CENTER CITY, Minn., Aug. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Calling it a "groundbreaking and lifesaving report," the head of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's legal professionals program applauded today's release of a comprehensive set of recommendations from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
"These important recommendations address the longstanding and often hidden behavioral health issues in the legal profession, and will help many lawyers get the support and health care they sorely need," said Kevin Chandler, an attorney and clinician who heads up the legal professional program at the national nonprofit addiction treatment provider.
"We are grateful the landmark study we conducted with the American Bar Association was able to spark the dialogue that led to these important recommendations," continued Chandler, who noted that the 2016 survey of nearly 13,000 practicing lawyers in the U.S. revealed substantial and widespread levels of problem drinking and other behavioral health problems.
"Every day I work with legal professionals who have suffered in silence for years because the culture of the legal profession made discussion of substance use disorders taboo," said Chandler. "The study was a much-needed jolt to a profession that had been reticent to change."
Conceptualized and initiated by the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being is a collection of entities that was created in August 2016. Its report today – The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change – includes recommendations for reducing the level of "toxicity" in the legal profession; eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking; emphasizing well-being as a competence for all lawyers; educating legal professionals on well-being issues; and instilling greater well-being through changes in how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated.
Among the 40 recommendations in the report are:
- De-emphasize alcohol at social events
- Require law schools to create Well-Being Education for students as an accreditation requirement
- Use monitoring to support recovery from substance use disorders
- Begin a dialogue about suicide prevention
- Create best practices for detecting and assisting law students experiencing psychological distress.
- Appropriately organize and fund lawyers assistance programs
- Develop policies for impaired judges
- Support a Lawyer Well-Being Index to measure the profession's progress
"The great Justice Louis Brandeis once said that sunlight is perhaps the best disinfectant," Chandler said. "Our study helped bring the legal profession's deadliest secrets out of the shadows and into the bright sunlight, and today's groundbreaking and lifesaving report now answers the call with solutions. We applaud the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and support full and aggressive implementation of its recommendations."
"The legal profession impacts our society in a number of important ways, so improving lawyer well-being – and improving education and awareness within the profession – has the power over time to also positively impact our nation's criminal justice and policymaking institutions," added Nick Motu, Vice President of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy. "It's gratifying to see the ripple effect of strategic advocacy, with our study leading to an action-oriented report like this that could influence the legal profession, and all of society, for generations."
About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is the nation's leading nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 17 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care to help youth and adults reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Learn more at HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter@hazldnbettyford.
SOURCE Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation