Current and Ongoing Research

Research: Understanding the mental health challenges

We are proud to share our direct involvement with an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved studies.

Under the leadership of primary investigators Jerry Organ and David Jaffe with financial sponsorship from the American Bar Foundation and the Dave Nee Foundation, the Law Student Well Being Study was launched in the spring of 2014.

The Law Student Well Being study (2014) was the first national, multi-school study of alcohol and substance use among law students in two decades (since the AALS Survey of 1991, results of which were reported in 1993), and the first ever national, multi-school study of mental health issues among law students.

Not only did the Dave Nee Foundation support this study financially but our programming director was also involved in law school recruitment for the study, minimal survey question design, and analysis, interpretation, and delivery of school reports and national results.

So far the results of the study have been shared at the SEALS 2014 and COLAP October 2014 professional conferences and we continue to look for appropriate outlets to publicize the results. If you are interested in seeing some of the initial results of the study please contact Katherine Bender, PhD, programming director at Kbender@daveneefoundation.org.

Please note that in pursuant with IRB guidelines we are not at liberty to disclose information about individual schools that may or may not have participated in the study.

Another research project that we are pleased to have been consulted on, is our Advisory Board member, Patrick Krill‘s partnership with the ABA to conduct a landmark survey of attorney behavioral health. This study, similar to the law student well-being study, will be groundbreaking in the sheer amount of data it seeks to collect regarding substance use, mental health, and help-seeking behaviors of practicing attorneys from multiple states.

While this are two of the  IRB approved research study of which we have been a part, we do our best to promote and advocate continued research in this area. One way we do this is through the research committee of our advisory board.


Uncommon Counsel: Learning and Improving

At the start of each one of our Uncommon Counsel presentations we let attendees know that there will be an opportunity for them to offer feedback on the program. From these feedback forms we are able to better inform future programs.  We gather information primarily on the content of the program but also make inquiries into attendees motivation to attend and how they learned of the program. While this is primarily an internal program evaluation; we make our best efforts to share the feedback with our partner organizations. Further, at the end of each academic year, we compile all of the national feedback and share with each law school their results as they compare to that national data.  We monitor any significant variations from the average. We also monitor the averages for each question and take note of any differences from previous years both within each school and also in aggregate.

While our uncommon counsel program attendees certainly provide us with helpful and meaningful information, we recognize that we need information beyond what we can glean from those who attend our programs. As such, it is vital to our work and to the work of others in the field to support and be involved in university-affiliated IRB approved research efforts.  The depth and scope of such projects allows for empirical data to be collected from law students and lawyers in a multitude of settings. This data is then analyzed and interpreted and the results are shared at national  conferences or in law review or peer reviewed academic journals. The robust nature of these types of research projects lead to lasting impacts on the fields of: mental health, the legal profession, and workplace wellness.


We would like to encourage law schools to participate in the ongoing research of the Healthy Minds Network.

While the primary focus of this research has been the mental health and substance use of undergraduate students, each year, more and more graduate students are participating in the survey.  We suggest that law schools communicate directly with their counseling center to find out if the school is already a Healthy Minds school and if so, to encourage the law students to participate and if not to begin the steps towards becoming a Healthy Minds school.

The information that participating schools gather can be used to better understand the scope of substance use and mental health problems on campus.This is important for law schools to best emphasize the areas of law school student life that present the most challenges and obstacles to law student wellness.