MSU Law Assistant Dean Continues his Work on Lawyer Well-Being

Dean Taylor Appointed to Commission on Well-Being in the Law

Abijah TaylorMSU College of Law Assistant Dean for Student and Academic Affairs Abijah Taylor has been appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Commission on Well-Being in the Law for a two-year term. Assistant Dean Taylor served on the Michigan Task Force on Well-Being in the Law as one of the law school representatives from May 2022-August 2023.

In announcing Assistant Dean Taylor’s Supreme Court appointment to the Commission, Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement said “Thank you for your willingness to serve and for the commitment of your time and energy to benefit the legal system. This Court and the State Court Administrative Office look forward to working with you.”

Assistant Dean Taylor was welcomed to the Commission on Well-Being in the Law by the Chair and Vice Chair, Justice Megan Cavanagh and Molly Ranns, respectively. The leadership of the Commission and shared some introductory thoughts on implementing the recommendations from the Task Force Report issued in August 2023.

“The challenges to the well-being of those working, or preparing to work, in the legal profession are well documented. We are excited that the Court has created this Commission and demonstrated its commitment to addressing well-being and promoting a culture in which legal professionals can thrive. We believe that this is not only beneficial to individuals but will also strengthen the legal system,” said Justice Cavanagh and Ms. Ranns.

“The legal profession is tough. From learning the craft to practicing the art, attorneys and prospective attorneys serve people who are often in the most stressful situations of their lives. It is difficult not to absorb some of this trauma while representing client interests and providing counsel,” said Assistant Dean Taylor. “We, individually, in the legal industry have tried to respond with events and initiatives to raise awareness. What is needed is to address these realities head as a profession with a direct and structured approach. Our priority is to create a better place for all of us to grow and thrive, particularly the students and new attorneys. By helping each other, we are better able to serve our clients.”

In May 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court and the State Bar of Michigan established the Task Force on Well-Being in the Law in response to “compelling research demonstrating that the legal profession is struggling with depression, anxiety, and substance use issues,” according to the Task Force report (PDF). This research included a 2016 study by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation of nearly 13,000 practicing attorneys and a 2016 survey of Law Student Well-Being.

Based on these studies, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being issued a National Report and a call to action. The Michigan Task Force agreed with the “findings that enhanced well-being of members of the legal profession helps maintain public trust in the legal system and increase access to justice” and answered the National Report’s call to action. In addition to Assistant Dean Taylor, MSU Law’s Kristina Bilowus, Assistant Director for Career Services, served on the Task Force in her role as Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, State Bar of Michigan.