Jordana Confino, director of professionalism and special projects and adjunct professor, wrote an article, published in the Journal of Legal Education, titled “Where Are We on the Path to Law Student Well-Being?: Report on the ABA CoLAP Law Student Assistance Committee Law School Wellness Survey.” Confino examines how the well-being of law students and lawyers is addressed at law schools.
The legal profession has been aware for some time that lawyers and law students experience significant challenges in the areas of substance use and mental health. However, despite widespread recognition of the problems plaguing members of the legal profession, for years, far too little was done to address these problems. Indeed, more than a decade after the eye-opening 1993 Report of the Association of American Law Schools Special Committee on Problems of Substance Abuse in the Law Schools,2 in 2016 two studies revealed that the problems of depression, anxiety, and problem drinking persist among both lawyers and law students.
Prompted by these studies, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (“ABA CoLAP”), together with the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, commissioned a National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (“Task Force”) with a goal of changing the culture and conversation surrounding attorney well-being to promote a healthier and more productive legal profession. In August 2017, the Task Force issued a groundbreaking report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (“Task Force Report”), sounding a call to action for the legal community and proposing a slate of recommendations for various stakeholders (including judges, regulators, legal employers, law schools, bar associations, professional liability carriers, and lawyer assistance programs).4 The recommendations included nine proposed strategies for law schools to implement to counteract the harmful aspects of legal education and better support law student wellbeing.