American Bar Association focuses on wellness

Many people make New Year’s resolutions that include making lifestyle adjustments that improve their mental and physical health. The American Bar Association has announced that in 2018, it plans to promote policies that help its members improve their health, the Daily Business Review reported.

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass announced that a key project for the organization in 2018 will be promoting wellness initiatives at law firms, where employees often work long hours under stressful conditions.

A 2016 ABA study showed that substance abuse and mental health problems were widespread in the legal profession, and that the legal profession must change to address these problems. Bass, together with the ABA board of governors, created a well-being working group called the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession to help law firms develop wellness initiatives.

The group hopes to develop a plan to send to the ABA’s house of delegates by mid-2018. The  House of Delegates will have the final say on the policy resolutions.

“Too many lawyers and law students experience chronic stress, high rates of depression and substance use,” Bass said. “This is not compatible with a sustainable legal profession.”

She said law firm policies should eliminate any policies that make lawyers feel they will face a stigma if they come forward seeking help with substance abuse or mental health issues.

They need to be able to come forward confidentially and without repercussions, Bass said.

She also suggested that law schools train students and that law firms instruct young associates about the importance of well-being. Law firms also should discuss eliminating alcohol from events, Bass said.

She said she is confident that the working group will develop useful recommendations that law firms will be easily able to integrate into their culture.

The Miami law firm Pollack, Pollack & Kogans LLC represents clients in all areas of business law. The business litigation firm acts as local counsel for out-of-state and foreign attorneys, in the fields of complex civil and commercial litigation, probate litigation, injunctive relief, judgment and debt collection, contract litigation, landlord- tenant disputes, legal ethics dilemmas, securities arbitrations, and all business concerns and disputes.