As one of my favorite bands, Pink Floyd, once asked in a curious but compelling song (“Comfortably Numb”), “Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anybody home?”.
The importance of lawyer well-being has been championed by none other than the American Bar Association (“ABA”)–the premier institution existing today to address and publicize issues that are critical to the legal profession–and our law firms have done little to respond in any meaningful way. To use a phrase, the silence has been deafening.
I won’t quote extensively from the now well-known Report published by the ABA-appointed National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, but it is worthwhile to cite the sub-headers that are highlighted in the “Global Recommendations”:
- Acknowledge the Problems and Take Responsibility;
- Use This Report as a Launch Pad for a Profession-Wide Action Plan;
- Leaders Should Demonstrate a Personal Commitment To Well-Being;
- Facilitate, Destigmatize and Encourage Help-Seeking Behaviors;
- Build Relationships With Lawyer Well-Being Experts;
- Foster Collegiality and Respectful Engagement Throughout The Profession;
- Enhance Lawyers’ Sense of Control;
- Provide High-Quality Educational Programs About Lawyer Distress and Well-Being;
- Guide and Support The Transitions of Older Lawyers;
- De-emphasize Alcohol at Social Events;
- Utilize Monitoring to Support Recovery from Substance Use Disorders;
- Begin a Dialogue About Suicide Prevention; and
- Support A Lawyer Well-Being Index to Measure The Profession’s Progress.
Mindfulness and meditation are important pieces of the well-being pie, and it behooves the legal profession to take up the critical issues identified by the ABA’s thorough Report–it’s about the sustainability of our profession.
Everybody now understands the importance of promoting physical fitness among our professionals. It’s time we begin paying equal attention to our minds–mental/emotional fitness–particularly in a profession that invests so much in the minds of the men and women who make up our profession. Our lawyers’ minds are our single most valuable asset!
David Gilmour was obviously not the dean of a law school, president of a bar association, or managing partner of a law firm, but maybe–just maybe– he and his band were able to put into words or music something that we in the legal profession need to hear.
Maybe we in the legal profession have become, “comfortably numb” to something we need to now prioritize and invest in– lawyer well-being, including mindfulness and meditation. There is a solid business case for doing so. There is a solid management case for doing do. And there is a compelling individual case for doing so (See, prior blog postings).
Is there anybody in there?