Santa Clara Law is proud to announce that it is the first law school in the nation to take the ABA Well-Being Pledge, continuing a long tradition of prioritizing wellness for its law community. In doing so, Santa Clara Law joins over 70 national law firms committed to taking concrete steps to improve health and well-being in the legal profession.
The Pledge outlines seven core actions: providing enhanced and robust education, reducing the expectation of alcohol at events, partnering with outside providers, developing proactive policies, providing confidential access, showing that the core values include taking care of yourself and using the pledge to attract and retain community members.
In response to the growing evidence that lawyers suffer disproportionately high rates of alcoholism and substance abuse, the Law School recently took a major leap in its efforts and instituted an alcohol policy. The policy restricts attendees at Law School events to two drinks per person, limits the available alcohol options to beer and wine, and mandates safety plans for those in attendance. The policy governs School-sponsored activities, including events for students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and friends of the Law School. Dean Lisa Kloppenberg explains, “I’m proud that our community has made the wellness of our students a top priority. It’s consistent with the ethic of care I have seen faculty, staff, and students demonstrate toward each other. It also resonates with our Jesuit emphasis on educating the whole person.”
Santa Clara Law has long been aligned with the wellness mission, buoyed by the work of the Wellness Task Force. Formed in 2015 and comprised of faculty, staff, and students, the Wellness Task Force has implemented a series of interventions, each aiming to forge connection and to limit the extent to which any given member of our community might feel alone in their struggles with the law school experience. Professor Michelle Oberman, who with Director of Student Life Jill Klees, leads the Task Force notes, “In an era of heightened attention to stress and anxiety among lawyers and law students alike, Santa Clara’s Wellness Task Force offers an organic, dynamic alternative to the more commonplace packaged responses of mindfulness meditation or exercise classes. Its work engages the long-term culture shift required if we are to meaningfully respond to the sources of alienation and despair reported not only by law students but also by members of the legal profession.”
One project tackling food insecurity issues, “Stone Soup,” provides a weekly free lunch of chili and soup made from supplies donated by faculty and staff. With funding from the Law School and generous donors, this program has expanded to become a stand-alone student organization known as SCU Eats, which now maintains a food bank and provides free healthy food for students on a daily basis.