Good Lawyering Begins and Ends with Your Well Being

Many lawyers struggle with the concept of "wellness" and how to incorporate it into their professional life. In recent years, the American Bar Association (ABA) has made a concerted effort to include wellness as a new cornerstone of our profession. To that end, in 2017, The National Task Force on Lawyer Well Being established by the ABA released a report that shed light on the lack of well-being in the legal profession. More recently, the Virginia State Bar’s Special Committee on Lawyer Well-Being released a report that aims to identify the occupational risks and reasons behind the wellness deficiencies described that 2017 report. The Committee believes that it is vital that the root causes of the lack of well-being in the legal profession be clearly identified in order to be addressed and avoided. The report contains a matrix of twenty specific aspects of characteristics of the practice of law that might serve as a risk to a lawyer’s well-being. These occupational risks are divided into four categories: physical risks, mental and emotional risks, adaptation risks, and self-actualization risks. For each of the twenty identified risks, the report contains an overview of the risk and its potential effects as well as actionable steps that individuals and organizations can take in order to mitigate the risk. The suggested steps are directly mainly to law firms, but also law schools, bar associations, bar examiners, and courts.  The Committee highlights the fact that this report is not intended to be academic in nature. Rather, the goal of the report was both to create an accessible resource for the legal community and to aid spouses, significant others, and family members who, though not lawyers themselves, are keenly aware of these wellness issues. It is with these goals in mind that the Committee “dispense[d] with many of the conventions of legal academic writings to promote readability.” What resulted is a clearly organized report with practical tools and actionable items aimed at combating the wellness deficiencies of the legal profession. Read the report here for steps you can take to improve your professional well-being: