Just a year after an American Bar Association report on well-being recommended law schools increase their focus on the topic, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law began offering a class for students to learn about the inherent health risks of their profession and what they can do to curb them.
According to Debra Austin, the professor who has developed the class, it will focus equally on two recent research reports: The ABA’s “Path to Lawyer Well-Being” and “Foundations for Practice” from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. The ABA report discussed higher risk in the legal profession than the general population of health hazards such as depression, substance use and suicide and made recommendations for how to mitigate those risks. And according to the IAALS report, interpersonal and communications skills are essential for lawyers, but law schools are not adequately focusing on them.
Among the recommendations from the ABA’s report, Austin said, was to integrate well-being into law school curricula. While she said she has used well-being tips in the other classes she teaches for years, this new course has been developed directly in response to the ABA and IAALS reports.