NEW YORK – Global law firm Reed Smith’s Mental Health Task Force is sponsoring a groundbreaking Law Student Mental Health Summit on Oct. 12.

The virtual Zoom event for law school students, faculty members and administrators starts at 9:15 a.m. (ET) with welcoming remarks from Global Managing Partner Casey Ryan and Mark Goldstein, partner and chair of the firm’s Mental Health Task Force. The event ends at 4:30 p.m. (ET), providing a wide window for participation by individuals associated with law schools in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific region, including six one hour-long sessions and a concluding networking opportunity.
Reed Smith is a recognized leader in supporting mental health issues in the legal industry for the past several years. Earlier this year, the firm held its third-annual Mental Health Summit.

“Prioritizing mental health and self-care during law school can have a significant influence on students’ long-term health as well as contribute to their lifelong well-being and happiness,” Ryan said. “Law school administrators, faculty and students worldwide are increasingly focused on improving their recognition of and response to students’ mental health concerns. We hope that Reed Smith’s collaboration on this summit will advance the conversation on this key issue.”

The summit’s agenda features:

  • Jordana Confino, attorney, educator, professional coach and champion of lawyer and law student well-being, presenting “Foundations for flourishing: Leveraging the science of positive psychology to maximize well-being, resilience and performance.”
  • Debra Austin, Ph.D., well-being consultant, and professor at the University of Denver, and David Jaffee, associate dean of student affairs, American University Washington College of Law, presenting “Through the haze: Impacts of alcohol and substance use on the law student mind.”
  • Janet Stearns, dean of students and lecturer in law at Miami Law School, and Taylor Davis, Reed Smith associate, presenting “What I know now: Survival stories on the path from law school to practice.”
  • A panel discussion presented by the Institute for Well-Being in Law with Shailini Jandial George, author and professor at Suffolk University Law School, and Kim Craver, chief HR officer at Reed Smith on “Future proofing your mental health starts now.”
  • Joe Ankus, attorney and president of Ankus Consulting, Inc., and Reed Smith partner Mark Goldstein present “Mental health crisis warning signs.”
  • A panel discussion by Sande Buhal, professor of law and director of public interest/pro bono at Loyola Law School, Madeline Maldonado, consultant and adjunct professor at Fordham University, Chalak Richards, dean of students for diversity and belonging at Pepperdine University School of Law, and Reggie McGahee, Reed Smith’s global head of diversity recruiting, presenting “Supporting diverse law students: What law school faculty and administrators should know.”

“Recent research shows that law students have an increased risk of experiencing depression, alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide,” Goldstein said. “We want to provide a forum for them and their faculty members and administrators to hear from leading mental health experts and legal industry professionals about the unique stressors that can endanger law students’ mental health – as well as about what can be done to protect themselves and promote their success.”

A 2022 study published in the University of Louisville Law Review reported today’s law school students are dealing with mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression, at higher rates than their predecessors. Nearly 69% of respondents from 39 law schools surveyed in 2021 reported that they needed help for emotional or mental health problems in the past year, a significant increase from the 42% of students who reported those needs in the 2014 version of the same survey.

The summit provides a “next step” for law school students, faculty and administrators participating in 2023 Law School Mental Health Day events on their campuses today sponsored by the American Bar Association, coinciding with World Mental Health Day.

The event will be both livestreamed and recorded; a video will be available on-demand.