This Report makes a compelling case that the legal profession is at a crossroads. Our current course, one involving widespread disregard for lawyer well-being and its effects, is not sustainable. Studies cited above show that our members suffer at alarming rates from conditions that impair our ability to function at levels compatible with high ethical standards and public expectations. Depression, anxiety, chronic stress, burnout, and substance use disorders exceed those of many other professions. We have ignored this state of affairs long enough. To preserve the public’s trust and maintain our status as a self-regulating profession, we must truly become “our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” through a strong commitment to caring for the well-being of one another, as well as ourselves.
The members of the National Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being urge all stakeholders identified in this report to take action. To start, please review the State Action Plan and Checklist that follows in Appendix A. If you are a leader in one of these sectors, please use your authority to call upon your cohorts to come together and develop a plan of action. Regardless of your position in the legal profession, please consider ways in which you can make a difference in the essential task of bringing about a culture change in how we, as lawyers, regard our own well-being and that of one another.
As a profession, we have the capacity to face these challenges and create a better future for our lawyers that is sustainable. We can do so—not in spite of—but in pursuit of the highest professional standards, business practices, and ethical ideals.