The Kansas Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and the Path Forward
By Bob Lambrechts and Harrison Rosenthal
This article is focused upon the general well-being of lawyers licensed to practice law in the state of Kansas. In August of 2017 the ABA issued a comprehensive report titled National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, Creating a Movement to Improve Well-Being in the Legal Profession.[i] The preamble to the report provides in part –
To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly, our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being. The two studies[ii] referenced above reveal that 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.
In response to the unsettling findings of this ABA report, in January of 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court commissioned a state task force on lawyer well-being. The task force is comprised of members from the state bar association, judges, private practitioners, government lawyers, lawyer assistance programs, law schools and legal insurance providers. Over the past several years the Kansas Task Force has deliberated extensively to discern the optimal path forward for lending support to Kansas licensed lawyers who struggle with well-being and the impact that can have on their professional and personal lives. The ABA report specifically identifies six dimensions in which lawyers should seek to thrive. Those six dimensions are (1) emotional, (2) occupational, (3) intellectual, (4) spiritual, (5) social, and (6) physical. These six dimensions are not listed in any order and will be discussed in greater detail later in this article.
REFERENCES[i] https://lawyerwellbeing.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lawyer-Wellbeing-Report.pdf [ii] 2016 ABA CoLAP and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s study of mental health and substance use disorders among lawyers and the 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being.