State Bar Fails to Recognize Importance of Work-Life Balance

Attorneys are notoriously bad at making work-life balance enough of a priority in their lives. This failing can lead to deeper issues  such as depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse, which can in turn compromise our ability to effectively represent our clients. This is not a news flash and is presumably the reason for the existence of the State Bar’s Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

So I was floored when the State Bar denied continuing legal education credit for an excellent program on this very topic that I participated in last month through the American Inns of Court. In the 20 years since Austin’s Inn was founded, this is the only time that it has been denied credit for one of its programs. The stated reason is that a program can’t just be about “personal growth” and must be something that will make the attorney a better attorney. Yet clients are almost always more effectively and more ethically served by sober, mentally healthy, well-balanced lawyers.

The team that put the program together is in the process of appealing the decision to deny credit and is optimistic about its chances. But it’s a sad testament to the State Bar’s priorities that the appeal is even necessary.

2/11/09 Update: After reviewing the petition appealing her decision to deny CLE credit, the State Bar’s MCLE Director changed her mind. The program was therefore approved for ethics credit.

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