The Lawyer Wellness Library is a digital clearinghouse of wellness information that will bring to all lawyers, from the time they enter law school, an easily navigable website that collects wellness strategies devoted to promoting lawyer contentment. It will succeed at helping lawyers find their balance because it addresses the heart of why lawyers are unhappy by taking the smart ideas of others and expanding their reach.
Currently, legal organizations offer important and good things to improve the quality of life in the practice of law. They bring many of the things lawyers need, such as CLEs, classes in yoga and meditation, child care, flexible time off, gym memberships, discouraging the drinking of alcohol at firm functions, and the like. Notwithstanding, close to half of all lawyers would choose another profession if they could do it over again. Either we aren’t saying enough or the excellent ideas aren’t reaching their intended audience. The simple truth is this: opening the pathway to bring helpful information to a larger audience of lawyers cannot be other than good for everyone.
The Lawyer Wellness Library is simply using twenty-first-century technology to facilitate the delivery of the good works of others to a needy audience that isn’t presently being reached. By expanding the circle of those valuable ideas, we can start to touch the lives of troubled lawyers in ways that were not previously possible. We know the ideas are great, so let’s open the gate.
The need is huge. The current state of malaise is not good for lawyers and the ones who love and depend upon them, or for clients and the ones who love and depend upon them, or for our judicial system and the public it serves. And it’s certainly not good for law schools, which are sometimes unfairly blamed for taking time and money from unsuspecting students who have no idea where they are headed.
Albert Einstein said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Current legal organizations exist primarily to help lawyers become good at their craft but are understaffed and underfunded. Most importantly, no existing organization is reasonably able to carry helpful, wellness strategies to all lawyers because – as this Library can attest – (1) finding and collecting the helpful information that countless smart people are creating across this country is a full-time job, and (2) developing and maintaining an engaging, convenient, and useful website for lawyers to use, free of charge, is far more expensive than any current organization (anywhere) can handle.
This Library has a Mission that is unlike all other Stakeholders – indeed, the Library’s Mission is to support the Missions of all of them. By adopting an unusual nonprofit revenue model, this nonprofit will not seek donations (except to get started). Rather, once this Library is operational, all existing Stakeholders will benefit by supporting all other Stakeholders and, in the process, the flow of healing energy will be released so that practicing law becomes a more satisfying undertaking. How can it be otherwise if we open the bottleneck of helpful information and allow it to flow freely?
When it comes to funding, nonprofit Stakeholders get a free ride while for-profit Stakeholders get a good deal. It becomes a painless, mutualistic solution to a huge social problem, namely a legal system that is making its workers sick. The legal profession itself needs nourishment and some fresh air, just as we give other ailing organisms in our world.
The Lawyer Wellness Library is just one, new, simple additional approach – an approach that benefits every Stakeholder who cares about the happiness and resilience of lawyers in this country. It is sure to succeed because it simply draws upon the best of what is available to help struggling lawyers by making sure they receive it and get the same chance as every other lawyer to incorporate the full breadth of wellness strategies into their lives as they wish.
- The truth is that the leaders of law firms and bar associations and state LAPs have lots of good answers for unhappy lawyers, but what works for one lawyer may not work for the one down the hall – nor is there any proof that many lawyers are receiving it. This is a complicated society full of choices that twist and turn. Trouble has a way of finding victims where they least expect it and the practice of law is a profession full of troubles. Bringing a full range of resources to lawyers and allowing them the freedom to choose the best course for their unique situation is what lawyers do.
- The Lawyer Wellness Library will merely draw from the information that experts in the fields of law, psychology, sociology, philosophy, economics, theology, and like disciplines have found to be helpful to lawyers who are hardest hit by a profession full of unrelenting stress and anxiety. One size doesn’t fit all, but what helps some lawyers is often helpful to others, even when there’s no single cure. Lawyers are often inspired by the success stories of other, similarly situated lawyers.
- When practicing their craft, lawyers like to gather the relevant information and then trust their experience and trained intuition to find what has the ring of truth for their life circumstances. We are people who practice a profession in common, but we lead separate lives, with different life histories, different traumas to overcome, different family dynamics, different hopes and dreams. What lies inside each of us is personal and private and there is little spare time to search for our own answers, if we even knew what to search for. The Library is meant to bring the basic information of that interior search to each lawyer’s fingertips, giving them an easily accessible collection of wellness strategies that relate to this difficult and challenging profession.
- Like a law library, this Wellness Library will have stacks of resources arranged by topic, and the lawyer can visit each stack to see an assortment of articles, videos, and podcasts. There will also be a fun, virtual Coffee House, with Book Reviews, a Poet’s Corner, a “Kindness” Board, and lighthearted Lawyer Jokes. Every lawyer who receives a Library Card (for free) will get a personal, private, and secure dashboard, which allows them to save materials of interest for later viewing or listening. The Stacks will provide resources according to the following topics, with new ones added to meet the needs and interests of a dynamic profession: Addictions, Mental Health and Suicide, Mentoring, Disciplinary Traps, Diversity and Inclusion, Self-Discovery and Improvement, Law Schools and Students, and Body, Mind & Spirit.
- New lawyers and burned-out lawyers will find practical help, like on starting or shifting to a solo practice, on why and how to find malpractice insurance, on learning how to enjoy a job that seems unenjoyable, on finding a career that makes use of a JD besides actually practicing law, on adding new meaning to a life that seems doomed to unhappiness, and on how to nurture inner satisfaction in a job that seems impossibly against it.
- Because this Library is supplemental to, and not competitive with, existing organizations, the Library will not offer CLEs, any Listservs, or forums to promote itself. It will, whenever possible, promote and feature the entities that produce the content that the Library makes available to lawyers. Every organization or outlet that holds the original content will retain that content; the Library will link to that material on the entity’s site, thereby bringing new visitors, who can stay and learn more about that organization, perhaps becoming members. From the Library’s perspective, the entities that create the content become the village that gives comfort to the casualties of our legal profession.
- The Wellness Library will share the myriad of wellness strategies that have proven successful to other lawyers in the past. This Library knows there are a lot of ways to float a boat, and all paths to harmony and peace deserve a place in the stacks of this informational platform. No lawyer should be forced to pursue a path that holds no promise of change for the better, nor should they be restricted to what their employers have found helpful. Mindfulness and compassion may be the ticket for one person, but not another. Cognitive therapy and a 12-step program may work for one, changing jobs for another. Some lawyers may find the Library silly; others may find it a saving grace. The Librarian will curate the Library’s shelves with a broad range of possible solutions, so as to appeal to the widest profile of personalities.
- All Stakeholders benefit. Legal malpractice carriers benefit from the improved emotional health of their insureds. Law schools can meet their goals to support the post-JD wellness needs of their alumni. Law firms can ensure that their firm’s lawyers find the help they need without dealing with stigma. LAPs and bar associations can expand the reach of their important information to substantial numbers of people. Lawyers in marginalized groups can find like-minded commentary that gives them a sense of community and safety. All of this goodness is made possible by tapping into the value of promotional advertising by vendors who gain much from the work that lawyers do.
- Bottom line, no one can be against this way of expanding the reach of wellness information. Aldous Huxley said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” Lawyers will promote their own wellbeing when they take the time to do so and do it in their own way. The Library will also use its extra revenue to contribute to nonprofits that offer personalized help to lawyers. After all, if the Library succeeds in persuading lawyers to reach out for help, the organizations that provide that help will need extra funding to handle the increased demand. This Library plans to be there for them.
- The Library’s Mission says it all: “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.”
The Lawyer Wellness Library will profit every Stakeholder that chooses to join the effort. Law schools and other nonprofit organizations will pay nothing, insurers and employers will pay very little, and for-profit vendors will get a lot of advertising bang for their buck, with dynamic, pointed messages. It is based on a model of mutualism where everyone gets more than they give.