Every sector of the legal profession must support lawyer well-being. Each of us can take a leadership role within our own spheres to change the profession’s mindset from passive denial of problems to proactive support for change. We have the capacity to make a difference.
For too long, the legal profession has turned a blind eye to widespread health problems. Many in the legal profession have behaved, at best, as if their colleagues’ well-being is none of their business. At worst, some appear to believe that supporting well-being will harm professional success. Many also appear to believe that lawyers’ health problems are solely attributable to their own personal failings for which they are solely responsible.
As to the long-standing psychological distress and substance use problems, many appear to believe that the establishment of lawyer assistance programs—a necessary but not sufficient step toward a solution—has satisfied any responsibility that the profession might have. Lawyer assistance programs have made incredible strides; however, to meaningfully reduce lawyer distress, enhance well-being, and change legal culture, all corners of the legal profession need to prioritize lawyer health and well-being. It is not solely a job for lawyer assistance programs. Each of us shares responsibility for making it happen.