In recognition of increased wellness concerns related to the global COVID-19 pandemic and high rates of mental health and substance-use disorders in the legal profession, Nichols Kaster formed a Wellness Committee in February 2021. While the firm has historically shown its commitment to employee well-being in a variety of ways, the creation of the Wellness Committee formalized that commitment and the firm’s desire to continue exploring new ways to support employee wellness.
Since its formation, the Wellness Committee has worked to promote employee wellness in several meaningful ways, including:
- Creating an internal webpage of affordable and accessible wellness resources for the firm’s employees.
- Circulating information monthly regarding wellness resources, events, and seminars happening at the firm and in the community.
- Organizing an internal CLE in which Joan Bibelhausen—the Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers—provided information on implicit bias, mental health, and double stigma to all lawyers and staff.
- Partnering with the firm’s Social Committee to organize several social-wellness events and ensuring that wellness initiatives are considered when planning the firm’s social events.
- Planning and facilitating wellness-related challenges to support employees in improving their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
As part of the next step to ensure employee wellness, Nichols Kaster is proud to announce that it has become a signatory to the American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) Well-Being Pledge as of March 2022. In doing so, the firm joins over 200 legal organizations that have taken steps to bring awareness to and provide resources dedicated to improving well-being in the profession.
The Pledge is part of the ABA’s Well-Being Campaign, aimed at improving concerning rates of substance-use and mental-health issues in the legal profession, and the reluctance of those to seek assistance due to the stigma associated with these issues. The Pledge provides a seven-point framework to guide legal employers’ wellness efforts. By taking the Pledge, Nichols Kaster is committing to prioritize this framework, including providing enhanced and robust education to attorneys and staff on well-being, mental health, and substance-use disorders; reducing the expectation of alcohol at firm events; and partnering with outside providers committed to reducing substance-use disorders and mental-health distress in the profession.
The Pledge builds on the firm’s continuing commitment to provide a healthy work environment, including its recently launched Wellness Committee. The Wellness Committee is comprised of attorneys, staff, and members of the firm’s leadership and provides well-being programming such as health-focused events and activities, as well as trainings and presentations on wellness topics. The firm also provides employees with a variety of wellness resources, including an employee assistance program.
“It has never been more important for us to acknowledge and pro-actively address the potential wellness challenges that employees in the legal profession face. Nichols Kaster is proud to become an ABA Well-Being Pledge Signatory and hopes that a bi-product of the Pledge is greater awareness of the issues that have plagued our industry and a culture of support for those seeking help.” Steven Andrew Smith, Co-Managing Partner, Nichols Kaster, PLLP.
More information on the ABA’s Well-Being Campaign and Pledge can be found HERE.