Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers will present continuing legal education, law school presentations and other programs upon request. The program may be sponsored by LCL or the hosting organization. Many of our programs qualify for Elimination of Bias credit. We also provide programs for Ethics and Professional Development credit. Contact the Executive Director to discuss or arrange a CLE program. An honorarium may be requested for in-house programs.
CLE PROGRAMS – Here are descriptions of some of our programs. Most can be customized to an audience or substantive area.
Lawyer Well-Being: Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times, 1 hour, Standard credit. In early 2020, the Minnesota legal profession was upended by the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the ensuing weeks and months, the profession experienced seismic changes in the practice of law. This program examines the effects of those changes on lawyers, judges, and law students while providing tips and strategies to navigate the ever-changing legal landscape.
Interrupting Stigma While Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times, 1 hour, Elimination of Bias. In the best of times the legal profession is at risk for high levels of stress and mental health challenges. During challenging times our professional and personal lives may seem out of control and this can affect our work and relationships. This program will identify normal feelings, reactions, and behaviors, and recognize when they are cause for concern. It will examine the role of stigma and bias in preventing us from asking for and accessing help for mental health issues. The program will also identify tools to cope and to thrive while developing and enhancing skills to identify and address individual needs.
The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, 1-2 hours, Standard, Ethics or Elimination of Bias credit. The program can be customized to discuss specific initiatives, stakeholder groups or in other ways. It is available in lecture format with audience participation or as a group presentation.
This groundbreaking and comprehensive report, released in August 2017, was created by a coalition of entities from the American Bar Association and throughout the profession. It contains 44 recommendations for 7 groups of stake holders along with a plan for action.
The coalition found that “We are at a crossroads. To maintain public confidence in the profession, to meet the need for innovation in how we deliver legal services, to increase access to justice, and to reduce the level of toxicity that has allowed mental health and substance use disorders to fester among our colleagues, we have to act now.”
The report’s recommendations focus on five central themes:
- Identifying stakeholders and the role each can play in reducing the level of toxicity in the legal profession.
- Eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors.
- Emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence.
- Educating lawyers, judges and law students on lawyer well-being issues.
- Taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.
LCL dedicates our efforts to disseminate the report on The Path to Lawyer Well-Being to the memory of David Brink, ABA President 1981-82 and past member of the LCL Board of Directors.
Chronic Stress, Trauma, Mental Health and Addiction– 1 – 2 hours, Elimination of Bias
Lawyers face stress daily and are subject to particular circumstances which can lead to higher levels of stress than for most other members of the population. There is a clearly recognized continuum where unresolved chronic stress becomes a predictor for addiction and mental illness, particularly depression, which are also more prevalent among lawyers. By understanding this continuum and the facts about addiction and mental illness, lawyers can reduce their risk and, hopefully, get help earlier when there is a mental health or addiction/dependency problem. Signs, symptoms, risk factors and recovery regarding these problems will be presented. Personal examples and information on Minnesota’s lawyer assistance program will also be provided.
Mental Health and Social Media in the Legal Profession – 1 hour, Ethics Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, lawyers relied heavily on smartphones and related technologies. Since the start of the pandemic, attorney reliance on technology has increased exponentially, becoming a necessary part of the practice of law today. This program explores the concept of over-reliance on, or even addiction to, smartphones and similar devices, along with ethical issues potentially implicated.
The Prevalence of Substance Use and other Mental Health Concerns among American Attorneys – 1 hour, Elimination of Bias or Ethics. This program is based on the February 2016 article of the same name published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The presentation will include the study findings on substance use and mental health issues. Barriers to seeking help and recommendations are offered in a discussion format.
Chronic Stress, Mental Health and Addiction – 1 hour, Standard. Stress among lawyers has particular characteristics which are unique to the profession. In addition to offering an understanding of the continuum where unresolved chronic stress becomes a predictor for addiction and mental illness, which are also more prevalent among lawyers, this program will provide realistic tools, techniques and strategies for effective stress management. Personal examples and information on Minnesota’s lawyer assistance program will also be provided.
When Your Client is Impaired– 1 – 2 hours, Elimination of Bias or Ethics. Lawyers often see clients who appear to be suffering from substance misuse, addiction or other impairments. While it is not our job to diagnose, what is our role, responsibility and opportunity? How do our biases govern our actions and behaviors? What if the issue is not with a client but with a colleague? The answers are seldom simple and never easy. This program will provide an ethical framework as well as practical guidance and resources for lawyers facing these questions.
Stress, Addiction and Mental Health: An Ethical Perspective – 1-2 hours, Ethics. For lawyers, trust account issues, missing deadlines and failing to communicate or complete projects may be the tip of the iceberg for far greater problems ranging from too much stress to addiction and mental health issues. Those same issues and others may be present in clients. When a client is impaired, the lawyer has both obligations and opportunities. When the lawyer is impaired, there are obligations as well but there is also help available. This program looks at professional responsibility aspects of impairment from the client and lawyer perspective.
Mental Health and Addiction Issues in Older Adults – 1 – 2 hours, Elimination of Bias. Our profession and our clients are aging. Learn about mental health (including cognitive impairment) and addiction issues and the realities, risk factors and resources specific to older adults. Understand unique barriers to getting help in older adults, characteristics of older adult mental health, chemical dependency and gambling problems and the difference between dementia, grief and depression. The program will touch on ethical issues that can arise if impairment is present and will offer a protocol to encourage someone to get help.
Problem Gambling and the Legal Profession – 1 – 2 hours, Elimination of Bias. Gambling is normative behavior in most adults. Approximately 3% of gamblers will experience problems. Compulsive, problem or pathological gambling is often called the “hidden illness” because there are few of the outward signs and symptoms that may be present with alcoholism or other dependencies, and the biases that keep someone from seeking help can be greater as well. Colleagues, families and friends of problem gamblers are often shocked when they learn about a problem and how serious it has become. Often this comes up in the context of a legal matter. Lawyers and clients are affected by gambling addiction. Learn about problem gambling, how to recognize the signs and symptoms, what you can do, and what resources, including treatment, are available.
Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue and Self-Care in the Legal Profession – 1 hour, Standard. Lawyers are in the only profession where members regularly deal with traumatized clients but do not talk about the effect that trauma can have on them. This program will discuss types of trauma, the impact of others’ trauma, our risks and what to watch for. Participants will learn self-care techniques that will lessen the impact of our exposure and help us to develop resilience. Information on resources available to all Minnesota lawyers is provided.
Help for Attorneys in Crisis: Dealing with Lawyer Addiction and Impairment – 1 hour, Ethics or Elimination of Bias. This program is designed for colleagues and managers who may observe changes in behavior that give rise to concerns. It discusses how to recognize and obtain help when you, a work colleague, or other professional colleague may have a substance use, mental health or other issue that affects behavior, conduct and performance. Topics include understanding the issues, approaching the lawyer (including interventions), arranging assistance such as treatment, and practice management issues during and following a reduced work schedule or leave of absence. Colleagues can save careers, families and lives.
Suicide Awareness and Prevention– 1 hour, Elimination of Bias. The stress lawyers face is a predictor for depression and untreated depression is the #1 predictor for suicide. Lawyers also must deal with the fact that clients can be suicidal. This program will help you understand the facts and myths about suicide, recognize signs and indicators for clinical depression, anxiety and suicide and provide resources and a protocol for offering and seeking help to prevent suicide.
Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession: Mental Health and Double Stigma – 1 hour, Elimination of Bias. The primary focus of this program is to understand and demonstrate how implicit bias discussions in the legal profession must include mental health (including substance use) and stress issues. This program will begin with a general understanding of the concept of implicit bias and discuss how implicit bias stands in the way of lawyers seeking the help they need for mental health and stress issues. While it’s hard for anyone to ask for help, there is a double stigma for those already in underrepresented groups. This program will address the challenge for lawyers, judges and law students to ask for help for mental health issues, the relationship between mental health issues and diversity and inclusion and a discussion of current challenges and strategies to address them.
Get Your Bounce Back: Using Resiliency to Build Your Fitness to Practice – 1 hour, Standard. This program reviews the lawyer impairment and well-being reports. It explores proven elements of resilience and offers examples and methods for incorporating them into our work as lawyers.
LCL can work with organizations to develop customized programs. In addition to those described above, some recent programs include:
- Addiction and Substance Use topics
- Pain Medications
- Synthetic Drugs
- Addiction and Family Systems
- Sexual Compulsivity
- Minnesota’s New Opioid Legislation
- Mental Health topics
- Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety
- Demystifying ADHD
- Compassion Fatigue
- Returning to Work after Treatment
- Parity Legislation
- Understanding Eating Disorders
- Mental Health Myths
- Wellness and Stress Management topics
- Rising Above your Stress
- Building Resilience
- Thriving in the Practice of Law
- Holiday Stress Management
- Embracing Change
- Mental HEALTH Maintenance in the Legal Workplace
- Your Law Practice Wellness Program
- Understanding Stress in the Legal Profession: Proven Strategies for Mitigation and Management
- 5 Common Causes of Solo Small Firm Crisis and How to Overcome Them
LAW SCHOOL PRESENTATIONS
LCL has developed a class presentation that addresses stress, mental illness and addiction/dependency in the context of the Rules of Professional Responsibility, while providing opportunities for discussion. We can provide a full class session, a shorter program or a public service announcement.
Other Law School Programs
All of LCL’s CLE programs can be adapted to law schools. LCL has also worked with student organizations, professors and law school administration to provide customized programs, particularly in the area of wellness.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS
LCL also welcomes the opportunity to make public service announcements about our services and resources as part of other programs.
LCL has appeared in many programs sponsored by others. Learn whether a program you attended has been approved for credit at Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education.