Next week marks National Lawyer Well-Being Week. To align with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Lawyer Well-Being Week will occur May 4-8, 2020. Participating organizations include the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division and its Attorney Well-Being Committee, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program’s (CoLAP) Well-Being Committee.
Locally, organizations such as the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program, the Kansas Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, and the Kansas Bar Association will also participate. The aim of Well-Being Week is to raise awareness and encourage action across the profession to improve well-being for lawyers and their support teams. Many organizations have plans to host free CLE programs and online events. Be sure to stay tuned for more information!
Did you see the feature in the New York Times this weekend, The Lawyer, the Addict? It's been the theme of many of my listservs since it popped into peoples' newsfeeds. The article is a compelling read, made so in large part by the writer's viewpoint from outside of the profession.
Those of us in the profession have repeatedly heard the statistics on lawyer depression, addiction and suicide. In every one of those areas our profession ranks worse than most all others. Some of us have lost a colleague to depression and suicide. Lawyers have offices where we ask people to bring in their stress, their problems, difficult situations, threats they are concerned about and other such matters.
But I think this story of Peter, dying from the impact of his drug addiction while still maintaining appearances as a partner in a high-powered law firm, breaks some of our assumptions about what addicted lawyer behavior looks like. His last call from his death bed was to call in to a scheduled conference call.
I have no great wisdom to share on this critical topic today. But it bears repeating to say, if you are in trouble, reach out for help. Many bar associations provide crisis counseling to members now. In Kansas, the Kansas Lawyer Assistance Program (KALAP) provides assistance to attorneys in the state. To reach a confidential person through KALAP, call the hotline at 800-342-9080 or 785-368-8275 during office hours. To learn more about KALAP, visit the website kalap.com. There are other community resources for many situations. Ask for help if you need it.
Thank you to Jim Calloway, Practice Management Attorney at the Oklahoma Bar Association for publishing a portion of this post.