27 April 2021

Crowell & Moring, Latham & Watkins among firms backing new legal well-being organisation

A man leaning over work desk with head in hands

US Institute for Well-Being in Law to tackle issues around mental health, stress and substance use

The US-based National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being has launched a non-profit organisation that is designed to promote well-being in the legal industry and ensure that it is seen as an essential component of personal and professional success.

The Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL) is being backed by five ‘founding champions’, which includes Crowell & Moring, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Latham & Watkins, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Reed Smith. Representatives from each firm will sit on IWIL’s 22-member advisory board. The organisation is calling for ‘systemic change’ in the legal profession to tackle issues around mental health, stress and substance use and addiction.

Bree Buchanan, president of IWIL, said: “The compounding crises of the past year have acted as an accelerant to the behavioural health problems that were already too prevalent in the legal profession. The founders of IWIL believe there is no better time to launch this effort, which is focused on creating a culture change in how the profession prioritises the well-being of its members.”

A poll last year from the Association of Corporate Counsel showed that 75% of responding lawyers were experiencing moderate to exceedingly high levels of burnout, with half also experiencing sleep problems that resulted in chronic fatigue and a quarter admitting to an increased use of substances.

IWIL is also helping to coordinate Well-Being Week in Law, a programme that will run from 3-7 May to raise awareness around mental health and encourage lawyers across the profession to take action to improve their well-being.

Anne Brafford, IWIL vice president and founder and chair of the Well-Being Week, said: “The enthusiastic embrace of Well-Being Week in Law in only its second year provides more evidence of the growth of the well-being movement, which should make us all optimistic that positive change is possible.”

A Global Legal Post survey earlier this year showed that while a majority of respondents believe a permanent shift to home working will improve work life balance, more than a third of respondents worried that it could lead to deterioration in mental health and well-being.

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