It’s not too late to make changes. Yes, January 1 has come and gone, but changes need to be made all year. It doesn’t matter if you make resolutions at the end of January or in August. The key is to make changes when things aren’t working.
Changes Are Happening
Attorney well-being hasn’t been working for a while. We’ve discussed the high rate of substance abuse and mental health issues among attorneys in prior blogs. You can’t sweep this reality under the carpet. Luckily for the legal community, there are people working hard to implement the recommended changes from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s report The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.
In particular, the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession is not paying lip service to the report’s recommendations. This working group focuses on assisting legal employers achieve and sustain a healthy work environment. One of its main initiatives is the Well-Being Pledge.
Take the Well-Being Pledge
The pledge is geared toward law firms, corporate entities, government agencies, and legal aid organizations looking to promote employee well-being. By signing the pledge, these entities agree to the following:
- Provide quality education on well-being, mental health, and substance use disorders;
- Reduce the expectation that alcohol will be served at all law firm events;
- Partner with outside groups that are committed to reducing substance use disorders and mental health issues in the legal profession;
- Provide access to confidential addiction and mental health experts and resources;
- Develop policies and protocols to support treatment of substance use and mental health issues;
- Support programs and activities that improve employees’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being; and
- Use the pledge as a recruitment tool to retain the best lawyers and staff.
According to Tracy L. Kepler, Director of the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility, since September 2018, over 50 law firms, two legal employers (3M and VMware) and one law school (Santa Clara University Law School) have signed the pledge to make changes in their work environments.
The pledge is more than a signature. It has accountability. Each year, the signatories must report on what they did to achieve the seven goals.
How do legal employers make these changes? Good news, the working group has an answer. A Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers (99 pages) exists to provide guidance. A condensed version of the toolkit, 80 Tips for Lawyer Thriving, is also available.
Your Turn to Make Changes
Now, back to you. How can you improve your well-being as well as the well-being of your workplace? Has your legal employer signed the Well-Being Pledge? If not, see what you can do to change that. The pledge’s commitments are doable. Support and resources are available to help you achieve success. A healthier legal profession is possible.
Next, think about changes you can make in your life. Resolve to give those a try even though it’s no longer January 1. Countless benefits await you.
What well-being changes has your employer made? What changes do you plan to make? Share in the comments below.