Running a professional practice can be stressful. To be successful, professionals often must work long hours, under tight time constraints, and respond to the needs of demanding clients, while simultaneously working to manage their business and market themselves to new clients. For many professionals, the challenge of working in a professional practice is part of the reward. However, for others, the work can at times be overwhelming. Statistically, an alarming percentage of the legal profession is stressed and, unfortunately, many are depressed.
Earlier this week, the American Bar Association House of Delegates voted to approve changes to the model rules on continuing legal education to require that attorneys complete one hour of substance abuse and mental health education every three years. The ABA’s vote followed a study completed last year by the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which found that attorneys are more likely to suffer from substance abuse and mental health problems than other professions.
Currently, only four states – California, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina – require CLE credits for programs in substance abuse and mental health. While the ABA model rules are only advisory, the change is intended to raise awareness of the issue, with the expectation that more states will incorporate these requirement into their mandatory CLE programs, and provide additional resources to professionals struggling with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues.