By J Ryann Peyton
People in need often seek the help of lawyers, but who do lawyers turn to when they need help themselves? Especially if the help sought is personal in nature.
Law is a demanding profession and there is growing concern in the legal community about the poor welfare of lawyers. Not only are attorneys suffering from a significant increase in mental health problems and substance abuse problems, but there is also a failure of attorneys to be successful, as evidenced by the significant turnover of attorneys from law firms and the profession in general. To combat these troubling facts, legal professionals must adopt new practices to improve work-life balance, reduce stress and increase overall well-being. But this goes beyond simple self-help strategies; this is about an industry-wide shift.
To provide a step forward in changing the culture of wellbeing in the Colorado legal workplace, the Colorado Supreme Court is launching a formal “recognition program” for Colorado legal employers and individual attorneys who are committed to promoting or enhancing the wellbeing of individuals hire lawyers.
This voluntary program is not intended to replace existing workplace wellbeing efforts, but provides additional ideas, incentives and support for legitimate employers seeking to implement wellbeing best practices.
The program includes the combination of an annual Pledge to Well-Being, a facilitated peer-to-peer/group mentoring experience that provides crowdsourcing of ideas to make the organization’s well-being work meaningful and relevant, and the Recognition of Welfare by the Colorado Supreme Court. as obligations and achievements of legal employers in Colorado.
The core function of the program is to provide legal Colorado employers with access to education, resources, support and technical assistance to improve well-being in their organizations. The program also creates a Legal Well-Being Leadership Network to encourage dialogue, innovation and accountability in implementing well-being practices in legal workplaces.
“The global pandemic has presented our legal system with countless new challenges; The good news is that it has also led to a greater awareness of the importance of wellbeing at work,” said Monica M. Márquez, Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. “The Court has noted a growing interest in this area and welcomes the opportunities for legal employers to collaborate on these issues through this new recognition program.”
Administered by the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, a branch of the Colorado Supreme Court, the Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers will launch in January 2023 after a three-year research and development process that included a successful pilot program. The program is open to all Colorado legal employers and individual practitioners throughout the state, regardless of size, structure, practice area, or clientele. For program details and engagement options, visit https://coloradolawyerwellbeing.org.
Colorado has the opportunity to become a national leader in attorney-led wellbeing by creating this unique program to inspire, support and recognize legal employers for implementing wellbeing policies and recommendations in their organizations. Almost three years into a global pandemic, the well-being of lawyers is more important than ever. As research conclusively confirms: 1) good lawyers are more effective and get better results; 2) well-being leads to job satisfaction; and 3) well-being reduces the risk of attorney discipline. Promoting the well-being of lawyers is good for business, good for clients and the right thing to do.
J. Ryann Peyton is the Director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, a Colorado Supreme Court program.