Standing Committee on Well-being in the Profession
At its September 2022 meeting, the Board of Governors passed a resolution creating a new Standing Committee on Well-being in the Profession to build upon efforts to increase awareness, improve education and policies, and reduce stigma related to lawyer substance use and mental health. The standing committee supports projects toward these goals, including:
- Well-being awareness initiatives (such as Well-being Week In Law and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month)
- Law student well-being outreach
- Well-being Toolkit for law firm and legal employers
- Behavioral First-Aid Training (including QPR)
- Conducting a statewide well-being survey of the legal profession
- Creating a Well-being Speakers’ Bureau
The Lawyers Living Well Special Committee was formed in February 2021 under the direction of then-President John R. Gunn to study and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on the matters of well-being within the state’s legal community. The special committee was composed of 40 members, drawn from the bench and the bar and providing a representative cross-section of many different stakeholder groups. The special committee was also directed to make recommendations to the Board of Governors on projects, programs, and other efforts to address those issues and factors and improve or promote the overall well-being of members of The Missouri Bar. As recommended in the special committee’s report, at its September 2022 meeting, the Board of Governors passed a resolution establishing the Standing Committee on Well-being in the Profession as a more permanent successor to carry on the duties of this special committee.
The special committee engaged in a wealth of activities over its 18 months of service, including submission of a formal report and recommendations (Lawyers Living Well Special Committee - 2022) to the Board of Governors at its May 2022 meeting.
Other key activities included the following:
- Development and implementation of a pilot Life Skills class for credit at the University of Missouri School of Law, with committee members serving as adjunct teachers;
- Multiple programs or activities sponsored by The Missouri Bar during Well-being Week in the Law and Suicide Prevention Awareness month to increase awareness and engagement;
- QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) training for lawyers, judges, law students, and Missouri Bar staff on how to recognize and refer those who may be in crisis to appropriate resources (nearly 200 trained through 2022);
- Development and delivery in partnership with MoBarCLE of four hours of well-being CLE programs provided at no additional charge to members, including “The importance of sleep to our overall health” in May 2022, with more than 870 attendees, and “Lawyer suicides: reducing the risk by recognizing the signs” in September 2022, with 164 attendees;
- Efforts to increase awareness of and implementation of The Missouri Bar’s model policies for legal employers to address lawyer impairment and preparation of a toolkit of resources to help facilitate the same; and
- Development of a speakers’ bureau on lawyer well-being topics.