The Lawyer Wellness Library is a California nonprofit corporation devoted to ensuring the success of all U.S. lawyers from the first day of their entry into the legal profession and throughout the ups and downs of this difficult job. Although lawyering is almost entirely defined by licensing bodies and law organizations, the right help for personal and private distress comes from wellness organizations, which exist to deal with physical and emotional troubles, addictions, and suicide prevention. The legal profession imposes its own challenges – like rules of professional conflict, diversity and inclusion, and an unrelenting stigma – that make navigating a career full of risk, such that new licensees face an almost one-in-three chance of losing their careers before their tenth year of practice.
The Lawyer Wellness Library is designed to deliver a comprehensive collection of information from all wellness providers – both in the fields of law and in the fields of addiction and mental health – to all lawyers so that none are forced to find the path to well-being on their own. The situation has become so problematic that whether a lawyer gets the help they need should not be left to happenstance. The existential importance of this nationwide and industrywide problem cannot be overstated: The failure of lawyers affects every fiber of the legal system because everything we do depends upon lawyer competency as defined by ethical rules.
MISSION - The Lawyer Wellness Library’s Mission is twofold and interrelated: (1) to expand the reach of the goals and missions of every legal organization that exists to promote the welfare of practicing lawyers by bringing to all lawyers, right from the start, a wide variety of web-based resources so every practitioner can manage the stress and anxiety of the legal profession in their own way and according to their unique life situation, and (2) to provide funding to strapped nonprofit organizations that fill the unmet inner needs of troubled lawyers.
VISION - The Lawyer Wellness Library’s Vision is that all Stakeholders in the legal industry join together to inform the way to good health for the lawyers who suffer the personal and emotional consequences of helping their clients prevail. This Library envisions that it will facilitate every nonprofit legal organization’s goals by bringing their messages (free of charge) to all students and alumni of every law school (also free of charge) through a revenue strategy of subdomains. The Librarian will curate this digital collection of wellness information from the substantial content created by other entities and organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) so that every lawyer, from Day One, has a broad and comprehensive selection of wellness strategies to use to protect and promote their own, individual well-being.
In less than ten years, this Library can bring to all lawyers, from the day they enter law school, the reasons and the strategies for being and staying happy in life. The wisdom to encourage lawyers to find and seek help before their competency is impaired is not solely the responsibility of CLE’s that only get viewed when mandatory units are required for relicensing. Finding inner peace takes more than that; it takes hearing about the reformed lives of people just like us. The Library’s Vision brings 21 st Century technology in the form of an easily accessible, dynamic virtual landscape of wellness information where lawyers can find answers to their unique life situations. No one Stakeholder can achieve that goal alone; it takes the joint cooperation of all Stakeholders; a perfect expression of mutualism.
The ABA and its national campaign for Lawyer Well-Being, along with the effort of the Lawyers Assistance Programs in all 50 states, create excellent articles and videos for troubled lawyers; however, studies reveal that lawyers are reluctant to reach out to those organizations and, in fact, everyone knows those excellent materials are mostly not reaching their target audience. There is only so much that non-profit organizations, whether in law or in fields promoting mental health, can accomplish under existing tax rules and NGO paradigms.
Thus, this Library is being created to bring helpful information from organizations in the fields of addictions, mental health, and the law, to all lawyers, every month, free of charge. The idea of this Library is to influence lawyers, by exposing them to strategies that have worked for others in highly stressful jobs, so they will find their way to a place of equanimity. Extra monies generated by this nonprofit will be used to provide needed funding to other nonprofits, specifically ones that provide services to lawyers who are in need of help. After all, if this Library increases the willingness of lawyers to reach out for help, we need to make sure the help is there for them.
We need to reach lawyers who are troubled before they drown in those troubles and get completely off-track. The best way to accomplish this goal is to bring a comprehensive collection of wellness strategies to all lawyers, free of charge, before they are confronted with more than they can handle. The Library does this by persuading Stakeholders who care about the well-being of lawyers to bring it to them – in an easily accessible, interesting, and engaging format.
One such Stakeholder is the legal malpractice carrier, who is called upon to pay the claims of clients whose lawyers fell off the deep end. The other such Stakeholder is the law school, whose graduates need help the school can no longer give them. Each law school labors to prepare their students to be good lawyers, only to have it all fall apart because the lawyer eventually met a challenge without support, and succumbed instead of overcoming.
Another Stakeholder is law schools, who will have a subdomain to use for delivering the Library to its students and its alumni. Each student and all alumni will have a Library Card that brings a private, secure Dashboard, for their personal use in the Library. Something like half of all lawyers would choose not to go to law school if they could choose again. In all likelihood, those unhappy alumni are not sending money to their alma mater; but we can change that attitude by addressing the causes of their dissatisfaction – increasing their personal and professional success by getting to the core of their unhappiness.
Finally, each subdomain will carry full-blown advertising from businesses that want to promote their own good will by helping bring wellness resources to lawyers, and the money raised from that taxable advertising will ensure that the Library is free to all lawyers and law schools – and any extra revenue can be used to support those nonprofits in the field who exist to help lawyers and may be running short on funds.
There are about 64 legal malpractice carriers in the U.S. and Canada, and about 185 American law schools. The Lawyer Wellness Library expects to reach 700,000 lawyers across this country within the first full year of operation. The Library will also solicit the participation of government agencies and in-house corporate counsel’s offices – because they employ lawyers who are not insured and won’t receive the Library through carriers. While every lawyer is an alumnus from some school, not all of them are reachable by their alma mater. Hence, this multidelivery approach should eventually, within five years, reach all practicing lawyers. Right now, there are about 1.3 million licensed practitioners in this country who are receiving fifty different versions of LAPs and state enforcement of rules of professional responsibility. There should be one place to find it all.
At present, large numbers of lawyers mostly dislike what they do; the lives of many lawyers are filled with unhappiness. There are ways to change that reality, and we should try. The Library will do its part by expanding the reach of all legal organizations and the messages they share through a first-rate, engaging, website that brings easily accessible help to all lawyers of every state to find what they need without spending time looking for it and without having to reveal their names or particular situation. The Library will provide privacy, confidentiality, and psychological safety for each lawyer to explore their own place of emotional balance and job satisfaction.
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