Who finds the business serviced by a law firm? Lawyers. Who minds the business serviced by a law firm? Lawyers. Who grinds the business serviced by a law firm? Lawyers. Notice the trend?

And lawyers who are not well, are not nearly as effective as lawyers who are well– if your own common sense doesn’t lead you to that obvious conclusion, you might want to refer to the Report generated by the National Task Force for Lawyer Well-Being (“NTF”). The Report (which is available, online) is really quite good– it’s well organized, and very thorough.

So what, exactly, is well-being? As defined by the NTF, it’s several things, but first and foremost, well-being is continuous. One can be well for a day, or a week, or a month– even for a year, or more. Then, because of external events or other personal changes, one can suddenly not be well. That’s something we’ve all experienced.

Aside from first addressing the continuous nature of well-being, the NTF goes on to identify six different aspects of life experience that can bear upon one’s sense of well-being: Occupational, Intellectual, Social, Spiritual, Physical and Emotional. Thriving– or struggling– in any one or more of those areas, will obviously impact one’s sense of well-being. The notion of well-being is not a vague, opaque or mystical calculation.

So, why do so many law firm leaders fail to zealously protect and prioritize their lawyers’ well-being? Since I no longer count myself among their number, that’s not a question for me to answer. As the former member of a law firm Management Committee and practicing attorney for almost 40 years, however, I am qualified to ask the question. And ask, I will.

Granted, the COVID pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop, and the introduction of a new budget line item for a Director of Well-Being or start-up of a well-being program, at a time when there is so much uncertainty about future revenue, will make the decision to address well-being difficult, but it’s not impossible. And the prioritization of well-being is precisely what leaders of the legal profession need to be focused on– right now.

It’s time for law firm leaders to recognize– and take care of– their number one asset!

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