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Legal professionals often operate in high-stakes environments with long hours, tight deadlines, frequent travel, and constant schedule changes. Law students and attorneys have consistently reported high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Research has also shown that legal professionals tend to self-report higher levels of problematic drinking and substance abuse behaviors than the general population self-reports.

On September 10, 2019, the RAND Institute for Civil Justice held a conference at the RAND Corporation's office in Santa Monica, California, that brought together stakeholders to discuss the evolving dialogue around attorney mental health and substance abuse. The conference had several goals: (1) to explore current trends and reflect on current and prospective efforts to enhance attorney well-being in the legal community; (2) to uncover actionable steps that law schools, law firms, and others can take now to help students, attorneys, and others who are struggling; and (3) to identify areas in which empirical research can help to move the needle in the right direction.

These conference proceedings summarize the key points made by the panelists and conference participants.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    What the Legal Community Can Learn from Corporate Well-Being Programs and Academic Research

  • Chapter Three

    How One Lawyer Overcame Living with Depression in Big Law

  • Chapter Four

    Beyond the Pledge: What Law Firms, Law Schools, and Bar Associations Are Doing to Promote Well-Being

  • Chapter Five

    The Elephant in the Road: Conventional Psychiatric Treatment Is an Overwhelming and Needless Obstacle

  • Chapter Six


  • Appendix A

    Conference Agenda

  • Appendix B

    Speaker Biographies

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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