intellectual, Social, Spiritual, Physical, and Emotional. Consistent with the growth of inter- est in well-being in general, the specific concerns considered to impact one’s sense of well-being have also been expanded to include matters related to financial well- being, diet, and nutrition, and even sleep. Each of these concerns have been the subject of advice in the past, but they have come to be reexamined as aspects of a more holistic approach, anchored in the notion that mental and emotional fitness are every bit as important as physical fitness.

Consistent with the underlying premise of the recently published book Thinking Again by Adam Grant, the Illinois Com- mission on Professionalism conceived a wonderful initiative called “Reimagine Law”: a series of interviews with a variety of people, exploring the different ways in which the practice of lawmight be changed for the better. One of those changes (imag- ined by the author) had to do with the mental and emotional well-being of the men and women who make up the legal profession. Significantly, however, the focus of most LAP organizations around the country is often limited to addressing physical, medically diagnosable mental illnesses and addictive behaviors that manifest as symptoms of those illnesses.

20 May/June 2021

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