Stand out, be recognized: Adopt the Model Policy for Law Firms Addressing Impairment
by Anne Chambers, LCSW
Happy, healthy lawyers help firms thrive, and now is a great time to put attorney well-being front and center in your organization.
Happy, healthy lawyers help firms thrive, and now is a great time to put attorney well-being front and center in your organization. The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program offers a Model Policy for Law Firms to assist companies in addressing substance and mental health concerns. Having this tool in place makes it easier to respond effectively and help colleagues in a crisis. The model policy was endorsed by The Missouri Bar Board of Governors in 2013 and can be modified to suit the needs of any practice or firm. Firms that use the model policy may receive an informational seminar once a year from a representative of the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program.
The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association was one of the early endorsers of the policy, and Stinson; Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; and Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. have all adopted it. If your law firm is interested in adopting the model, we’re here to help! If your firm has already adopted the model policy, please contact the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program office at 1-800-688-7859 to let us know so we can give your firm a shout out at the Missouri Bar Annual Meeting and Judicial Conference in September. This year’s annual meeting will feature a wellness track; get the details at http://www.mobar.org/am2019/.
The 7 Point Lawyer Well-Being Pledge
Wellness is a hot topic on a national level, and American Bar Association President Bob Carlson and the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession recently announced a challenge for legal employers to sign the Well-Being Pledge for Legal Employers. Several firms across the U.S. promptly did so, pledging to take the following seven steps to reduce substance and mental health concerns in the legal profession, improve the well-being of attorneys and help create a healthier profession:
1. “Provide education to attorneys and staff on topics related to well-being, mental health and substance use disorders.” MOLAP can help by providing education and prevention programs that address stress, depression and substance concerns for firms, local bar organizations and conferences upon request.
2. “Disrupt the status quo of drinking based events by making meaningful alternatives available.”
3. “Develop visible partnerships with outside resources committed to reducing substance use disorders and mental health distress in the profession.”
4. “Provide confidential access to addiction and mental health experts and resources.”
5. “Develop proactive policies and protocols to support assessment and treatment of substance use and mental health problems, including a defined-back to-work policy following treatment.”Missouri’s Model Policy on law firms addressing impairment is a good example of this.
6. “Demonstrate that help-seeking and self-care are core cultural values by regularly supporting programs to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.”
7. “Highlight the adoption of this framework to attract and retain the best lawyers and staff.”
Learn more about the law firm well-being pledge here.
The Power of Recovery
If problems are successfully addressed, performance returns to normal, and sometimes it is even better than before. Interested in learning more about the power of recovery? Check out the inspiring Besden Redemption video and the Voices of Recovery Series, which features real-life stories of recovery. Recovery retains rainmakers, and protects clients, reputations and careers. The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program video at mobar.org/molap/lawyers/ speaks about the practical and personal benefits of recovery. Struggling lawyers sometimes reach out after considering such messages of hope and encouragement.
If you are concerned about substance use, please contact the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at (800) 688-7859 for free, confidential assistance. If you are struggling right now, we welcome your call.
1. ABA Press Release. “ABA launches pledge campaign to improve mental health and well- being of lawyers.“ https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2018/09/aba-launches-pledge-campaign-to-improve-mental-health-and-well-b/, 9/10/18.
2. ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. “ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession.” https://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance/working-group_to_advance_well-being_in_legal_profession/, 4/12/2019.
3. Missouri Bar. St. Louis firm Gray, Ritter, Graham, P.C. Most Recent to Join Effort to Build Safety Net for Lawyers. http://www.mobar.org/Media-Center/News-Blog/Strategies-to-strengthen-the-safety-net-for-legal-professionals/, 2018.