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"What's Next" The New Mexico Well-Being Committee's 2022 Campaign

Celeste Valencia | 28 Feb, 2022 | 0 Comments | Return|

From its inception in 2020, the New Mexico Well-Being Committee has maintained that it’s time for a culture change in the legal community; one that supports, encourages, and provides resources for its members’ well-being. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all; not at the individual lawyer level, nor at the community level. Indeed, there are many different sub-communities within the larger legal community, each with its own needs and perspectives on well-being. Thus, the Committee is pleased to announce its “What a Healthy Legal Community Looks Like” campaign. Starting next month, February, 2022, the Committee will air monthly podcasts and publish related articles featuring different “communities” within the larger legal community.

What “communities” are we talking about? At a minimum, solos and small firm practitioners, large firms, public defenders, district attorneys and other prosecutors, in-house counsel, lawyers for state agencies, judges, lawyers who are new to practice, lawyers who have practiced for decades, law students, paralegals and legal assistants. Undoubtedly there are others not listed here but from whom the Committee wants to hear. The plan is to showcase what each community is doing to create and promote well-being for its constituent members, and discover what additional resources and services might be pursued in the future.

We will be tapping into state and national legal community well-being sources in an effort to highlight the movers and shakers in this space. These are the firms, organizations, agencies and individuals that are changing the historical landscape of how the legal community performs or works. To be blunt, these are the legal communities that are choosing to pay attention to and take action to put in place guidelines, rules, policies, and recommendations that lead to a healthier work environment. Some of those actions might be mandatory regular vacation, reducing yearly billable hour limit, inviting families to company events, onsite physical exercise area, onsite therapist/counselor, encouraging away-from-desk lunch breaks, PM time limit on checking/responding to e-mails/texts, daily guided meditation resource, contact information for mental and behavioral health services/resources, a topdown regular conversation on the importance of taking care of oneself, and, most importantly….. leaders role modeling the behavior.

Yes, this is a tall order that will require us to redefine what it means to be a healthy, vibrant legal community. It will require that we make fundamental changes in the way we think about practicing law, in the way we actually practice law and in the way we prioritize our own wellbeing and the well-being of others while practicing. And it will require purposeful hard work. On the surface, it might appear easier to just leave things well enough alone; after all, haven’t we been doing things the same way for decades? Yes, and perhaps that is why 36% of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers1 , 28% report mild or higher depression symptoms, 23% report mild or higher stress symptoms, 19% report mild or higher anxiety symptoms and lawyers are ranked #8 in a top ten study of suicide by occupation. Turns out that “doing things the way we always have” results in a high probability that lawyering might be hazardous to your health. Again, it is time for a culture change.

As we embark on this overdue legal well-being culture change wave, we want to hear from you. What actions does your firm, organization, agency….basically, your work environment, currently have in place to take care of your mental, emotional and physical health? What improvements could be made? Maybe you feel your “What’s Next” The New Mexico Well-Being Committee’s 2022 CAMPAIGN 10 Bar Bulletin - January 26, 2022 - Volume 61, No. 2 work environment is a model for other state and national legal communities? Does your work organization/ firm have an identified Health and Wellness Director/ Leader? Does your work environment need one? In your legal community (i.e. SSF, law school, law firm, AG, DA, LOPD, etc.), do you know what other like state communities are doing to support their work force in the well-being area? Should you find out?

You know what is next….yes, we want to hear from you regarding these questions. Whether you are a five-star role model or “we have nothing in place, but are willing to learn”, we want to hear from you. It is through connection and the sharing of information that we can and will be a healthier New Mexico legal community. It takes a few to start the conversation, but it takes a majority to force a shift, break down barriers, de-stigmatize, and cause change that is for the good of the whole. Would you like to write an article about your work environment? Would you like to have a discussion in a podcast? Please email us at

As always, if you want more information, please visit If you want to get involved or have questions, email us at Regardless, we hope that each of you will join us in a commitment to wellbeing individually and as a community.

Authors: WILLIAM D. SLEASE (“Bill”) is the Professional Development Program Director for the State Bar of New Mexico. In addition to his duties at the State Bar, he serves as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law where he teaches 1L Lab, Ethics, and serves as a practice skills evaluator for the evidence-trial practice skills course.  He formerly served as the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the New Mexico Supreme Court Disciplinary Board. Prior to his work in the public service sector, he was in private practice with an emphasis in civil rights, employment and tort litigation. PAMELA MOORE, MA, LPCC, the Program Director of the State Bar of New Mexico’s Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (NMJLAP), and a member of the NM Well-Being Committee.

Endnotes: 1 National Task Force On Lawyer Well-Being Report, Aug. 14, 2017, Institute For Well-Being In Law,



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