Sustaining Well-Being in Public Defense. (1-3 hours).
Sustaining and Supporting the well-being of public defenders enables us to provide the high quality representation that our clients deserve, and increase access to justice. This class examines the challenges and obstacles to sustaining and supporting well-being and offers tools and strategies at the individual, office and system levels. A version of this workshop has been presented at public defender training programs throughout California, as well as at: Gideon’s Promise in Atlanta, GA; Harvard Law School Celebration 65; and in public defender training programs in Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky and Montana.
Well Being as Competency and Access to Justice (1 hour)
Maintaining our well-being is foundational to being able to do public defense work, and is an indispensable part of our ethical duty of competence. Using the ABA’s broad definition of well-being across the six dimensions (emotional, intellectual, occupational, physical, spiritual and social), we will discuss the connection between wellness and high performance. We will review studies of public defenders and the secondary traumatic impact of public defense work, including struggles with mental health and substance use. Concrete strategies will be offered to support well being at the individual, office and system levels. Working within a public defense culture and community that supports well-being is foundational to providing access to justice through strong representation.
Mindfulness Practices for Reducing Stress Response in Public Defense (1 hour)
This interactive workshop gives an overview of the body’s stress response and relaxation response, and offers a sampling of mindfulness and meditation practices. Specific instruction is offered in using breathing techniques that can be used to reduce stress response—like right before a closing argument or challenging sentencing hearing.
How to Build a Culture of Wellness: A Workshop for Public Defender Leaders and Managers (1-2 hours)
This workshop reviews research and recommendations for workplace culture that promotes wellbeing and strives to avoid unintentionally contributing to moral injury. We will discuss examples and models within PD offices that offer programs like Sabbatical, structured mentorship, and reliable coverage for people to take vacation and leave. We also talk about how to minimize expectations of 24/7 availability and support healthy boundaries.
Support Well Being in Training, Supervising, Mentorship and Coaching (1 hour)
This workshop draws from experiences of incorporating awareness and support for well being designing training, coaching and mentoring programs in a wide variety of public defense settings (different sized offices, individual coaching and mentoring, national programs).
The times are generally flexible, longer times allow for more discussion and interactive exercises.
Some PAST PRESENTATIONS and INTERVIEWS
Those Who Love the Fight l Episode 12: Sherr & Andrews, Moral Matters, 3/18/21. (48 min) “In this episode, Jenny Andrews, a public defender in Santa Barbara, CA, and Jeff Sherr, the Training Director for the National Association for Public Defense talk about why the language of moral injury matters for public defenders. Systemic obstacles preventing “gold standard” representation is a familiar frustration. Burdened by excessive caseloads, endless hours of work, and with their client’s freedom on the line, many public defenders are struggling to stay in the profession. Why? Just like healthcare workers, public defenders are experiencing moral injury.”
Beyond Burnout: Recruiting, Retention and Overworking, NAPD, March 2022.
Put Your Body on the Gears: Well Being as Competence and Access to Justice, California Public Defenders Association, 8/21/20, Gideon’s Promise, 1/2021
Dynamic Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Response in Public Defense. National Association for Public Defense Women’s Conference, 8/15/20. Gideon’s Promise, January 2020. Montana State Public Defender, 10/10/19.
How to Support Public Defender Well-Being in Capital Defense, CPDA/CACJ Capital Case Defense Seminar, 2/14/20
How Public Defense Leaders can Support Well Being and Reduce Moral Injury. Gideon’s Promise Leadership Institute, Atlanta, GA (January 2020).
Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubt. Gideon’s Promise, Atlanta, GA, January 2020.
Working Efficiently and Setting Time Boundaries to Support Well Being in Public Defense, Montana State Public Defender, 10/10/19.
Gratitude Practices to Support Well Being in Public Defense, Montana State Public Defender, 10/10/19.
How to Sustain Well Being in Public Defense, presented at Santa Barbara Public Defender, Contra Costa Public Defender, Los Angeles Public Defender, Orleans Public Defender (New Orleans, LA), Georgia Public Defense Council, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, Montana State Public Defender.