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California Lawyers Association and DC Bar Announce Further Findings from Groundbreaking Study on Mental Health and Wellness of Lawyers

Culture of valuing professionalism, skills and humanity linked to better health, less stress

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The California Lawyers Association (CLA) and the District of Columbia Bar (DC Bar) today shared additional findings from a groundbreaking research project providing insight into personal and professional risk factors for mental health, substance use and attrition among practicing lawyers. In 2020, both bars announced their participation in the project, which has now produced the second in a series of published articles. Titled “People, Professionals, and Profit Centers: The Link Between Lawyer Well-Being and Employer Values,” the findings have been released. June 3 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Behavioral sciences.

The latest research has examined the relationship between what lawyers think their employers value most about them and the mental and physical health of those lawyers. It revealed that lawyers who felt most appreciated for their professional talent/skills or overall human worth had the best mental and physical health. Lawyers who felt most valued for their billable hours, productivity, and responsiveness lagged far behind in terms of mental and physical health. Lawyers who do not feel valued by their employers or who have not received enough feedback to know what their employers value about them are the worst off in terms of mental and physical health. Additionally, lawyers who felt most valued for their professional talent/skills or overall human value were significantly less likely to report that they were considering leaving the profession.

Key findings from the study, as shown in this infographic:

  • 62.4% of lawyers said they felt valued for their personal or professional qualities. This group also had the best mental and physical health.
  • 27.5% of lawyers said they felt valued for attributes such as productivity and responsiveness. This group had poorer mental and physical health than those who felt the most valued for their personal or professional qualities.
  • The group with the worst mental and physical health were the 10.1% of lawyers who felt their employers didn’t like them or didn’t get enough feedback.
  • Lawyers who work in environments that value professionalism, skill, and humanity over productivity and availability were not only healthier, but also experienced lower stress levels and were less likely to say their time in the profession had taken a toll on their mental health.
  • Lawyers working in large firms were less likely to feel appreciated for their professional or personal value and more likely to be appreciated for their financial and productivity contributions.

Key takeaways for legal employers:

  • Employers who can make their lawyers feel more valued for their skills or humanity may be able to improve lawyer well-being, reduce health care costs, and mitigate unwanted turnover.
  • Providing clear and regular feedback can reduce stress and improve mental health.
  • By targeting and seeking to improve maladaptive behaviors in their workplace, employers may be able to improve the stress levels and mental health of their lawyers.

The research project was led by a lawyer specializing in mental health and well-being Patrick Krillfrom Krill Strategies, and Justin J. Anker of the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Minnesota.

The research raises important questions about whether a shift towards a profit- and business-centric approach to law is sustainable for the health and well-being of lawyers and legal professionals.

“This new and actionable research invites a stimulating but essential conversation for lawyers. We need to step back and ask ourselves if we value the good things in our profession and, if so, if we are effectively communicating those values ​​to our colleagues,” Krill says.

Oyango A. Snell, CEO and Executive Director of the California Lawyers Association, and CEO of the Law Society of the District of Columbia Robert Spagnoletti thanked the researchers for continuing to glean new ideas through their collaboration on the project.

“This definitive new research sheds light on the important role that professional culture plays in the well-being of lawyers and gives us a roadmap to help tackle one of the root causes of burnout and stress in the workplace. the legal profession,” Snell said.

“Once again, Patrick Krill and Justin Anker held a mirror of the legal profession, showcasing important data about the impact of an attorney’s work environment and perceived value,” Spagnoletti said. “Knowing and understanding this information will allow the DC Bar to better provide meaningful services to its members and these organizations. who employ lawyers.

The project previously produced an article entitled “Stress, Drink, Leave: An Examination of Gender-Specific Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems and Attrition Among Licensed Attorneys”, published in May 2021 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE. Research has found that mental health issues and hazardous alcohol use are extremely high among currently employed lawyers. Additionally, female lawyers experience more mental distress, higher levels of overcommitment and work-family conflict, and poorer prospects for promotion than their male counterparts.

Another research paper is forthcoming exploring predictors of lawyer suicide, Krill said.

About the California Bar Association:
Established in 2018, the CLA is the bar association for all attorneys in California. CLA’s mission is to promote excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession as well as fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law.

About the Bar of the District of Columbia:
Since 1972, the Bar of the District of Columbia (DC Bar) has been improving access to justice, improving the legal system, and empowering lawyers to achieve excellence. It is the largest unified bar in United States, with more than 113,000 members in all 50 states and more than 80 countries and territories. To learn more about how the DC Bar serves its members and the legal community at large, visit

SOURCE California Bar Association