The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change

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Sturm College of Law


Responsibility, Well-being, Help-seeking, Relationships, Lawyer Assistance Programs, Collegiality, Respect, Diversity, Inclusivity, Mentoring, Sponsorship, Educational Programs, Alcohol, Social events, Substance use disorders, Suicide prevention, Impaired judges, Mental health disorders, Judicial well-being surveys, Continuing education, Proactive Management-Based Programs (PMBP), Centralized grievance, Work addiction, Social isolation, Professional responsibility, Professional counselors, Confidential Recovery Network (CRN), Stress, Burnout, Mindfulness, Rejuvenation, Work-life


To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly, our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being. Too many lawyers and law students experience chronic stress and high rates of depression and substance use. These findings are incompatible with a sustainable legal profession, and they raise troubling implications for many lawyers’ basic competence. This research suggests that the current state of lawyers’ health cannot support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on the public trust.

The legal profession is already struggling. Our profession confronts a dwindling market share as the public turns to more accessible, affordable alternative legal service providers. We are at a crossroads. To maintain public confidence in the profession, to meet the need for innovation in how we deliver legal services, to increase access to justice, and to reduce the level of toxicity that has allowed mental health and substance use disorders to fester among our colleagues, we have to act now. Change will require a wide-eyed and candid assessment of our members’ state of being, accompanied by courageous commitment to re-envisioning what it means to live the life of a lawyer.

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Copyright is held by the American Bar Association. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This report was originally published as The Path to Lawyer Well-being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, ABA Nat'l Task Force on Law. Well-Being Rep. (contributing author) (2017).

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American Bar Association


English (eng)


73 pgs

Publication Title

National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being



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