Heidi experienced her first migraine and drank a lot while in law school. She also had her first panic attack the morning before she sat for the bar. Sound familiar? This week on the Path to Well-Being in Law podcast, Bree and Chris continue their mission to highlight people doing important work in the space of lawyer well-being by welcoming Heidi Alexander. As the first Director of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism, and Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Practice Management Program, Heidi can make a better case than anyone for why management of a successful practice is directly tied to the wellbeing of the lawyers running that practice.

Transcript: 

CHRIS NEWBOLD:

Hello and welcome to episode seven of the National Taskforce on Lawyer Well-Being podcast series, The Path to Well-Being in Law. I’m your co-host Chris Newbold, Executive Vice President of ALPS Malpractice Insurance. And our goal here is simple, to introduce you to cool people doing awesome work in the space of lawyer well-being, and in the process, build and nurture a national network of well-being advocates intent on creating a culture shift within the legal profession. I’m joined today by my friend and my fellow co-chair of the National Task Force, Bree Buchanan, Bree-

BREE BUCHANAN:

Yeah, hello, everyone.

CHRIS:

And today, we continue our march around the states who are leading the charge, I think in well-being, initiatives, commitment, and success. And as we all know, movements generally are driven by those at the grassroots level, living the day to day trying new ideas. In other words, serving as laboratories of new ideas. And in any movement, we need a few leaders to jump out front and that’s exactly what we have seen out of our friends in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Across the country we’ve seen a swelling of task forces, workgroups, roundtables, and there are lessons to be learned from what’s going on in states like Massachusetts and in their roadmap. And we’re so excited today to welcome Heidi Alexander to the podcast. Heidi is Massachusetts’ first director of Supreme Judicial Court, standing committee on Lawyer Well-Being. And Bree would you be so kind to introduce Heidi to our listeners?

BREE:

Absolutely. And this is such a wonderful bio here Heidi. I just love it and would love to have been you. Heidi was formerly the deputy director of lawyers concern for lawyers in Massachusetts, and lead the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program. She is the author of Evernote as a Law Practice Tool. Past co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW, and founder of the ABA’s Women of Legal Technology Initiative. She’s a native Minnesotan, former collegiate ice hockey goaltender for the Amherst College Women’s Ice Hockey Team, love it. CrossFit coach and power lifter, and most important of all, the mother of three young girls. So Heidi, thanks so much for being here with us today. And listen[crosstalk 00:02:34]

HEIDI S. ALEXANDER:

Thanks for having me.

BREE:

Yeah, yeah. One of the things that we always ask our guests is just a little bit about what drives your passion and really wanting to hear from everyone what has brought you into the well-being movement? What experience in your life is the driver behind your passion for this one?

HEIDI:

Yeah, thank you well, again, thank you again for having me on here. And I love it when someone calls me cool, because my kids certainly don’t think so. And my wife certainly doesn’t think. So I’m in a cool zone here. I appreciate it. I’m happy to talk about what brought me to this movement. I pursued somewhat of an alternative legal career path. I was that that kid who went to law school because I wanted to change the world. Super ambitious, driven. Didn’t really think much about my own well-being other than exercise. I was a competitive athlete in college. But other than that, I wasn’t really that aware. So I went to law school, a little bit older, because I worked and I started off as a clerk for a justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court, which, of course was a fantastic experience.

And then moved back to Boston and worked as a litigation associate doing plaintiffs side employment loss, a lot of discrimination, lots of civil rights work. So it’s kind of where I thought I should be, but I hated litigation. It was not for me, and I left. And I actually got to a point where I thought, hey, maybe I’ll even start an organic farm. I was a little bit lost. Because I had just been so focused on, this is what I want to do. This is where I want to be and all of a sudden when it just wasn’t working out, that was tough. So I ended up by… I actually wrote a business plan to start a farm and then apprenticed on a farm and said, oh, this isn’t for me either. But all that time, I got really involved in the bar associations and ended up pursuing an interest of mine.

Which was more along the lines of the management of the practice, and really focused on marketing and technology. And I started to consult with some firms. And so that’s actually what led me to Lawyers Concern for Lawyers in Massachusetts. Because Lawyers Concerns for Lawyers actually has a program, which is a Law Office Management Assistance Program. So it’s actually part of our state’s lawyer assistance program where their practice advisors that consult with primarily solo and small firms on the business of law. And one of the things I realized when I was in that position, was that the two services, the clinical services, the focus on well-being, and the management of the practice, were intertwined.

There’s such a connection, right? Between the personal and the professional. And so I got much more interested in the well-being work, and then I shifted to this position that I’m currently in working for the court really focused on well-being. But in addition to the commitment that I have, that I’ve always had to working, or doing public service work, I do have some life experiences that have drawn me here to. And so for those listening, that some of this may ring true for you, when I was in law school, I actually got my first migraine with an aura. And it’s a pretty scary experience.

You see a bright light, and it’s almost like you think you’re having a stroke. And so that was pretty scary. I drank a lot in law school to deal with stress. I had my first panic attack before I sat for the Massachusetts and New York Bars. And then had a lot of anxiety when I was in practice. And so it wasn’t really until then, did I really start to focus on my own well-being and kind of what that meant. So I do feel like I come from this, from a lot of different angles and perspectives.

BREE:

Absolutely. I really identified a lot with what some of the things that you were saying. Yeah, yeah. And I remember having a lot of the same difficulties early in law school, and you just sort of persist, and then do the things that you think you’re supposed to do, and you’re told to do and it doesn’t fit, and then you move on to finding something else. And so it sounds like you’ve got a really great balance and full life right now. That’s wonderful.

Heidi S. Alexan…:

I do. I do. Yeah.

CHRIS:

Let’s talk about your state. So the Supreme Judicial Court launches this standing committee on lawyer well-being and I’m just curious on how does that happen? Right? Who were the players? How did things start to form? Obviously, you’re a result of that work. So give us the background on how the well-being committee launched their Massachusetts?

Heidi S. Alexan…:

Yeah. So this was really a collaborative effort, I think, by many of the leaders here and the pioneers in Massachusetts, including leaders in our court, leaders from our state’s lawyer systems program, folks in law firms, public agencies, bar associations, and other organizations. But I think it was really our late Chief Justice, Ralph Gantz, who was responsible for making this a reality. The chief justice who actually just passed away very suddenly, almost maybe a few weeks ago now, he was really dedicated to this work. And he was a huge advocate and proponent of the SJC steering committee. And so the steering committee was the first committee that formed and then transition to a permanent standing committee. And again, I mean, the Chief Justice, he was a leader in so many ways. This wasn’t his only focus. So his death is a huge loss for the entire community here.

CHRIS:

Do you know what drove his personal passion for this issue?

HEIDI:

Yeah, that’s actually an interesting question. And I actually don’t think I could answer that question. I mean, he was the sort of guy that just was a really compassionate person, a really thoughtful person, someone who was always looking out for others, potentially to the detriment of himself. I mean, he was someone who was so driven. And I just can’t imagine the stress that he had been under, especially starting in March with the pandemic. SO I think he comes at it from a number of different ways. Because he was also very, very, very much committed to racial injustices as well. Which I definitely would like to talk about later. There’s such a tie to well-being there. So, yeah, I think he was just a fantastic person all around.

CHRIS:

Yeah, I think I’ve shared with you, Heidi, that in one of my five years working on this, his quote, that I think he shared is one of my favorites in the well-being space. And it basically says, the health of our legal system depends on the health of the legal profession, and the health of the profession depends on the health of our lawyers. I just think that that really encapsulates just what we’re trying to do here and how it’s all intertwined in terms of the well-being and functioning of the legal system, and how dependent it is on us to be thinking about those participants within the system and their particular health to drive the success of the system.

HEIDI:

Yeah, I mean, he really was someone who is very wise and very good with his words.

CHRIS:

Yeah. So what have been some of the obviously, you kind of had a interim committee now you have a standing committee. So what have been some of the outcomes of the process and where do we now find ourselves today?

HEIDI:

Sure, sure. So we had this steering committee, which formed in 2018, and it met from 2018 to 2019, which was led by retired SJC Justice Margot Botsford, who also is another just tremendous leader and inspiration for this work. And so under her lead, they convened a number of subcommittees over the course of the year. And each of those subcommittees represented a different sector. And each wrote a report. And so upon review of the reports, a series of recommendations resulted. And so that steering committee then compiled its formal recommendations, and the reports from each of the subcommittees and into this 150-page report, which was then released in July of 2019. And so they didn’t really want to stop there because the thought was, well, we have this great report, right? With all these recommendations. Now, what do we do?

And so, in the report, one of the recommendations was to create a permanent standing committee. And so that happened in January of 2020. And a bunch of new members were added there. So they weren’t necessarily the people who had worked on the steering committee report, they were new folks. And then in order to help guide implementation of the recommendations, that’s when I was then hired as the one full-time director of the committee in March about a day before the pandemic. So, but with my roots really in the lawyer assistance world, it made for a really easy transition. So that’s sort of where we got to, and then I’m happy to, later on, tell you all the wonderful things we are working on.

CHRIS:

Yeah.

BREE:

Yeah. And so Heidi, I’m just wondering, there was just this really clear and tight regression of the work there in Massachusetts. How did that happen? I mean, I’m thinking about for this podcast, hoping that people can take away the success stories of some of our guests and think about how they can implement in the state. And so what do you see as the key components to getting you to this point? To getting that permanent steering committee? Did you see that to come together to make that [crosstalk 00:14:38] secret sauce?

HEIDI:

Well, I mean, I do think that it was essential to have the Chief Justice and the court behind these efforts. And also in particular now, so we have justice Margot Botsford, who’s the retired justice. She led this steering committee, and now is one of the co-chairs of the standing committee. And so she’s very well known. She has fantastic ideas. So she’s kind of a major player here. And so I think that that’s really helpful. But I also think we have a number of different leaders that we are connected to who have really bought in and are passionate. And so I think it’s really helpful to have people who represent all these different legal sectors. In particular, our committee, so our committee is comprised of people at public agencies.

We have the number two person at the attorney general’s office. We have a dean of or the dean I should say, of Boston University Law School. We’ve got a medical advisor, we have someone from Greater Boston Legal Services. And then we have advisors on our committee, who are regulators and also the executive director of our State’s Lawyer Assistance Program. So I think it’s definitely helpful to have the buy-in of those leaders. And then each of those people then sort of have their own, what we call kitchen cabinets. And so we have our tentacles everywhere. So I think one of the important pieces, and it’s something that we work on is extending our reach, creating this awareness. And the more we can do that, kind of bring on those people and continue to extend the reach, I think that’s really helpful to get that buy-in.

BREE:

Wonderful. Absolutely. And I’m just curious, real quick. One of the key players in some of the states or the state bar associations and did… Do you have them at the table in Massachusetts?

HEIDI:

Yeah, absolutely. So we are a state, we do not have a mandatory bar. So we have, actually, I think we now have 3, I guess 33 bar associations by my last count. And one of them is the Massachusetts Bar Association, which is a huge Bar Association. Represents people from all there all over Massachusetts, and also the Boston Bar Association, which it typically represents a lot of the larger firms. But our other co-chair. So we have Margot Botsford. But we also have Denise Murphy, who is our other co-chair, who is the current president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

BREE:

Wow.[crosstalk 00:18:01]

HEIDI:

So yeah. And her whole focus this year, with the Bar Association is well-being. So our work is so intertwined. And I really think that, for us, the bar associations are extremely important to our efforts, because they help us extend that reach. And there’s a lot of work we can do with them, and help them and support them. And so we’ve actually started, we had our first bar leader meeting about a week ago, and we’re going to have those on a regular basis. And we’re talking about potentially figuring out some sort of mechanism to make sure they get our updates, and talk about ways we can collaborate. So we really want to make sure that we’re supporting them, and we are working very, very closely with them.

CHRIS:

And Heidi, does that extend to the totality of bar associations in your state? The specialty bars? County bars? Obviously, your state bars is a large and effective one. I’m just wondering about the scope of that kind of organizing effort.

HEIDI:

Yes, absolutely. We think that’s really important. Particularly, we’ve been doing a lot of work with our affinity bars, which are the bars that represent our diverse attorneys in Massachusetts. So we are very well connected to them. And then we have a lot of county bars that represent a lot of our lawyers across Massachusetts in different geographical areas, many of them solo and small firms. And a lot of the county bars don’t have staff and they’re volunteers. So they’re volunteers who are doing all the work. So the more support that we can provide to them, I think that the more they can do. So we’re talking about doing bench bar conferences, and mentorship programs, and loan assistance programs, lots of different ways in which we can work with them.

CHRIS:

Excellent. Let’s take us into our first our break. And I do want to remind listeners that one of the things that we’ll do in conjunction with Heidi’s podcast is also post their steering committee report, obviously, 150 pages with the various sector subcommittee reports. And one of our goals in the podcast is to share this information through others who either may be along on a similar journey, or starting their journey, right? And so there should be information that will come along with the podcast for quick reference to their report there. So let’s take a break.

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BREE:

All right. Welcome back, everybody. And we have Heidi Alexander, who is the Director of the Massachusetts Well-Being Committee. And I’m sure that I did not get that name exactly right. But tell us what you guys are working on now. What are some of the really big items?

Heidi S. Alexan…:

Yeah, sure. I’m happy to. And don’t worry about the title. That’s not actually not very important. I mean I think this is where things really become exciting, in my mind, because we have this 150-page report with many, many recommendations to implement. And a lot of the recommendations would really lead to a change in the legal culture. I mean, we have recommendations in there from our large firms subcommittee, that suggests a cap on billable hours.

BREE:

Wow, none of these? Yeah?

HEIDI:

I mean, none of these recommendations are easy, right? They’re there not easy. And then you add the pandemic, and you add long-standing inequalities that we have to address. And it becomes very complicated. And so when I first moved into this position, what we had to do was really take a step back and kind of reprioritize and figure out where could we realistically make progress? And be most effective? And these are the categories that I would say we are prioritizing. One is that of changing and influencing culture. And that is going to be something we will continue to kind of chip away at through these recommendations. Number two is increasing awareness and reducing stigma, which I know lots of people right across the nation are trying to do. Number three, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion, which we know is extremely important for well-being, particularly as a diverse attorney and feeling a sense of belonging in the profession.

And also the ability to adequately represent clients. And we have a big problem here in Massachusetts, where attorneys don’t necessarily look like the people they represent, and the judges making the decision don’t look like the people, the litigants, right? And that causes a lot, a lot of problems. And I’m happy to definitely talk more about that. But the fourth is, in terms of the big picture, is improving life and career satisfaction and reducing burnout. And then the fifth is increasing civility. And we know that, we’ve seen sort of across the nation, there’s decline in instability. And so we think that that is extremely important in terms of increasing well-being. So those are the big picture items, which are being held over our head. Yeah.

CHRIS:

And those pillars, do you then… Have you developed working groups underneath that? what’s your strategy in terms of an execution strategy?

HEIDI:

Yeah. So we have, like I talked about, these kitchen cabinets. Each person on our committee has a kitchen cabinet. And sometimes we use that kitchen cabinet as sort of an advisory group. Sometimes they’re working on something specific. So for example, we have a law school subcommittee. And the law school subcommittee is comprised of faculty, and administrators, and law students from each one of our law schools here in Massachusetts. And what they are working on specifically right now is a toolkit for Massachusetts law schools, a well-being toolkit. And this will be for law students, faculty, and administrators. And some of the issues they’re going to address will be, how do you access mental health services? What sort of programs can you provide? How should faculty be attuned to well-being issues?

And how can they integrate that into every single one of their courses? How do you address cultural competency? So they’re doing a lot. And I think part of what I think is going to be so great about that is, if we can do it the right way, if we can take that toolkit and disseminate it to all these law schools and actually have them implement this, I think it’s going to go a long way in terms of making some real cultural changes in the law schools. Because we do have a lot of folks representing, again, representing all these different law schools.

BREE:

That’s amazing. And I just want to say Heidi how do you get that? we want to be able to post it on the task force’s website and try to [crosstalk 00:27:27]

HEIDI:

Of course yeah.

BREE:

[crosstalk 00:27:30] wonderful. And that’s just one, I’m sure of many projects that you’re working on. Are there any others that you wanted to highlight?

HEIDI:

And I want to say too, that they are using the national task force law school toolkit. Using aspects of that. So that has also been very helpful to them. Yeah, we have a lot of different projects that fit into the big picture categories. And I’ll mention some of them that I think folks might be interested in. Our report talks a lot about the importance of mentorship, and that the impact on well-being. And so we’ve actually launched a bunch of mentorship programs. We just finished a pilot out in the western part of the state. And it was an interesting sort of unique mentorship model where we actually use software, a software program to connect mentors to mentees. And it was almost like a dating app, where the mentees got to sort of look at the bios of their potential mentors, and they got to select they, could say I’m interested in this person, I’m interested in this person.

And they got to meet with multiple mentors. So they kind of got a variety of perspectives. And what we learned from them is that it wasn’t a lot of substantive conversation. It was actually about like, how do you manage practice, how do you manage the caseload? How do you deal with adversaries? It was more issues related to well-being really than the substance of practice. So that’s one of them. We also just launched a pilot loan Assistance Program, because we know that student loans create a huge amount of stress for attorneys. And so we created this program to work with an organization to provide education, coaching and resources. And so we actually have over 200 attorneys signed up for this pilot, which [crosstalk 00:29:57]

BREE:

Wow how amazing.

HEIDI:

And so we’ll see. We will survey them after they finish it and see, did this have an impact on their stress. And we’re also looking at how to create more accessible and affordable health care and benefits. So those are some of them. In terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, like I said, that’s a big focus for us. A couple things that we’re doing is we’re actually changing some rules on SJC rule, to add a requirement to our bar registration process to collect demographic data, demographic data on our attorneys.

We’ve never done this before. We don’t know the makeup of the Massachusetts bar, we have no idea what it looks like. And so this is actually going to be required so that we can have a better understanding of the demographics of our bar and where are we falling short? Right? And then we can do things like what we recently did was held town halls with our affinity bars, again, who represent the diverse attorneys in Massachusetts and hear from them, and hear about their lived experiences, which by the way, were extremely, extremely distressing.

BREE:

I’m sure. Must have been really powerful.

HEIDI:

Yeah, yeah. There were sort of time and again, I mean, we heard over and over about the experiences, particularly in the courts, the treatment of diverse attorneys, people of color who would walk in and be confused with the defendant. Assumed that this person was the defendant, they’d have their bar card scrutinized as they walked through the door. And you can imagine what that does right? To someone’s well-being? Their confidence, right? When that’s happening to them right before they have to get up and argue in court, it takes a toll. So that’s going to be a big part of our work, we’re likely actually going to be hiring a consultant who’s going to help us put together a strategic plan focused on increasing the diversity of our profession and helping us to better support our diverse attorneys.

BREE:

And I wanted to… Follow up. One question on that. What I’ve heard also implicit in all of this, you guys are doing so much. I hear money. I hear funding behind that. So where do you guys get your funding to be able to pay your salary? And hire consultants do all of these things? Which I think for a lot of task forces would be just sort of really dreams.

HEIDI:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I do wish that everyone was in the same situation as we are for sure. I think we are very, very fortunate. So mainly everything is funded through our bar assessments. So the fees that attorneys pay to be licensed here. We have a lot of attorneys in our state. So we have probably somewhere around 70,000 X active attorneys in our state, and they all pay. So basically, essentially, they are paying for this. So that is where it’s coming to and the fact that we have the support of the SJC, again is essential because they’re the ones who make the rules and can say, who gets what.

BREE:

Yeah, just a follow… More follow up on that. In Virginia, they have the legislature imposed a specific dedicated assessment on basically membership dues that can transform the lawyers assistance program there. So do you guys is this just a specific line item on people’s bar dues? Or is it allocated?

HEIDI:

Yeah.

BREE:

Okay.

HEIDI:

Yup. It’s a specific line item. So we actually don’t have to go to the legislature. And the only reason we I think we’d have to legislators to increase the amount of funding but there are enough funds that we collect right now to actually make this possible. So we haven’t had to increase bar dues.

BREE:

Okay. Sorry to get in the weeds there, but that’s when[crosstalk 00:34:48]

HEIDI:

It’s important.[crosstalk 00:34:50]

CHRIS:

Yeah, no, it’s a really important question because it certainly feels like Bree as we’ve teasing out and themes that we’re seeing across states that are being extraordinarily successful in working on this issue. If there’s not fuel to ignite the discussion and some resources available, I mean, we certainly can see instances where having a Heidi on the ground. We can see how one person can make a real significant difference in the both the leadership, and the orchestration of the activities. Right? And so certainly I know, other states are probably listening in on this, and maybe again, as Heidi, you said, maybe not in as fortunate of a position. And so that becomes I think, a major thing for us to be able to guide folks on, which is why having some dedicated resources to this can make such a huge difference.

HEIDI:

Well I also think, and this is something that we’ve been trying to do as well, is to utilize, for example, some of the resources from the large firms, right? We have a bunch of large firms here. There, many of them have really fantastic, well-being programs that they’re running. But are there ways in which we can help harness those resources, and maybe use them, for folks who don’t have those resources? One of the things we’ve put together as we launched this local lawyer well-being network. And it started, was in our recommendations as a priority for the law firms to actually have this network of people who could talk about best practices, and share resources. But there was more interest.

So we kind of opened it up to everyone. And we have people who are now involved who are sole solo practitioners, or small firms, who are in academia, who are in public agencies. And what we’re trying to figure out is, is there some way that we could use the resources of the large firms almost in like this sort of pro bono charitable effort? Right? To help other people. Could maybe this the public agencies or the solo folks utilize some of the well-being resources that these firms have created? And so that’s just something that we’re… it’s just sort of percolating at this moment, but maybe applicable to other folks and kind of thinking about how to access resources.

CHRIS:

Yeah. Heidi, can I ask on the… It sounds like you had these kitchen cabinets, right? That really were formed around sectors that ultimately guided the recommendations within the steering committee report. Sounds like a couple of those sectors, were law schools and law firms. Can you share with us the other sectors that took shape in your state? Because again, a lot of states that do have task forces are kind of thinking about how they structure their work. And it sounds like you have progressed well, based upon the strategy that you’ve employed.

HEIDI:

Yeah, so you’re you’re quizzing me now. Let’s see if I can get them all. Yeah, so initially, for our steering committee, so we had public agencies, which would include district attorneys, they would include our committee for public counsel services, which are really our public defenders. We had our legal services. We had solo and small firms as a group, we had large firms as a group. We had in-house counsel. We also had, let’s see, we already said what we said law school. What am I missing here? We also had individual bar associations. I talked about the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association.

We actually had each of them wrote their own reports, too. So they were players. And I do think that one particular voice or voices that were missing from the steering committee, subcommittees were our affinity bars. So we did not have a report from our women’s bar association, or our mass black lawyers, or our South Asian attorneys. And I think that would have been really helpful. So if people are thinking about that, that’s a perspective I would definitely add. I’m probably missing a group but I just can’t think of it right now.

CHRIS:

No, worries. A couple more questions as we close out the podcast. I’m curious on as we think about well-being, I think one of the things that’s oftentimes hard for us to kind of put our hands around is how we measure success. Right? And I’m just curious as you’re clearly working on five pillars, you’re going to be moving forward multiple initiatives. I’m curious Heidi, on your perspective of, how do you know when we’ve crossed certain thresholds toward either improvement? Or are there waystations out there that you can visualize, that give you the confidence that we are making a difference?

HEIDI:

That is a fantastic question. And it is something that we think about all the time. And I think about it, particularly in my household, because actually, my wife is a physician and researcher, and her focus is on implementation science and evaluation. So we talk about this all the time. What is the most effective way to evaluate? And so what we’re doing right now is we’re hoping to embark on this sort of bigger study of lawyer well-being in Massachusetts to somewhat create a baseline. But I think a lot of these efforts they’re going to have to continue, they’re going to have to adapt and change. And we’re probably never going to get to the point of where we say, oh, we’re done, everyone’s great, everyone’s fantastic, right? They’re going to be different issues that arise.

And so I think in terms of our individual programs that we have, and our pilot programs that we’re running, we’re going to evaluate those specific programs and see how they impact the well-being. Like, when I talked about this Loan Assistance Program. We will do a survey at the end of that, and we and we will try to measure whether the program had any impact, right? On the stress. And so if we can show that in the short term, and then maybe then take that to sort of a broader scale, and then again, evaluate that later on. It may be looking at these things, in sort of little pieces, but also keeping track of keeping our pulse on changes, sort of over the course of a number of years.

Like are we seeing any differences in other changes in terms of substance use? And addiction? What are the different issues that are arising? So, I think we sort of use that, I mean, it’s evaluation in some ways, but in other ways, it’s also to figure out where we have to focus our efforts, right? Collect the data, and then make these data-driven decisions about what programs we’re going to have, and then just keep moving along and keep adapting to the changes. So that’s sort of a long, non answer to your question. Because I don’t think that there’s one… I don’t know exactly what the right way is to do that, but those are some of the ideas we have.

CHRIS:

Good, good. Well, let me ask you to just as a final question. Obviously, a lot of our listeners are at different points of the journey. Lessons learned. What are some of the things that you’ve learned the hard way? Some of the any advice or recommendations that you would make to others out there as they think about igniting change and culture shifts in their respective states?

HEIDI:

Yeah, I mean, like I said, said before, I think it’s really helpful to have the buy-in of as many people and definitely influential people in your state as possible. I do think that initially when I started working on this, I was sort of a deer in headlights thinking about, how do we tackle this major culture shift that we would like to happen? And what I learned was having these big picture goals were good. And I think they help us focus our efforts. But we have to really work on the concrete and tangible actions, where we can also demonstrate milestones like we’ve done this program, it’s done X, Y, and Z. It’s helped people in this way, right? It’s impossible to tackle every issue right away. And so a lot of what we’ve done is prioritize our efforts. And we have looked at attorneys who are really struggling, especially during this time.

So a lot of the solo and small, firm attorneys. While we know that the large law firms need a massive culture change, and there’s a lot of work to be done. Like I said before, there’s a lot of great well-being efforts that are already happening there. And so sometimes you have to step back and say, okay, let them do their thing, let them do their work, where we’re really needed is over here. And I think there’s a lot of things that we can do, I guess for the larger firms, like create these networks, and that sort of thing. But I don’t really feel like there’s a one size fits all model for them. So it’s a little bit more difficult. But I do think kind of focusing in, you’re not going to be able to tackle it all at once. It’s an incremental process.

CHRIS:

Yeah, there’s no doubt that big goals ultimately need to be broken down into small steps. And obviously, the creation of your role is a small success in our bigger picture story of well-being across the country. Heidi, again, I want to thank you for your time, your expertise. Interesting route to getting to where you are today, but as we all know, you are now a mover and shaker in our well-being movement. I would consider you a thought leader, we need folks who are thinking about this on the day to day and let’s be honest, we need more Heidi Alexander’s out there in the field, advancing this at the state level. So I thank you fo your time, your commitment, I’m sure that if others have questions of you, that you’d be willing to feel those questions. And we’ll include Heidi’s contact information associated with the podcast and on the National Task Force website, as well. Bree, any parting remarks?

BREE:

Just Heidi, I’m so impressed with all that you’re doing, and the energy, and the broad perspective that you’re bringing to this and just really in being able to persist and get things done. It’s so impressive. And thank you for all that you’re doing.

HEIDI:

Yeah-[crosstalk 00:48:01]

BREE:

Yeah, thanks again.

HEIDI:

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate this. And I’ve been an avid listener of the podcast so you’ve had some just phenomenal guests on here. I feel like I’m not worthy of this, but I do appreciate and I so appreciate all your work. So thank you.

CHRIS:

[inaudible 00:48:20] And to our listeners we’ll be back in a couple of weeks. We’ll have on the podcast, Martha Knudson, who’s spearheading well-being efforts in the state of Utah, right? So we went through from Virginia to Massachusetts, will pick up with Utah. And again, some really interesting things happening at the state level that we’re excited to share with our listeners. But for now.

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