Resource List and Links

Note: this page is constantly being revised, and I am always adding resources (send your recommendations). Also, the categories are a bit arbitrary and idiosyncratic.

Attorney Well-being

ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession

ABA 2018 Toolkit pic “Well-Being Toolkit For Lawyers and Legal Employers,” ABA August 2018. Some useful things this 99 page Toolkit contains are: An Introduction to why lawyer well-being should be a priority; A definition of Lawyer Well-Being; A definition of a Healthy Workplace; An 8-Step Action Plan for Legal Employers; Guidance for a Policy & Practice Audit to evaluate what supports and harms well-being; Recommendations for Activities & Events and for Education & Development to include as part of your Action Plan; Ideas for Assessments to track progress on wellbeing goals; Online Resources & Technology to help start and develop well-being initiatives; Book Recommendations; A list of Partners, which are organizations that already focus on lawyer well-being and can assist legal employers in their efforts; A list of Speakers and Consultants to contribute to well-being initiatives; An Activity Workbook that contains Worksheets with hands-on activities and checklists for enhancing well-being that can be used individually or collectively as part of organization level initiatives.

ABA 2017 Report WellBe pic

The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. Report from the ABA National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (2017) 73 page report on studies of lawyer and law student chronic stress, depression and substance use, and implications for lawyers’ basic competence. From introduction: “This report’s recommendations focus on five central themes: (1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with help seeking behaviors, (3) emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, (4) educating lawyers, judges, and law students on lawyer well-being issues, and (5) taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.”

The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys, (2016 Ford Foundation study for ABA), Krill, Patrick R. JD, LLM; Johnson, Ryan MA; Albert, Linda MSSW, Journal of Addiction Medicine: January/February 2016 – Volume 10 – Issue 1 – p 46–52. A sample of 12,825 licensed, employed attorneys completed surveys, assessing alcohol use, drug use, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Substantial rates of behavioral health problems were found, with 20.6% screening positive for hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent drinking. Levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among attorneys were significant, with 28%, 19%, and 23% experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively.

Keeping Legal Minds Intact: Mitigating Compassion Fatigue Among Legal Professionals, ( ABA 2014) Within this report, the ABA lists these organizational contributions to compassion fatigue: heavy caseloads and long hours, inefficient administration, excessive paperwork, inadequate resources to meet the demands, and lack of supportive supervision. The suggested research-based suggestions for  mitigating compassion fatigue include: recognize the risks for yourself, find a way to debrief distressing material-especially through connection and community, work on self-awareness every day, evaluate your tension reducing behaviors.

Secondary Traumatic Stress in Attorneys and Their Administrative Support Staff Working With Trauma-Exposed Clients, by Andrew P. Levin, Linda Albert, Avi Besser, Deborah Smith, Alex Zelenski, Stacey Rosenkranz, and Yuval Neria, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Vol. 199, Number 12, Dec. 2011. A study in which the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (PTSD), the Sheehan Disability Scale (functional impairment) and The Professional Quality of Life Scale Version 5, were administered to attorneys, investigators and support staff at the Wisconsin State Public Defender, an agency that at that time had over 250 lawyers/474 total staff in offices at 38 locations. At this link, the 2011 study is included and begins at page 84.

The Toll of Trauma, by Dianne Molvig, Wisconsin Lawyer, December 2011. Very readable 7 page summary of the findings of Linda Albert’s 2011 study of Wisconsin State Public Defenders.

“What Makes Lawyers Happy?: A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success,” by Lawrence S Krieger and Kennon M Sheldon, 83 George Washington Law Review 554 (2015), FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 667, Posted: 22 Feb 2014 Last revised: 13 May 2015.

Burnout–also see Moral Injury (below)

Covid Specific: Well Being During This Pandemic

Do You Have ‘Zoom Fatigue’ or Is It Existentially Crushing to Pretend Life Is Normal as the World Burns? by Devon Price. Medium 9/24/20

Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful. by Tara Haelle.  Medium, 8/17/20.

General Well-Being

Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Adam Grant, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

Tom Rath, Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes


Greater Good Science Center

Online Apps: Happy Tapper

TED talks by: Jennifer Moss, David Steindl-Rast, Louie Schwartzberg, Martin Seligman, Andrew Solomon

Martin E. P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Gratitude Works, by Robert A Emmons.

Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, by Angeles Arrien (2011, 274 pages).

Making Grateful Kids, by Jeffry Froh and Giacomo Bono (2014).

Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Robert A. Emmons (2007).

Mental Health

The ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) provides support to people in the legal profession who are confronting alcoholism, substance use disorders, or mental health issues.

The Dave Nee Foundation works to prevent suicide in the legal profession.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Public Defense Zen FB group

Online subscriptions: Headspace, Calm, Breethe, 10% Happier, Happify, Gaia.

TED talks by: Andy Puddicombe, Zindel Segal, AnneMarie Rossi, Susan Kaiser Greenland, Shauna Shapiro, Sara Lazar

Why Every Lawyer Should Be Practicing Mindfulness,” by Jeena Cho, Above the Law, April 20,2015

Jeena Cho & Karen Gifford: The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Happier, Saner Law Practice Using Meditation

The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, by Rhonda Magee and Jon Kabat-Zinn. (2019)

The Six-Minute Solution: A Mindfulness Primer for Lawyers, by Scott Rogers.

Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, by Pema Chodron. (2019)

Dynamic Mindfulness Instruction of Niroga

Memoirs With Useful Insights for PD Well Being

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle (2011) Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle includes stories from his experience running Homeboy Industries in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. In his preface, he introduces the stories this way: “If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simple to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less that other lives.”

Moral Injury and Burnout

It’s Not Burnout, It’s Moral Injury is the video of Dr. Zubin Damania (who calls himself Dr. Z) explaining why Moral Injury should replace the term burnout for physicians. This 6 minute video is a great overview of the concept of moral injury as it applies to doctors. The concepts are easily applied to public defense. It’s Not Burnout, It’s Moral Injury | Dr. Zubin Damania on Physician “Burnout”

Burnout Is About Your Workplace, Not Your People, by Jennifer Moss, Harvard Business Review, Dec. 11, 2019. While this article doesn’t mention moral injury, it’s all about shifting responsibility for managing and preventing burnout from the individual to the organization. it lists the top 5 reasons for “burnout” as: Unfair treatment at work, Unmanageable workload, Lack of role clarity, Lack of communication and support from their manager, and Unreasonable time pressure.

Substance Use and Addiction

The ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) provides support to people in the legal profession who are confronting alcoholism, substance use disorders, or mental health issues.

The Other Bar: Recovery for lawyers.

Addiction and the Legal Profession

“Addiction in the Legal Profession” addiction-in-the-legal-profession

Addiction in the Legal Profession,” Tim Winter, August 18, 2017 (Evaluating An Individual’s Treatment Needs – Addiction among Lawyers, Judges, Clerks)

Attorneys and Substance Abuse” Justin J. Anker

Combatting Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession, Part One” Thompson Reuters

Drug Addiction in the Legal Profession

Drug and Alcohol Abuse & Addiction in the Legal Profession” (Legal Profession Assistance Conference)

“Investigative Report: Mental Health and Substance Abuse threaten the Legal Profession” Kristin Johnson, March 12, 2018

“Midyear 2018: Panel to examine lawyer substance abuse, mental health – and solutions” (February 1, 2018)

“Substance Abuse: The Nation’s Number One Health Problem;” Institute for Public Health Policy, Brandeis University [Initially published in 1994 and updated 2010]

The Lawyer, the Addict

Truth about Addiction in the Legal Profession” (September 23, 2015 | BY: Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation)

Uncovering Addiction in the Legal Profession

When it Comes to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Support in Legal, What About the Staff”

Stress Response and Relaxation Response

Understanding the stress response, 5/1/18, Harvard Medical School. This article has a very understandable overview of the physiology of stress response and relaxation response. It’s useful to read to understand the effectiveness of mindfulness breathing practices to reduce stress response and activate relaxation response.


Beyond the Cliff, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky TED talk

Body Keeps Score pic The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. This is a comprehensive book by the Medical Director of The Trauma Center in Boston for over 30 years. He includes research and stories from his work with veterans and people who have experienced sexual and physical violence (some of which can be difficult to read). He explains impacts of traumatic stress on pleasure, engagement, control, trust and fundamental brain function. He addresses treatments through neurofeedback, mindfulness, yoga and other therapies.

Compassion Fatigue: Coping With Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder In Those Who Treat The Traumatized (Psychosocial Stress Series) 1st Edition, by Charles R. Figley (1995). Figley edits this compilation of chapters about Compassion Fatigue in crisis and trauma counselors, Red Cross workers, nurses, doctors, and other caregivers who themselves often become victim to secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD) or “compassion fatigue” as a result of helping or wanting to help a traumatized person. It addresses such questions as: What are compassion stress and compassion fatigue? What are the unintended, and often unexpected, deleterious effects of providing help to traumatized people? What are the characteristics of effective programs to prevent or ameliorate compassion stress and its unwanted consequences?

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others, by Laura Dernoot Lipsky.

Representing the Traumatized Client: The Case, the Client and You, by Abby Anna Batko-Taylor and Melissa Shearer. (Oct. 3, 2012)


Online subscriptions: Yogaglo, Gaia, Yogainternational, Stand Up!

Apps: Office yoga, Stand up

TED talks by Nikolai Blinow, Anjali Mehta, Ayman Al-Khatib, Sundar Balasubramanian, Aimee Bohn

Hallie Neuman Love & Nathalie Martin, Yoga For Lawyers: Mind-Body Techniques to Feel Better All The Time