Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

ABA Toolkit Provides Blueprint for Wellness Program

Well-being is a smart business proposition that will bring many benefits: a healthier, happier law firm, a roster of satisfied clients, and a blossoming bottom line.

But getting there won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

Fortunately, there’s a free roadmap to guide you. The ABA Well-Being Toolkit is a 99-page how-to guide to help lawyers and firms improve their personal and professional wellness.

“Well-being is a team sport,” says the introduction to the Toolkit.Many legal employers already have started well-being initiatives and are looking for more guidance on where to go next. Others are unsure how to begin. This Toolkit offers reasons for prioritizing lawyer well-being as well as information, strategies, and resources for implementing a plan for positive change.”

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How to Use the ABA Well-Being Toolkit

The Toolkit contains information and resources to get started on the path to well-being. Included are the following sections:

  • 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 and Practice Audit to evaluate what supports and harms well-being.
  • Recommendations for activities and events and for education and development to include as part of your Action Plan.
  • Ideas for assessments to track progress on wellbeing goals.
  • Online resources and 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.


Strategies and Resources

Here are some of the steps and strategies in the Toolkit:

  • Enlist leaders. No organizational change effort will succeed without leader commitment, support, and role modeling of desired behaviors. Communicating the business case for well-being can help build leader buy-in.
  • Launch a well-being committee. As a first step, recruit a champion or launch a committee to lead your well-being agenda. The committee should include a high-level leader who has the credibility and influence to make things happen. Your organization’s Employee Assistance Program, health insurance carrier, and/or a local Lawyer Assistance Program may be interested in participating and contributing resources.
  • Conduct a needs assessment. Any organizational change effort is more likely to succeed if it grows out of an analysis of the gap between the desired and current state. A number of needs assessment templates created for other contexts are available on the Internet and can be adapted for legal employer well-being programs. The assessment might include stakeholder interviews or surveys to understand challenges to well-being that dominate in your organization. The assessment also should include an audit of policies and practices that influence lawyers’ wellbeing. The Policies & Practices Audit section provides recommendations and online resources to guide an audit. The list includes topics that are not routinely encompassed in discussions of well-being, such as on-boarding, diversity, work-life conflict, 24/7-availability expectations, billing practices, performance appraisals, compensation systems, and fairness.
  • Identify priorities. The best way to get started on well-being initiatives is to set a narrow set of priorities and to accumulate quick “small wins” that can build credibility and momentum.
  • Create and execute an Action Plan. This phase should include a discussion of concrete goals, obstacles to achieving them, and pathways for overcoming obstacles. This phase also should consider how the well-being program will be sustained over the long-term.
  • Create a well-being policy. Ideally, legal employers will invite broad review and comment on a draft of the policy. Employers should incorporate impairment provisions into their policies but also will want to convey that the initiative broadly seeks to advance well-being and is not focused solely on detecting and treating mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Continually measure, evaluate and improve. Possible measures include: satisfaction with and attitudes toward well-being programs; extent of learning new information and skills; behavioral change growing out of the programs; measures of lawyer well-being and organizational success.


Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations ( Contact or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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