It’s a well-known fact that lawyers suffer at high numbers from mental health and substance abuse problems, and a new book on lawyer wellness drives home a point that might motivate many attorneys to take action.
When wellness permeates an attorney’s life, there’s a positive impact on his law practice, clients, judges and juries, said Stewart Levine, editor and curator of the recently released book, “The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness.” Levine, whose book is published by the American Bar Association, recruited lawyers and wellness experts to pen chapters that serve as a guide toward lawyer wellness, suggesting things such as practicing yoga in the office, eating nutritiously, exercising and giving back through pro bono and volunteerism and building resilience.
The book is part of an ongoing trend to push wellness into the legal profession in the wake of eye-opening research over the past few years that showed how pervasive mental health and substance abuse issues are among lawyers.
The student leaders from 13 of the nation’s top law schools have pledged to broaden mental health initiatives on their campuses and to fight the stigma of seeking treatment.
The pledge comes at a time that law schools nationwide have launched initiatives to address students’ mental health struggles, in the wake of several eye-popping studies showing the levels of anxiety, depression and substance abuse among both law students and practicing lawyers are far surpassing the general population.
Published in The National Law Journal on Aug. 17, 2017.
Many law schools across the country run programs to help stressed out or depressed students, some of whom struggle with alcohol or drug problems.
There’s more work to do.
The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being said in a report released earlier this week that law schools must change their cultures so that everyone—professors, administrators and students—takes responsibility for student well-being. The report, issued by a coalition of groups including the American Bar Association and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, stems from a groundbreaking study published last year showing that more than 40 percent of students felt they needed mental-health help and a quarter were at risk for problem drinking.
Some law schools are ahead of the pack, the report notes, and have implemented programs to help students with mental health problems and substance abuse.
PDF: law schools take lead in student wellbeing