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Mental Health and Wellness panel to reimagine law practices

Senior Editor Top Stories

Examination will look at the best way to achieve professional and personal goals

mental healthA reimagining of the practice of law in a way that helps lawyers improve their mental health and wellness will be a top priority of the Bar’s Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee in the coming year.

New committee Chair Karl Klein also wants committee members to attend an all-day mental-health first aid program to evaluate if that would be helpful to Bar members.

The committee met virtually June 10 as part of the Bar’s Annual Convention, and members reviewed their past year activities and heard Klein outline his plans for the coming year.

Klein said the committee’s strong list of accomplishments — offering a variety of CLE programs, establishing the mental health and wellness web page on the Bar’s website and setting up a social media presence, setting up the Bar’s mental health helpline, finding health and wellness-related member benefits, and marshalling health and wellness resources for judges — has set a strong foundation for future efforts.

Karl Klein

Karl Klein

“Now we can begin looking at more aspirational goals,” he said. “There’s an initiative that we can look at as a full committee…and that initiative is reimagining the practice of law….

“Reimagining the practice of law to me has about three areas. The first is the physical environment in which we practice law. The second is the professionalism and interaction inside an office between lawyers and what that experience is like. The third area is the personal enrichment that a law firm, a county attorney’s office, a state attorney’s office can help to provide to attorneys to meet their personal and professional goals.”

Klein said he hopes to break the committee into three parts to work on each section. The end result, he said, will be a “paper that’s going to provide resources and information for the Bar and for people in terms of managing firms to see and use as a reference.”

The concept of mental-health first aid has been developing in recent years both nationally and in Florida. Klein said he will establish a subcommittee to set up an all-day CLE that all committee members will be encouraged to attend.

“It’s very difficult for us to encourage our Bar members to do this and go through this program if we ourselves haven’t experienced and done it,” Klein said. “Let’s see how valuable this is and if it’s something that we should recommend to the broader Bar itself.”

On other matters, he said the Member Benefits Subcommittee has corralled its final “unicorn” in finding a statewide fitness service to recommend for inclusion in the Bar’s Member Benefits program as part of an array of health and wellness benefits. He asked members to consider whether the subcommittee should continue or if there is a more streamlined way to funnel potential programs to the Bar’s Member Benefits program.

Klein said the Resources and Education Subcommittee “will focus on CLE and speaker resources for groups that are interested and reaching out to The Florida Bar for assistance.”

He said the Website Subcommittee will be renamed the Communications Subcommittee, since its purview includes not only the website but also social media and other issues, including promoting the helpline. That service proposed by the committee and set up by the Bar last year provides a 24/7 hotline to take calls from lawyers with mental-health issues and offers three free counseling sessions.

“The helpline is one of the most important initiatives this committee has done,” Klein said. “We still have a lot of work to do to promote awareness and make it easy for people to call and access the helpline and get the help they need.”

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