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The Disconnect

What's going on with lawyer wellbeing?

The "big guys" have the opportunity to help thousands of professionals and related support staff, but they don't seem to get it. They hire wellbeing directors to signal their support, but many are under-staffed and under-funded. They create prizes and awards to evidence their awareness and empathy, but they don't do anything to meaningfully improve the wellbeing of the men and women who are their charges. Why the disconnect?

Big law firms and many of our bar associations possess the profile, political clout and financial resources to make a real difference in the culture of the legal profession, but they're apparently satisfied paying lip service to a growing concern and continue to whistle past terms of graveyard, as the wellbeing of their constituents continues to be challenged and even decline. Why the disconnect?

They sponsor conferences, workshops and webinars that are organized to address the topic of wellbeing and lend their names to the cause through speakers or spokespersons but offer precious little in terms of substantive assistance. Again, why the disconnect?

Having been a part of the charade and now seeing it for what it truly is, I think I now understand the reason for the disconnect-- human nature, and lack of personal incentive. I'm not a trained social scientist, but experience tells me that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it very likely is a duck-- an unincentivized (and therefore, unmotivated) duck. There's the disconnect.

Decision-makers don't base their decisions on what they believe to be the best interests of an organization. They will certainly justify and explain their decisions (after the fact) by tying them to the best interests of an organization, but in the first instance, decisions are based upon what people feel is best for themselves-- it's personal.

Obviously, the business case for wellbeing is important-- it's integral to the organization's best interests-- but the challenge that has not yet been successfully met, is linking the cause of wellbeing to our decision-makers' own personal interests. That (I would suggest) is the source of disconnect.

The most obvious solution would be the confluence of a personal investment in wellbeing and appointment to a position of influence within an organization. That has yet to occur. At least, not sufficiently to overcome the skepticism or uncertainty of equity stakeholders-- the Senate, if you will, of a given organization.

Failing the advent of such a coincidence, wellbeing advocates should begin focusing on reputational incentive. Who among us doesn't care about our reputation-- personal and professional? The same can be asked about institutional reputation.

Do you think associating yourself with the cause of wellbeing within your law firm or other business organization would positively impact your reputation? Do you believe your conclusion is likely to be true for others? Then do something about it.

The world is driven by incentive. I believe that associating myself with lawyer wellbeing (and doing something about it) reflects positively on my personal reputation.

Please join me by realizing that lawyer wellbeing is a reputational incentive-- an incentive that can benefit us all, both personally and professionally.

Reconnect the disconnect!


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