CBA Record September 2018
This group was led by E. Lynn Grayson (Chair), Jonathan Beitner, Robin Belleau, Jesse Bowman, Shannon Callahan, Mary Kathryn Curry, Natasha Curry, Robert Glaves, Skip Harsch, Tom Keefe, Tracy Kepler, Kathryn Liss, Jun Qiu, Catherine Sanders Reach, Jayne Reardon, Emily Roschek, David Scriven-Young, Lara Wagner and Mark Wojcik. The group agreed to evaluate the following key areas of concern as related to lawyer wellness, work/life balance considerations and supporting the success of lawyers pro- fessionally and personally: 1) stress in the practice; 2) social media impacts; and, 3) bar associations and their relevance, particularly as to young lawyers.We organized subcom- mittees to assess and investigate each of the areas of concern, to report on the research, studies and findings, and to make recommendations to the CBA.
–Stress Of The Practice– By Jonathan Beitner and Lara Wagner T he subcommittee considered stress in the practice with a focus on how to help lawyers cope with a variety of factors impacting lawyer well-being. We examined studies address- ing lawyer stress, trends noting an increase in stress within the legal profession, changing work/client demands that make law practice more challenging, and how the practice of law compares to other professions in terms of stress-related impacts and conse- quences. The 2016 American Bar Association/Hazelden Betty Ford Study was the first empirical look at mental health and substance use issues in the legal profession since 1990. The study surveyed 12,825 attorneys across all segments of the profession. The study revealed substantial and widespread levels of problem drinking and symptoms of other health problems among lawyers. The study identified troubling statistics related to stress, anxiety, depression and substance use within the legal profession. This groundbreaking work sounded a wakeup call that there were significant challenges to attorney well-being in the U.S. The subcommittee also found that stress-related concerns exist among law students. While law students arrive with wellness rates similar to the general population, the law school experience appears to significantly impact the well- being of future lawyers. A recent study found the following: 43% of law students reported binge drinking in the prior two weeks; 17% screened positive for symptoms of depression; 37% screened positively for symptoms of anxiety with 14% exhibiting symptoms of severe anxiety; and, 62% thought seeking help to address con- cerns related to their mental health of substance use would hurt their employment prospects and/or academic standings. It is clear there is a high prevalence of mental health and substance abuse concerns in the profession. In addition, stigma remains a significant barrier to people seeking treatment. The growing pressures of legal practice including 24/7 client demands and secondary trauma among lawyers present ongoing concerns. The subcommittee believes the CBA can have a positive impact on
improving lawyer well-being as well as raising awareness of lawyer stress and the availability of valuable resources for help and support both to individual lawyers and legal employers. Recommendations included the following considerations: For the CBA: • Establish a well-being task force or wellness committee to expand/supplement the Mindfulness Committee, use research ideas generated by the national task force, host wellness pro- grams and initiatives, disseminate articles and blog posts on best practices, and identify approved vendors and speakers on key wellness topics • Work with other groups in Chicago that are addressing issues related to these topics to create synergies in programming and marketing including work with the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) to train high-visibility CBA members to put on programs created or approved by LAP to satisfy the new CLE requirement, partner with the Kennedy Forum of Illinois on programs/policies to reduce the stigma associated with mental health/addiction issues, consider offering to co-host a conference in Chicago with the ABA’s Well-Being Committee and team up with other associations that service other white collar professions such as self-care issues in the medical profession. • Host roundtable discussions or forums with various segments of the profession to discuss how broader issues impact each segment more specifically and to help generate potential solu- tions including representatives from Chicago’s law schools, solo practitioners/small firms and big law associates For individual lawyers and legal employers: • Encourage individual lawyers as well as legal employers to educate themselves about wellness considerations and for larger employ- ers, consider creation of wellness committees • Consider meditation, mindfulness, other mind-body practices • Promote physical health (sleep, exercise, eating well) • Adopt practices that reinforce resiliency
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