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The Magazine of Illinois Lawyers

July 2018Volume 106Number 7Page 8

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President's Page

Your Success and Well-Being

New ISBA President James F. McCluskey to head initiatives supporting the financial, emotional, and physical health of each member.

James F. McCluskey

Welcome to the 142nd Year of the Illinois State Bar Association. I am proud and honored to represent the ISBA's 28,000 members as its president for 2018-19. We are happy to report that the ISBA is a vibrant organization. However, the ISBA is mindful that it must strive to remain relevant to its members if it's to sustain its growth and well-being.

The commitment required to practice law and the high cost of a legal education are certainly barriers to our profession. In order to meet these challenges, bar associations must be relevant to all members and assist them in their successful practice of law. If we are not relevant to our members, we will cease to exist. That's the bottom line. Members must receive a tangible return on their investment. "One size fits all" is an archaic concept. Therefore, the leaders of the ISBA will be working together to create services and benefits that will promote financial, emotional, and physical wellness.

During my year as president, the ISBA will continue to emphasize highly regarded services that are already in place. In addition, we will create new programs in close partnership with the Lawyers' Assistance Program.

The American Bar Association's National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being reported that too many lawyers and law students experience chronic stress and high rates of depression and substance use.

"These findings are incompatible with a sustainable legal profession, and they raise troubling implications for many lawyers' basic competence," states the task force's final report (see https://bit.ly/2J2UJqa). "[Research] suggests that the current state of lawyers' health cannot support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on the public trust."

The report concludes: "To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly, our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being."

The legal profession is struggling. Our profession confronts a dwindling market share as the public turns to more accessible and affordable alternative legal providers, such as Legal Zoom and Avvo.

As the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being reported:

We are at a crossroads. To maintain public confidence in the profession, to meet the need for innovation in how we deliver legal services, to increase access to justice, and to reduce the level of toxicity that has allowed mental health and substance use disorders to fester among our colleagues, we have to act now.

An ISBA wellness task force

With this in mind, the ISBA leadership will be creating a wellness task force that will recommend programs and initiatives that educate, inform, and support members this year and beyond.

I look forward to working with President-elect David Sosin and Second Vice President Dennis Orsey, both of whom are committed to supporting my wellness initiative and carrying on departing-President Russell Hartigan's efforts on succession planning. I am excited to work with David, Dennis, and Third Vice President Anna Krolikowska on these and other efforts.

ISBA's officers and Board of Governors will be working hard and collaboratively to improve the practice of law for every member of this fine organization.

Please join us in this coming year. I welcome and embrace all of your suggestions. We are in this together-not only to improve the profession, but to enhance the well-being of the residents and state of Illinois.

Thank you.