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With No Plan, Nothing Can Go Wrong

Far too many institutions in the legal profession-- law firms foremost among them-- have no genuine plan for the design or implementation of well-being programming. And that's a shame.

Let me be blunt: One-off events that are reflective of a longer term head-in-the-sand approach, simply don't cut it when it comes to workplace well-being. Even the most interested attendees go back to their respective offices or workspaces, and immediately return to doing whatever it is they were doing beforehand, the same way they were doing it-- the very things from which they may have sought relief by attending the well-being initiative, in the first place! The cycle of stress/relief/stress in seemingly unending.

The well-being Pledge that firms and other legal institutions are being asked to sign by the National Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being is certainly a positive first step but the pursuit of well-being-- actually doing something about it-- is where the rubber really hits the road. That's what the Commitment Form that signatories are also asked to sign, is all about. It ultimately comes down to common sense: "Action speaks louder than words".

How best to do that? The appointment of well-being Directors, or Chief Officers, is critical to the process but there is only so much they can be reasonably asked to do. Internally, the institutions of our legal profession need competent individuals who can fight the political and financial fights that need to be fought. They need individuals who are committed to building a culture of well-being, and that's a tall order-- that's where the Commitment Form can be helpful.

Paragraph 3 of the Commitment Form contains an affirmative representation that, "We have developed visible partnerships with outside organizations committed to reducing problematic substance use disorders and mental health distress in the profession". Shameless self-promotion compels me to mention The Mindful Law Coaching & Consulting Group ("MLCCG")-- we are precisely what Paragraph 3 of the Commitment Form references and requires.

The architect of so much that is good in the City of Chicago, Charles Burnham, is credited with having said: "Make no small plans". That remains an inspiration not only for city planners, but also, the leaders of the legal profession.

It's high time we started planning and doing-- that's the only way we'll get well-being right!


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