Missouri Bar wellness committee gathers virtually
Members of The Missouri Bar’s newly created Lawyers Living Well Special Committee met for the first time Friday, Feb. 26. The committee was formed under the direction of 2020-21 Missouri Bar President John Gunn and is aimed at addressing well-being matters within the state’s legal community.
“Aspects of the practice of law impacting the well-being of lawyers is certainly not new, but providing the space to address them is,” Gunn said. “The issues presented are pervasive, and considerations of the special committee could be innumerable if not for such a superbly well-suited group of professionals enthusiastically devoted to the cause.”
Athena Dickson, of Kansas City, chairs the group, with Whittney Dunn, of St. Louis, and Erica Mynarich, of Springfield, serving as co-chairs. Additionally, Callie Pippin Raitinger and Erin McClernon, of Kansas City, and Hon. William Gust, of St. Louis, serve as facilitators for the committee’s three working groups.
During the virtual meeting, members introduced themselves and shared why lawyer well-being is important to them. They then broke into sub-sections to focus on education, policy, and stigma surrounding lawyer wellness. These working groups will continue to meet monthly to discuss ways to best address mental health, substance use, depression, burnout, and other common concerns that Missouri lawyers face.
Research, including the 2016 ABA CoLAP and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s study of mental health and substance use disorders among lawyers, consistently shows that lawyers are more prone to these issues than other professionals, and Missouri lawyers are no exception. The wellness committee noted these matters can develop as early as law school and follow lawyers throughout their careers.
“We are thrilled at the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the leaders and members of this special committee to improving the well-being of Missouri lawyers,” Gunn said.
Additional Missouri Bar efforts to help lawyers by promoting health and wellness include the:
Missouri Lawyers' Assistance Program (MOLAP) which offers 24/7 free and confidential counseling
CLE programming at major conferences focused on wellness
New lifestyle member benefits including fitness discounts