National Lawyer Well-Being Week

National Lawyer Well-Being Week

Lawyers are often the change-makers and driving force behind cultural and political reform. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy sense of well-being due to the pressures of their jobs. Legal professionals are particularly affected by mental health issues.

National Lawyer Well-Being Week is therefore an opportunity for everyone – including the general public – to support lawyers. This week’s purpose is to mobilize resources to improve attorney mental health, so they can continue their vital role within the community.

Lawyers are most well-known for their high professional standing and large incomes. Behind the glamour and success of the profession, there are often regular people who struggle to make ends meet. The work hours of legal professionals can be some of the longest of any profession. Their work often involves challenging clients and difficult court cases. Many legal professionals also have many “extra-curricular” activities that they can support their families, colleagues, or communities. Their mental and physical resources are stretched to the limit.

Some lawyers are able to handle the pressure and thrive. Others resort to drugs and alcohol. Many end up suffering from severe mental disorders, which can ruin their quality of living and hinder their ability to reach their full potential.

National Lawyer Well-Being Week aims to address this need and support legal professionals in order to maximize their community benefits. Supporting your lawyers will increase their ability to make a difference in society.

National Lawyer Well-Being Week coincides with Mental Health Awareness Month in order to raise public awareness about the difficulties lawyers face. After the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being started publicizing the widespread mental health problems in the legal sector. An industry group realized they had a serious problem. They set out to change the state of the legal profession’s well-being.

Representative bodies discovered that attorneys with mental health issues were at unacceptable levels. The Task Force’s data showed that between 21 and 36 percent of lawyers were “problem drinkers,” with even higher rates for solo practitioners younger than 30. Nineteen percent of respondents reported experiencing anxiety symptoms, with a large proportion of women affected. Twenty-three per cent reported excessive stress levels and related symptoms. 28% reported being depressed, with solo practitioners and men the most vulnerable.

According to the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the legal profession ranks eighth in suicide by occupation. Therefore, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers all came together to address the problem. It was wrong that so many legal professionals were “treading water”, not knowing if they will sink or swim. They had to do something.

This group of organisations worked together for nine months to develop a strategy that would transform the sector. Their efforts culminated in a groundbreaking report, The Path to Lawyer Wellness: Practical Recommendations For Positive Change. It was released in 2017. The report contained many recommendations that legal professionals could refer to in times of crisis.

However, the task force grew significantly over the next two years, and was now comprised of more than 13 industry bodies by 2019. This group included almost everyone involved in the field, including those working in criminal law and the insurance industry.

The Task Force’s report spawned the National Lawyer Well-Being Week. The Task Force’s best practices are taken and transformed into practical items that people can use throughout the week. Monday is about staying healthy, eating right, getting enough sleep, and recovering from stress. Tuesday’s focus will be on spiritual well-being, meaning and creating meaning in your life. Wednesday’s focus is on ways to keep growing in your profession. Thursday focuses on social well-being, and the importance to be a part of a community. The focus of Friday’s session is understanding your emotions and when you should seek help.

It can be difficult for lawyers to get along. It’s not all bad news. National Lawyer Well-Being Week offers a chance to all of us to take back the stress and strains in the industry and offer some much-needed support.

Our society has seen some remarkable lawyers in history. There are millions of professionals who seek justice every day for their clients, changing lives every day.

You have many options to celebrate National Lawyer Well-Being Week. You could organize an alcohol-free Happy Hour if you have a solo practice or legal practice. An alternative idea is to hold an attorney-client seminar in order to discuss the challenges to collective well-being. A few legal firms have panels of well-being specialists to discuss the problems lawyers face and how to overcome them.

A series of webinars is being offered by the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being throughout the week. These webinars are available for free to members of the ABA. Learning objectives include teaching breathing techniques that reduce stress and improve focus. The webinar leaders will focus on using pressure to increase performance and improve physical health. The webinar leaders will also share valuable information about how to heal your body through deep sleep and healthy food.

Anyone who wants to be involved in National Lawyer Well-Being Week may post their support via social media. You can also share the materials with your legal colleagues, helping to increase the number of attorneys involved in proceedings. Don’t let the fact you aren’t a licensed professional stop you from participating!


May 01 - 05 2025


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