If Colorado’s Lawyers Don’t Take Care of Each Other, Who Will?

Opinion

J. Ryann Peyton
Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program


People in need of help often seek the assistance of lawyers, but where do lawyers turn when they need help of their own? Especially if the help being sought is of a personal nature.

The law is a demanding profession and there is growing concern within the legal community over a lack of lawyer well-being. Not only are lawyers suffering from a significant increase in mental health issues and substance abuse problems, but there is also a failure of lawyers to thrive as evidenced by significant attorney attrition from law firms and the profession generally. To combat these troubling facts, legal professionals need to 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.

In creating a step forward in shifting the culture of well-being in Colorado’s legal workplaces, the Colorado Supreme Court is launching a formal “Recognition Program” for Colorado legal employers and solo practitioners who demonstrate commitment to promoting or improving the well-being of lawyers.

This voluntary program is not meant to replace existing well-being efforts in the profession, but will provide additional ideas, incentives, and support for legal employers seeking to implement well-being best practices.

The program includes the combination of an annual Pledge to Well-Being, a facilitated peer-to-peer/group mentoring experience offering idea crowdsourcing to make organizational well-being work meaningful and relevant, and recognition by the Colorado Supreme Court of the well-being commitments and achievements of Colorado legal employers.

The core function of the program is to provide Colorado legal 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 created myriad new challenges for our legal system; the good news is that it also brought a heightened awareness of the importance of well-being in the profession,” Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica M. Márquez said. “The Court has seen a groundswell of interest in this area and is excited about the opportunities for legal employers to collaborate on these issues through this new Recognition Program.”

Managed by the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, an office of the Colorado Supreme Court, the Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers will launch in January 2023 following a three-year research and development process that included a successful pilot program. The program is open to all Colorado legal employers and solo practitioners across the state regardless of size, structure, practice area, or clientele. Program details and engagement options can be found at https://coloradolawyerwellbeing.org.

Colorado has the opportunity to be a national leader in lawyer-led well-being by creating this first-of-its-kind program to incentivize, support, and recognize legal employers for implementing well-being strategies and recommendations within their organizations. Nearly three years into a global pandemic, lawyer well-being is more important than ever. As the research conclusively bears out: (1) well lawyers are more effective and achieve better outcomes; (2) well-being breeds job satisfaction; and (3) well-being reduces the risk of attorney discipline. Promoting attorney well-being is good for business, good for clients, and the right thing to do.

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