Lawyer Well-Being Goal Areas
A major goal of this Recognition Program is to distill what are considered to be the more significant issues and resources in lawyer well-being and provide a clearinghouse of “well-being best practices” in legal organizations based upon these resources.
There are several key resources that serve as the basis for the design of this program including, but not limited to: The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change and the ABA’s Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being Report to the Justices, the Virginia State Bar publication, The Occupational Risks of the Practice of Law, What Makes Lawyers Happy? A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success authored by Professors Krieger and Sheldon, and Capitalizing on Healthy Lawyers: The Business Case for Law Firms to Promote and Prioritize Lawyer Well-Being.
Click the links below to access full recommendations and goal plans for each of the program goal areas!
Well-being occurs from the top leadership through the rest of the legal organization. A committed law firm equity owner or committee including equity owner(s) should be responsible for developing an attorney well-being program with appropriate buy-in from attorneys throughout the firm. Likewise, leaders in other legal organizations must be involved. Goals should be developed along with assessment tools.
Professional development is an investment that pays off for legal employers on many levels: it enhances competence and effectiveness of lawyers, instills a sense of dedication and belonging, and this demonstrated support can improve overall morale and well-being.
Flexible work arrangements respect lawyers’ desire for autonomy and some measure of control over professional and personal lives. There are multiple ways that legal employers can convey that work-life integration is expected, not just accepted.
Organizations should promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and multiculturalism, not just as good business practices, but because they contribute significantly to lawyer and staff well-being. Organizations should recognize that increasing cultural competence, addressing institutional and systemic barriers to success for diverse lawyers, and providing welcoming and inclusive work environments and organizational climates will lead to increased attorney wellness and retention.
Consideration should be given to alternative ways to compensate lawyers and staff for performance rather than focusing on the billable hour exclusively. Moving away from this single metric can decrease stress on employees, promote greater productivity, and bolster recruitment and retention of lawyers who have families, plan to start families, are required to care for family members or may be close to retirement.
True growth in well-being initiatives comes over time and must be assessed against organizational goals and objectives. A healthy well-being initiative will be measured in the short-term, medium-term, and long term and appropriate changes should be made to the initiative at each interval to promote sustainability and innovation.
The collective purpose of these goal areas is to encourage legal organizations in Colorado to address attorney well-being proactively and to implement recommendations within their organizations to address each of the goal areas. The recommendations are designed on a spectrum to allow legal employers to select and implement recommendations on a scale from easy and comfortable to challenging and disruptive to traditional legal profession paradigms.
Each year, legal employers will be encouraged to build upon the recommendations implemented in the prior year to progressively implement more revolutionary changes within their organization structure and culture to positively influence well-being.