New research published in 2016 illuminated the need to improve Lawyer Well-Being, and the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being assembled in response, publishing The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. The Task Force Report offered recommendations for all stakeholders in the profession, with specific action steps for Judges, Regulators, Legal Employers, Law Schools, Bar Associations, Liability Insurance Carriers, and Lawyers Assistance Programs (that’s us!). Forming a Well-Being Committee ranked among the Task Force’s most advised action steps for stakeholders as a group and individually — for the obvious reasons that collective awareness, attention, and action are more effective than we can expect to see from isolated efforts. Earlier this year, the ABA House of Delegates resolved to support well-being goals and to urge all stakeholders to consider the Report’s recommendations.
Observing the influence the Judiciary holds in our profession, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court confirmed its commitment to creating positive change by forming a Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. The Committee “will explore ways to reduce stress on attorneys, help restore work-life balance, increase professional satisfaction and better support those who are confronting mental health and substance use disorders.” Members of the Commonwealth’s Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being were announced by Chief Justice Gants in his annual State of the Judiciary Address on October 24th. The steering committee is coordinated by Honorable Margot Botsford (ret.), who served as an associate justice on the SJC from 2007 to 2017.
“Committee members represent different areas of the legal community, including judges, bar regulators, legal employers, and representatives from law schools, bar associations, and the lawyer assistance program. They will be responsible for consulting with a diverse, representative group in their respective areas of practice or work, including lawyers in recovery, to learn what is currently being done to support lawyer well-being, to explore best practices, and to consider whether structural changes need to be made to better foster the health of the profession.”
Read the full press release from the SJC here.
While our Steering Committee works for deeper progress, anyone in the profession can help by planning proactively for their own well-being and sharing practical information with colleagues. Anne Brafford (Editor-in-Chief of the Task Force Report, former Big Law equity partner and founder of Aspire) studied under the founders of positive psychology and authored Positive Professionals (published in 2017 by the ABA). Anne developed a couple other resources that offer practical tools to support and develop well-being:
- Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers: Get the basics on Lawyer Well-Being, guidance for a policy & practice audit, online resources & technology, lists of potential collaborators, an 8-Step Action Plan for Legal Employers, and more. Find key points in her Well-Being Toolkit Nutshell: 80 Tips for Law Firm Thriving.
- Quick Tips to Beat Stress [Webinar]: Get practical, science-backed tips derived from positive psychology, organizational behavior, and neuroscience that can help you harness your attention to design better days every day in Anne’s 32-minute installment of our ongoing Webinars for Busy Lawyers series.
All of us at LCL are excited to support this important work in Massachusetts and across the US, and are particularly grateful to the Steering Committee members for committing their time and energy to focus on this critical underpinning of justice:
- Honorable Margot Botsford, Supreme Judicial Court (Ret.), Coordinator;
- Honorable Gabrielle R. Wolohojian, Appeals Court;
- Denise I. Murphy, Esq., Vice President, Massachusetts Bar Association;
- Richard Page, Esq., Executive Director, Boston Bar Association;
- Marilyn J. Wellington, Esq., Executive Director, Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners;
- Constance Vecchione, Esq., Bar Counsel, Office of the Bar Counsel;
- Joseph Berman, Esq., General Counsel, Board of Bar of Overseers;
- David P. Rosenblatt, Esq., Burns & Levinson, LLP;
- Travaun Bailey, Esq., Law Office of William Travaun Bailey;
- Anna Levine, Esq., Executive Director, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers;
- Mary Strother, Esq., First Assistant Attorney General;
- David A. Deakin, Esq., Assistant District Attorney, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office;
- Pasqua Scibelli, Esq., Staff Attorney – Appeals, Committee for Public Counsel Services;
- Christine Hughes, Esq., Vice President and General Counsel, Emerson College;
- Geraldine M. Muir, Esq., Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Boston University School of Law;
- Lyonel Jean-Pierre, Jr., Esq., Clinical Instructor, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau