Improving Lawyers’ Health by Addressing the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences
20 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 7, 2018
The legal community has recently acknowledged that many in the profession suffer from the effects of poor mental health and has called for steps to improve lawyers’ well-being. Though well intentioned, this movement has largely ignored what the Centers for Disease Control calls a “basis for much of adult physical and emotional health problems”: adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. Research by neuroscientists and others has concluded that much of adult physical and mental illness has its roots in the unresolved trauma of childhood adversity. At the same time, research also indicates that understanding the impact of these early experiences can alleviate such illness and its attendant maladaptive coping behaviors. Thus, efforts to help lawyers improve their mental health without addressing adverse childhood experiences will inevitably fall short. This Article recommends that bar associations and law schools take measures to educate attorneys and future attorneys about the potentially far-reaching consequences of these experiences and means to overcome them. Without such a commitment, countless lawyers will continue to be plagued by their trauma histories—to the tragic detriment of lawyers’ families, clients, communities, and mental health.
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