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Task force submits final report to Colorado Supreme Court on pilot project for Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers

Thursday, September 30, 2021

DENVER –  A task force commissioned by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2018 to research and evaluate lawyer well-being and organizational culture has submitted its final report to the Court and plans are now underway to implement the pilot project recommendations.

The Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers Pilot Project report details how and why Colorado can be a national leader in lawyer well-being by creating a first-of-its-kind program to support, and recognize, by the Colorado Supreme Court, legal employers for implementing well-being strategies and recommendations within their organizations.

“The time for systemic solutions to well-being risk factors in legal organizations is now,” said Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica M. Márquez. “The needed rebirth of well-being, at a critical juncture within a global pandemic, is more important than ever. The Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers Pilot Project provides a practical and effective method to support legal employers seeking to implement and improve well-being strategies and initiatives within their organizations.”

Consisting of nearly 60 lawyers, judges, law school deans, law students, and mental health professionals the task force took on the mission of improving lawyer well-being in Colorado, and generated concrete steps to promote well-being and shifting culture among the more than 40,000 registered Colorado lawyers.

In July 2020, the pilot project, through a cohort of 27 legal employers including large law firms, government law offices, in-house legal departments, non-profit legal service providers, and solo practitioners among others, began a year-long pilot project to assess the feasibility of a formal well-being recognition program in Colorado and to generate strategies for legal employers to implement organization-wide well-being recommendations. The pilot project was managed by the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP), an advisory board consisting of representatives from the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program (COLAP), the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC), and the Colorado Supreme Court Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.

"The pilot project provides a clear roadmap for promotion, facilitation, and evaluation of a well-being recognition program that can be straightforwardly applied to a future statewide effort,” said Ryann Peyton, Executive Director of CAMP and project lead. “It is exciting to imagine how we can build on this foundational scaffolding to deliver transformative well-being support to legal employers."

Peyton added, the report demonstrates a need for ongoing, systemic well-being support for legal employers, in addition to the need for broader collaboration and partnership in well-being efforts among a wide range of stakeholders. The data collected from the pilot project indicate that a recognition program would not only be well received by the Colorado legal community, but also has the potential to create meaningful well-being change within Colorado’s legal organizations.

Participants in the pilot project include Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Holland & Hart LLP, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C., Childs McCune, The Harris Law Firm, Michael Best, Lambdin & Chaney, Bradford LTD, Johnson Kush, Symons & Ratner and Bryant & Ritsick, Waltz Reeves, James Garts, Laurie Schmidt, Erika Holmes, Lauren Lester, Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, Colorado Office of the Public Defender (Glenwood Springs office), Colorado Department of Law, Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, Colorado Legal Services, Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice, Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center, DaVita, and Air Methods.

The proposed recommended program includes the combination of (a) an annual Pledge to Well-Being for legal employers, (b) a facilitated peer-to-peer/group mentoring experience offering idea crowdsourcing to make organizational well-being work meaningful and relevant, and (c) recognition by the Colorado Supreme Court of the annual well-being commitments and achievements of Colorado legal employers. The core function of the recommended program is to provide Colorado legal employers with access to education, resources, support, and technical assistance to improve well-being in their organizations. The program also creates a Legal Well-Being Leadership Network to encourage dialogue, innovation, and accountability in implementing well-being practices in legal workplaces.

A formal implementation committee will convene this fall to establish the specific components of a future statewide well-being recognition program for legal employers. The implementation committee will be tasked with (a) design of specific program components, (b) definition of the form of “recognition” to be provided to program participants, (c) creation of key performance indicators, and (d) assessment of budgetary needs based on program components, management responsibility, and housing.

For the full Well-Being Recognition Program for Legal Employers Pilot Project report click here.

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