Douglas W. Leonard, Chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has been nominated to serve as a member of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
“Lawyers strive to connect those in need to the justice they deserve,” Leonard said. “Research shows, however, that our colleagues are in need as well and are many times, struggling in silence with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
“We need to clearly communicate that not only is help available but that we can and should be the catalyst for change on behalf of our colleagues.”
Created in 2016 by the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, the task force is focused on building a legal profession rooted in greater well-being, increased competence and greater public trust.
As part of its work, the task force leveraged the latest available research regarding the status of lawyers’ health and basic competence. Based on its findings, recommendations focused on five central themes, including:
- Identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession;
- Eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors;
- Emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence;
- Educating lawyers, judges and law students on lawyer well-being issues; and
- Taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.
“While it is critically important that we remain committed to bridging the gap to maintain public confidence in our profession, preserve access to justice and innovation in the delivery of legal services, providing for the health and well-being of our colleagues must be a priority,” Leonard said.
“I look forward to working with this distinguished group to plan for the future of the legal profession.”
In addition to his service with the Board, Leonard is the Director of Consulting Services for iMapSolutions and has more than 20 years of experience working with domestic and global companies in a consultant and executive coach role.
Leonard sees a natural connection between his work supporting senior corporate executives and the legal community. “Both are under a great deal of pressure to perform. There are often expectations that you need to be ‘on’ 24/7. The work is rewarding but often exceptionally taxing due to today’s climate of unprecedented change, increased competition, heightened volatility and uncertainty. Among what I help executives with is increasing their own self-awareness including understanding and communicating their internal motivational needs. Tending to those internal needs are critical to personal well-being and improved relationships with others.”
“A lawyer, as well as a C-Suite executive, can feel alone and find it difficult to ask for help. Most businesses, however, have recognized and addressed this issue and now provide greater resources to assist their employees. My opinion is that legal industry needs to catch up and invest in the same support systems.”
Active in community and public service, Leonard has served as Executive Administrator of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and also served as a Board member and president of the Pennsylvania Association of Court Management.