American Judges Association


Court Review: Journal of the American Judges Association

Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 54, Issue 2 (2018)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


At their swearing-in ceremonies, most judges are filled with a sense of meaning, pride, and happiness after achieving such an honored role. And rightly so. Alexander Hamilton said that “the first duty of society is justice,” and judges play a central role in this epic duty. With this duty, however, comes enormous responsibility—and plenty of pressure. Judges are not always well-prepared to deal with the stressful realities of the job that come after the ceremony and celebrations have ended, including overloaded dockets, heightened public scrutiny, weighty decisions, disturbing evidence, irritating lawyers and litigants, anxiety over time limits and expectations of perfection, threats to safety, social isolation, and more.1 That this onslaught of new pressures does not cause a diagnosable mental health disorder or addiction for many judges does not mean that they are mentally healthy, fully engaged, or thriving. Instead, too many end up feeling isolated, trapped, and burned out.

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being recently issued a watershed report—The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change—that calls for judges and all of the profession’s stakeholders to prioritize well-being. The report defines well-being as a “continuous process toward thriving across all life dimensions”2 and establishes it as a key contributor to professional competence. In February 2018, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates endorsed the report through Resolution 105.3 These developments, along with many other initiatives cropping up across the profession, suggest a growing demand for positive changes to support lawyer thriving.