Acknowledging Lawyer Well-Being: Let’s Talk

One must be a healthy lawyer in order to be a good lawyer. I do not mean just physical health but also mental health. Lamentably, our profession has significant shortcomings when it comes to mental health and well-being. Numerous studies have shown over and over again that too many lawyers experience high levels of depression, chronic stress and substance abuse. These findings are not sustainable for our profession. For a profession dedicated to client service and responsible for the public interest, well-being is of paramount importance.

Tennessee has been a national leader in lawyer well-being initiatives. Our Supreme Court had the foresight to create the Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) in 1999 to help lawyers, judges and law students in distress. The Tennessee Bar Association has demonstrated its continued commitment to well-being by establishing the Attorney Well-Being Committee in 2008, creating its Better Right Now programming and amending its Bylaws last year to specifically reference lawyer well-being as part of its purpose.

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being recently published a comprehensive report, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.” The report makes recommendations on what we can do to: reduce the level of toxicity in our profession, reduce the stigma of mental health and substance abuse, encourage self-help behaviors, recognize well-being as part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, begin a dialogue about suicide prevention, and support a Lawyer Well-Being Index to measure the profession’s progress. The report also makes specific recommendations for judges, legal regulators, legal employers, law schools, bar associations, lawyers professional liability insurance carriers and lawyers assistance programs. You can learn more about this report and the latest news on lawyer well-being at this new website:

The Tennessee Bar Association will continue to implement new content and innovative programs on lawyer well-being, including some of the recommendations from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s report. Our profession cannot solve a problem that it is not willing to acknowledge. Education on wellness, chronic stress, substance abuse, suicide prevention, mindfulness and other contemplative practices are positive steps we can take towards solving the problem. High-quality programs about lawyer well-being and regular wellness tips in TBA Today, this journal, and our social media platforms will be forthcoming.

Do you or someone close to you need help with stress, substance abuse or mental health? TLAP can help and it is confidential.

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Lawyers Assistance Program provide confidential assistance to help lawyers, judges, and law students cope with substance abuse, mental health, stress management and other conditions that can negatively impact your personal and professional lives. Get help before it is too late. You can reach TLAP at (615) 741-3238 or (877) 424-8527.


Pannu’s Pairings: The Jura

I affectionately refer to the Jura wine region as France’s hidden wine gem. The Jura region is nestled in eastern France between Burgundy and the mountains of Switzerland. It is a cold region that gets much less sunlight than other wine regions. Wine production in this region is tiny, accounting for less than 0.2 percent of overall production in France and only about 10 percent of this production is exported. The good news is that if you are lucky enough to find wines from the Jura in the United States, it was likely imported by someone who is passionate about these wines and this region.

The Jura is known for its oxidative white wines, which have been intentionally exposed to oxygen by not topping off the barrels regularly during the winemaking process. The oxidative style of winemaking is noted by the words sous voile, tradition, typé and Vin Jaune. Non-oxidative white wines are also made in the Jura and is noted by the word ouillé. The white wine varietals in the Jura are Savagnin and Chardonnay.

The red wine varietals in the Jura are Trousseau, Poulsard (aka Ploussard) and Pinot Noir. Much of the red wine production from the Jura can be described as stinky or funky … but in a good way. The appellations you will mostly likely find in the United States are Arbois, Arbois-Pupillin and Côtes du Jura.

One unique aspect of tasting wine in the Jura is that the winemaker will have you taste the red wines before tasting the white wines. It took visits to several winemakers for me to get used to tasting red wine first. One winemaker told me this is because the white wines are “much stronger” than the reds and I cannot disagree.

Food Pairings: Most everyone has heard of Comté cheese (Costco carries it), which is made in the Jura. There is no better pairing for Comté than Vin Jaune. Tasting Vin Jaune on its own requires much explanation because of its oxidative style. But when Vin Jaune is put together with Comté, one really begins to understand food and wine pairings. Light-bodied Poulsard pairs well with charcuterie and terrines. Trousseau and Pinot Noir from the Jura pair well with fish and poultry. Both white wine and red wine from the Jura should be served slightly chilled. My favorite producers from the Jura are Domaine André et Mireille Tissot, Domaine de la Tournelle, Domaine Jean-Françoios Ganevat and Domaine Philippe Bornard.

Please drink responsibly.

PHOTO: Jason M. Pannu, right, and Sarah Neil Pilkinton with Stephåne Tissot at Domaine André et Mireillle Tissot in Montigny, Jura, France.

Jason M. Pannu is a shareholder in the Nashville office of Lewis Thomason. You can reach him at Follow Jason on Twitter @jasonpannu and Instagram @jasonpannu.
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