|Sustaining Well-Being in Public Defense: Jan 11, 2021-February 17, 2021
Course designed by Jenny Andrews
Sections: REGISTER FOR 1 OPTION:
Small Group 1: Mondays 12-1 Pacific/2-3 pm Central/3-4 Eastern with Justin Heim
Small Group 2: Wednesdays 4-5 Pacific/7-8 Eastern with John Lopez
Small Group 3: Wednesdays 5-6 Pacific/8-9 Eastern with Jenny Andrews
Option 4: No small group. The goal of option 4 is to make the course available as widely as possible, including to people interested in the content but unable to join any of the small group times. The hope is that you will build in a weekly discussion of the content with a loved one, colleague or group so that you will also experience the benefit of the group discussion, debriefing, brainstorming and goal accountability.
|Target audience: Anyone working in public defense—attorneys, investigators, mitigation specialists, administrators, holistic advocates, paralegals, legal secretaries, interns, anyone.
|Course description: Working in public defense has very real impacts on our well-being. Though we must maintain our physical and mental health in order to provide high quality and client-centered representation to the people we represent, we face constant obstacles of working within under-resourced agencies, being exposed to intense trauma, and handling casework demands that often challenge our boundaries and commitment to self-care. This course will provide an informed and supportive conversation about burnout, self-care and sustaining motivation for PD work. This course will explore evidence-based practices to sustain well-being and mitigate the traumatic impacts of public defense work. Drawing from yoga, mindfulness, and gratitude practices, we will explore self-care techniques and how to include them in our demanding schedules. Using self-assessment, reflection, and structured goal setting, participants will develop individualized strategies to sustain well-being while working in public defense.
|Course Learning Objectives:
-By the end of the course participants will recognize obstacles to prioritizing well-being, and will have acquired tools to sustain their own preferred wellbeing activities, and motivation to prioritize wellbeing as foundational to providing high quality representation in public defense.
-By the end of the course, participants will be able to use wellness concepts (trauma, burnout, moral injury) as lenses to begin to build a culture of wellbeing within their offices and to advocate for practices that support wellbeing.
-Participants will review studies of the impacts of public defense work on well-being, explore evidence-based practices to sustain well-being, and compare and evaluate difference tools for different impacts.
-Participants will participate in and model normalizing open discussion of vulnerability, through asynchronistic discussions boards and synchronistic group discussion.
-Participants will design and complete a SMART goal in the form of a 21 day well-being practice.
-By the end of the course, participants will benefit from an enhanced self-awareness of their own obstacles and strategies to support well-being, by repetitive reflection through individualized self-assessment and practices such as journaling or mindfulness.
|Section 1: Is Working in Public Defense Good for You?
Challenges, Obstacles, Strategies at All Levels
|-Why should we care about supporting and sustaining well-being in public defense?
-Introductions and personal motivations. Why is your well-being a priority right now?
-Overview of research on wellness of public defenders.
-Growth mindset v fixed mindset.
-Introduce practices: Mindfulness. Third thing.
|Section 2: Self-Assessment and Personal Goal Setting for Well-Being
|--How are we doing? Self-assessment
-Where do we want to invest energy into sustaining well-being? Setting a personal SMART goal
-Introduce practice: gratitude practices
-Commit to 21+ day personal SMART goal to sustain well being
|Section 3: The Cumulative Impacts of Trauma
|-Primary and Secondary Trauma of this work
-Historical trauma we bring into this work with us.
-Cumulative traumatic impacts.
-Understanding stress response.
-Mitigating trauma and chronic stress.
-Introduce practice: Journaling, Mindfulness
|Section 4: Well Being as Competence and Access to Justice
|-Wellness as part of competence
-Setting and maintaining boundaries.
-Efficiency and systems as tools to protect down time.
-Introduce practice: Gratitude
|Section 5: Creating a Culture of Wellness in Public Defense
|-Celebration, recognition and gratitude.
-Holding space for grief, shame, forgiveness, and vulnerability.
-Mental health care and substance use.
-Creative and artistic practices: crafts, poetry, journaling.
|Section 6: Systemic Change to Support Well-Being
|-Burnout v. moral injury.
-Reducing moral injury in public defense.
-Mindfulness and safe spaces for inner work and systemic change.
-Evaluation of goals, self-assessment, future goals.
A child of counterculture, raised off the grid by back-to-the-land hippies on the Lost Coast in Northern California, Jenny Andrews is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. She started her career as a public defender in Oakland, California in 1996, but left after seven years, after experiencing burnout and moral injury, and didn’t practice law for three years. She returned to public defense work in 2007, and has continued working as a public defender in Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County, in a wide variety of positions, including: Forensic Resource Counsel, Felony Team Leader, Director of Training, and Senior Deputy. She teaches on the faculty of Gideon’s Promise, the National Association for Public Defense, the National Criminal Defense College, the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School, and the California Public Defenders Association, and the NAPD Online Academy. She has been a certified yoga teacher since 2004, previously worked in the education department of Yoga Journal magazine, and is a longtime student of yoga and mindfulness practices. She believes in finding supportive practices to sustain a career in public defense—hers include yoga and meditation, writing, hiking along the beach with her husband and daughter, and tending a rural apple farm in Northern California.
John Lopez currently works in Philadelphia with the Defender Association and teaches at Drexel Law. At the Defender, John’s main role is as a Development Attorney to mentor new attorneys through their first year at the office. He also carries a trial docket and is on the Recruitment Committee to help bring new attorneys to the office. At Drexel, John teaches writing to third year law students. Recently, he co-taught a class with Susan Brooks focused on trauma, healing and restorative justice.
Justin Heim is a Staff Development Program Specialist at the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office. Before taking a position in the training division, he worked for 7 years as a mitigation specialist in the appellate division. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, he worked in various community mental health settings in Colorado. His training is in Contemplative Counseling Psychology, which integrates traditional psychological models with the contemplative traditions of the East and West.