What is Lawyer Well-Being,
and Why Is It Important?
While wellness is often thought of as physical fitness and health, it also covers well being, which includes emotional health, satisfaction with life, and positive functioning.
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs' (COLAP) mission is to support the work of state and local Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAPs) that provide hands-on services and support to those in need. CoLAP and LAPs offer a variety of resources, guidance, and speakers--including on lawyer well being topics, such as clinical substance abuse, mental health issues, and wellness and stress management for lawyers.
Part of this renewed effort to help lawyers with well being issues comes from the reports and initiatives created by the ABA's Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. Starting with the 2016 report of Lawyers' rate of substance abuse and depression, the 2017 report, "The Path to Well Being," and the Wellness ToolKit issued in 2018, lawyers throughout the country are learning about stress management, work/life balance, and the educational and helping resources available through their state Lawyers Assistance Programs. Through these prevention efforts, including Wellness Pledges taken by law firms, the goal is to reduce substance use and de-stigmatize seeking help and education for well being issues.
Since 1994, New Jersey attorneys have learned how to manage stress and proactively care for their mental wellness, most recently at "Lawyer Well Being and Its Effect on Professionalism and Ethics," a popular CLE program available through NJICLE. In addition, NJLAP staff have presented at individual law firms, specialty bar associations, statewide lawyer conventions. In the future, NJLAP will continue reaching out to specific groups, such as Law Students, Women Attorneys, Senior Lawyers, and more.