Being a lawyer can be stressful and taxing, even in the best of times, and the result can have severe and detrimental impacts on an attorney's well-being. There are many efforts to address this growing concern, including Lawyer Assistance Programs and initiatives such as the creation of Attorney Well-Being Week. Some states require attorneys to enroll in wellness-related continuing legal education courses in categories such as substance abuse and mental health. Most other states will accredit wellness programs as ethics credits.
Combating the epidemic of attorney fatigue requires structural change at law firms and other legal workplaces, and in the justice system writ large. For individual attorneys, however, there are skills you can learn to manage stress on an everyday basis. If you’re looking for some new strategies to manage and care for your own mental health, check out one of Lawline’s top twenty Attorney Wellness CLE programs, designed to be practical, enjoyable, and most importantly, to help you deal with the daily struggles every lawyer is familiar with:
Overcoming Compassion Fatigue: Attorney Wellness When Working With Clients in TraumaMany legal matters occur at times of acute stress, and attorneys who work with clients who have faced trauma frequently experience secondary trauma during their representation. This course provides techniques for preventing and managing secondary trauma, including specific advice on listening to traumatic stories, and self-care practices.
Depression: An Occupational Hazard of the Legal ProfessionThis program goes beyond the statistics on lawyer depression and substance abuse, providing a comprehensive overview of risk factors and symptoms of depression and intervention strategies for attorneys with colleagues in need of support. It also outlines the resources that are available to attorneys who are struggling.
Striving for a (Realistic) Attorney Work/Life Balance in 2021Setting and maintaining a realistic work-life balance is particularly important for attorneys. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned. This course provides information on identifying the early warning signs of impairment and burnout, as well as well-being strategies that really work.
Developing Resilience and Achieving Well-Being in Times of Challenge and ChaosAs law firms and other workplaces re-open, any "return to normal" must include a reckoning with the struggles and trauma of the last year, and this means building cultures of resilience and well-being. This course will use case studies to teach attorneys and law firm leaders specific techniques to develop mindfulness, resilience, and reduce workplace stressors.
Stress Management for Attorneys: Ethical Traps for the UnwaryThis informative and interesting course focuses on the effects of chronic stress and how these impair a lawyer’s ability to practice law. The program uses neuroscience to describe the impact of chronic stress and teaches evidence-based strategies to manage it. One viewer called it the “best and most useful ethics course I have ever taken.”
“I Don't Belong” — Imposter Syndrome in the Legal ProfessionLiving in constant fear of discovery, attorneys strive for perfection in everything they do. Attorneys might feel guilty or worthless when they can't achieve perfection on the job, not to mention burned out and overwhelmed by their continued efforts. The results can be devastating. This course will help you attain a better understanding of the concept of imposter syndrome and overcome the self-doubts that prevent you from achieving your career objectives.
Argue Better: Improve Civility Through Enhanced Self-AwarenessConflict is an unavoidable component of the legal profession, which can sometimes result in inappropriate or rude behavior toward colleagues and others. This attorney wellness program provides valuable instruction on how to curb impulsive actions and respond to stressful situations with more patience and civility.
Attorney Licensure and the Impaired Professional (Update)Substance use disorders and mental health challenges can affect any attorney regardless of gender, culture, ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status. This program helps attorneys recognize the signs of an impaired professional and offers information about resources that assist in the recovery process. The course also provides information on the potential disciplinary implications of impairment in the legal profession.
Be It Resolved: Striving for a (Realistic) Work/Life Balance for Lawyers in 2022Recent studies have shown that there has been a dramatic increase in impairment due to alcoholism, addiction, and mental health disorders among members of the legal profession. This continuing legal education course helps attorneys learn essential steps for attaining a healthier balance between work and life. Discover how to establish realistic goals that increase productivity and reduce stress.
Beyond Mere Lip Service: Best Practices for Creating a Wellness Program that Supports the Needs of LawyersThis course explores the motivational forces that compel lawyers to achieve and how they sometimes contradict the factors that lead to career fulfillment. The program includes an analysis of well-being resources for attorneys and explores what makes lawyers happy. It also reviews the implied ethical obligations of maintaining well-being.
11. Breaking the Law of Stress
While practicing law can be stressful, an attorney's mindset plays a crucial role in how they manage the pressure and its impact on their mental health. This course helps you learn how to view stress as helpful instead of harmful. You will also discover ways to use stress to your advantage while minimizing its adverse health effects.
12. Channeling Your Physical, Social & Emotional Energy Into a More Ethical Law Practice
Many attorneys are unaware of the effect that their emotional health has on their professional lives. This interactive program delves into the layers of physical, social, and emotional energy behaviors and their impact. Discover how to identify specific self-care techniques that alleviate stress and increase resiliency.
13. Compassion Fatigue and Trauma-Informed Legal Practice
This course sheds light on the sources of stress and trauma in the legal profession and the clients it serves. Learn various methods for managing compassion fatigue, developing a trauma-informed practice, and improving organizational health.
14. Channeling Your Physical, Social & Emotional Energy Into a More Ethical Law Practice
This interactive program shows you how to perform a self-assessment of your physical, social, and emotional needs and unique energy behaviors. You will learn to identify when you are experiencing stress in any of these areas and the self-care steps that can help you manage it.
15. Emotional Freedom Technique/EFT Tapping for Lawyers
This program explores how to use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tool to promote wellness. You will learn how the brain processes stress and how it appears in the human body.
16. The Power of Connection – Support from Peers (and Even Adversaries)
In this refreshingly honest and empowering course, three co-founders of the Lawyers Depression Project (Joseph Milowic, David Evan Markus, and Reid Murtaugh) explore the power of connection, the benefits of peer support among legal professionals, and the multitude of resources available to legal professionals experiencing mental health challenges.
17. Is Starting Your Own Law Firm Right for You? Taking Control of Your Professional Destiny by Going Solo
Many attorneys may be struggling with adapting to life post-pandemic, returning to in-person work, and more. Barbara Zabawa explores how starting your own practice might provide benefits to those seeking more control over their professional life, and ultimately improve your mental and physical well-being.
18. Developing Resilience and Achieving Well-Being in Times of Challenge and Chaos
As we move forward from the pandemic, lawyers must learn to cultivate self-care to better serve their clients. This course helps attorneys learn to become resilient so that they will not just survive but thrive in the practice of law and all domains of life. Taught by Cedric Ashley - an experienced attorney, leadership coach, author, trainer, and facilitator - attorneys will walk away with practical tools for managing chronic stress through realistic case studies that will bring these concepts to life.
19. Supporting Attorney Well-Being through Ethical and Effective Leadership
This program, presented by LiLing Poh of Reed Smith LLP and Mindfulness and Leadership Coach Kim Nicol, offers leaders within legal organizations effective strategies to reduce the risk of malpractice, increase team sustainability and resilience, lead with grace, and learn how to manage through the stress, anxiety, and burnout that are so prevalent within the legal profession.
20. Risk, Regulation & Resilience: Linking Malpractice, Competence, and Attorney Well-Being
Mental health and substance use disorders can affect any attorney, in any setting, and at any time. Left untreated, they can destroy careers and lives. This program, taught by Tracy Kepler, the Risk Control Director for CNA's Lawyers Insurance Program, examines the nexus between ethical competence and attorney well-being and outlines preventative measures firms and organizations can take to protect clients and minimize risk around attorney well-being issues. It also educates attendees on how to recognize the impaired attorney, how to approach the conversation with a colleague, and how to effectively discuss the possible disciplinary and professional liability implications of an impaired attorney's conduct.
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Last updated on May 2, 2023