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The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change

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Produced on January 22, 2018

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Course Information

Time 1h 1m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Ethics Law Practice Management

Course Description

Abraham Lincoln advised that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” Presently, the leaders of our legal profession stand at a crossroads in this construction effort. To maintain the status quo is not an option. Too many in our profession are too exhausted, too impaired, too disengaged, or too self-absorbed to develop into their best selves. Many find themselves in a profession drained of civility and compassion and plagued by chronic stress, poor self-care, and high rates of depression and alcohol abuse. The result is that the profession is not living up to its full potential as an institution in which attorneys can thrive, best serve their clients, and contribute to a better society. Further, research shows that the current state of lawyers’ health cannot sustain a profession that depends upon the public trust, and is grounded in a tradition of self-regulation.

In this program, panelists James Coyle and Tracy Kepler will provide information on two recent studies that revealed the high rates of substance use and mental health disorders among law students and lawyers, statistics that served as catalysts for a Report from the National Task Force on Attorney Well-Being. They will present recommendations to multiple legal stakeholders, including legal employers, regulators and bar associations, on what they can each do to institute a culture change so that well-being becomes a priority. Much focus will be placed on Rule 1.1 (competence) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and the recognition that well-being is an essential aspect of competent and ethical practice. The speakers will present information on how all members of the profession can work to promote attorney well-being, and in so doing ensure fitness to practice, competent representation and ethical engagement.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine the various statistics demonstrating the prevalence of substance use and mental health disorders in the legal community
  2. Develop best practices that legal organizations can utilize and implement in order to ensure and improve attorney well-being
  3. Identify the ethical obligations that attorneys and legal organizations have to promote attorney well-being, with a particular focus on Rule 1.1 (competence) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Please note: this course will be for general credit only in Virginia.

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Tracy L. Kepler is the Risk Control Consulting Director for CNA’s Lawyers Insurance Program. In this role, she designs and develops content and distribution of risk control initiatives relevant to the practice of law. She collaborates with the underwriting and claims teams to develop and execute strategies for the profitable growth of the program.  Tracy lectures frequently at CNA-sponsored events and at state and local bar associations and national seminars hosted by industry-leading organizations.  She also writes articles focusing on law firm risk control and professional responsibility issues. 

Prior to joining CNA, Tracy served as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR), providing national leadership in developing and interpreting standards and scholarly resources in legal and judicial ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, client protection, professional liability, and attorney well-being.  From 2014-2016, Tracy served as an Associate Solicitor in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), where she concentrated her practice in the investigation, prosecution, and appeal of patent/trademark practitioner disciplinary matters before the Agency, U.S. District Courts and Federal Circuit, provided policy advice on ethics and discipline-related matters to senior management and drafted and revised Agency regulations.  From 2000-2014, she served as Senior Litigation Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), where she investigated and prosecuted cases of attorney misconduct.  

Ms. Kepler has served in various volunteer capacities, including as President, on the Board of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), a non-profit organization of legal professionals whose members enforce ethics rules that regulate the professional conduct of lawyers who practice law in the United States and abroad.  Ms. Kepler is currently an Adjunct Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and Loyola School of Law (Chicago) teaching Legal Ethics.  Committed to the promotion and encouragement of professional responsibility and attorney well-being throughout her career, Ms. Kepler has served on the ABA’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, where she was a Commission member, a member of its Advisory Committee, the Chair of its Education and Senior Lawyer Committees, and also a member of its National Conference Planning Committee.  She is a member of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and an author of its Well-Being Report.  She is also an Advisory Board Member of the Mindfulness in Law Society. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and received her law degree from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts.

James Coyle

Colorado Supreme Court

Jim Coyle is Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court. Mr. Coyle oversees attorney admissions, attorney registration, mandatory continuing legal and judicial education, attorney discipline and diversion, regulation of the unauthorized practice of law and inventory counsel matters. Mr. Coyle has been a trial attorney with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel or successor Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel since 1990. Prior to that, he was in private practice. He earned his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1985.

Mr. Coyle is actively involved on a national level with the National Client Protection Organization (NCPO), the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), and the International Conference of Legal Regulators (ICLR). He served on the NOBC board of directors from 2014 – 2016, and currently serves as NOBC liaison to the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) Committee on ABA Model Rules on Advertising and as a member and co-chair of the CoLAP/NOBC/APRL National Task Force on Lawyer Well-being.

Recent committee work includes programming work on and hosting the first ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR)/NOBC/Canadian Bar Association Regulators Workshops on proactive, risk-based regulatory programs, in Denver in May 2015, in Philadelphia in June 2016, Washington, D.C. in September 2016, and St. Louis in June 2017; acting as co-chair and organizer of the First ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection UPL School in Denver in August 2013, member of the planning team for Chicago in April 2015 and October 2017; participating in the NOBC Program Committee and International Committee, including as Chair of the Entity Regulation Subcommittee, now known as the Proactive Practice Management Programs Committee; and NOBC Aging Lawyers and Permanent Retirement subcommittees. Mr. Coyle is also an active member of the Colorado Chief Justice Commission on Professional Development and its mid-career working group, the CBA/DBA Professionalism Coordinating Council and its subcommittee on a professionalism rule, the Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, and the University of Colorado Law Alumni Board’s Diversity Committee.


Bryan P.

Nicely done!

Timothy H.

Best program on this topic I have seen or attended. Thanks

Theodor S.

good teamwork

Mia V.

Thank you!

Nathan A.


Andrew G.

very passionate speakers about the most important issue. So glad you posted this CLE course. Thank you thank you..

Luz Y.

Good Stufff Presented

Kathleen D.

Very good

Ken N.

Great CLE

kenneth H.


Jeremy S.

Thank you.

philip w.

It would be good to have an hour in which 6 instructors each shared their technique for countering stress: yoga, breathing, silence, Muir's meandering in nature. walking meditation, tai chi.

Paul Z.

Well done presentation

Camille T.

Especially appreciated the regulator from Colorado. Good program!

Bruce W. R.

need to be vigilant, good course

Erik G.

Thank, this was needed info.

Katherine A.

Thank you to our leaders for considering our Health and Well Being. I actually admitted in 1995 through my Bar Application that I had gone to some counseling. Most of my friends wouldn't go because of having to admit it. However, it helped me so much through a tough break up. Though it was very awkward during the Bar Interview discussing by this time an almost 3 year old situation that was behind me. Anyway, the less the stigma the better and the more people feel free to support themselves, the better!

Iveta S.


Assly S.

This should be mandatory watching for anyone who needs an ethics credit. What an amazing video. So much information and I love the "call outs" to different groups to do better, especially those who write the professional responsibility rules that we can all do better to help those suffering and the focus not just on substance abuse but also general well being at EVERY. SINGLE. LEVEL. AWESOME!

Amy C.

Both were very engaging speakers.

Laurel C.

The material and instructors were enlightening.

Nessa C.

Excellent course and speakers

T. O.

James Coyle is a very effective and impressive presenter on an important topic which goes to the heart of the legal profession! My thanks to LAWLINE for offering this course!

Jill R.

Great course and content, glad to see the legal profession is addressing this issue!

Victor Q.

Thank you to both Presenters for taking their time to address this issue and presenting same to us.

Joan M.

Excellent program.

Michelle W.

One of the best courses yet, very useful and valuable information!

Catherine H.

presenters were professional, informative, efficient and had a nice manner, very important topic, well done and well presented, thanks

Robin N.

I really enjoyed this program, I haven't taken a class like this before and think it is really valuable. Would definitely recommend to other lawyers!

Ann W.

Thoroughly enjoyed this program. The statistics were sobering, and no pun intended. The passion and sincerity of the two speakers was obvious. Over the past several years I have made a point to "take care of myself" be that a walk and/or 10-15 minutes of reflection per day, which was mentioned in this program. It has made an immense difference and I truly feel my work has improved for the better. Thanks for spreading the word, we need to care for each other in the profession and outside

Karin B.

This topic is SO important!

Ian M.

Great presenters turned an otherwise boring subject into an entertaining hour. ty.

Zachary J.

great program!

Chris B.

Excellent! I appreciated the openness and honesty.

Gretchen C.

Good ideas and good presentation.

Larned F.

as always, very good.

francisco javier m.

good (nice initiatives)

Sarah M.

Very well done

William P.

A very important and timely topic for the profession, not just for attorneys but, just as importantly, for the clients we serve as well.

Randi M.

Again, Tracy is a good presenter and the program was informative.

Deborah R.

Excellent presentation

Maja L.

This was a good presentation

Michael A.

Very thought-provoking.

Stacey W.

excellent program.

Maureen D.


Jeanne A.

We need more CLEs focusing on these issues. Thank you!

John G.

Long overdue, great presentation

John M.

Held my interest

Elise M.

An important issue.

Kristin C.

Great course and so wonderful to see so much attention to wellbeing.

Nichole F.

I appreciate the fact that wellbeing is becoming an important topic in the legal community and that there are now CLEs on that subject. I look forward to related courses in the future.

Elizabeth S.

It was an informative program.

Jennifer H.

Important info - and needs attention by senior partners/employers


Very informative program. Keep up the good work!

Carrie B.

Great information! The statistics are something to be aware of.

William S.

Very timely!

Stephen B.

This should be mandatory course. Also best team lecture I've viewed to date.

James S.

Important topics, but geared for larger organizations -- and in particular the managing committees of those entities. Still, it was clear the presenters cared deeply about these issues.

John M.

A very likable and very caring pair of professionals who can hopefully make a difference in this amorphous facet of the law.. I enjoyed their presentation immensely. Best of luck to their endeavors. i

Annette R.

glad to see these sentiments expressed.

Antoine M.

Valuable and critical information for lawyer well-being

Heather S.

One of, if not the best CLE I have watched. Thank you.

R. Christopher R.

Fantastic seminar which should be required viewing for all regulators.

Kim K.

This was some of the BEST content I have heard/read in YEARS! I think if I had worked with partners who took this kind of approach to life, I may have enjoyed working in a law firm a LOT more. The overworked, don't take a break, don't spend time with your family mentality is completely overrated! I also appreciate the nuance the presenters mentioned to thinking about WHY some people are uncomfortable at firm functions with a lot of alcohol. There are sooooo many reasons why people don't drink (health, family history, life choice, religion, etc.) and no one EVER talks about that. They just assume everyone drinks and you're "different" if you don't want to hang out at the bar for the meeting after the meeting. Again, I enjoyed this CLE. PLEASE pass on this message to presenters to continue their advocacy to get this message to law school students. They don't have to give up their lives and wellbeing to practice law.

Anne W.

Great presentation

Kenneth C.

Great presenters and effective conversational format. Thanks!

Kerry L.

Bravo! Finally some real suggestions for how to improve this issues in our profession. THE HIGHER UPS need to be required to watch this and their pay should be determined by their implementation of these checklists. Well done.

Steven W.

Should be a required program for all lawyers, should be more courses like this.

David M.

Awesome CLE

Shaun E.

Great and effective presenters.

Kris W.

Good suggestions and presentation!

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