Event Calendar

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Course: Sustaining Well-Being in Public Defense (Part 1)

Start Date: 4/19/2021 12:00 PM EDT
End Date: 6/12/2021 12:00 PM EDT

Organization Name: National Association for Public Defense

Jeni Benavides
Email: events@publicdefenders.us
Phone: (859) 629-9152

Sustaining Well-Being in Public Defense: April 19-June 12, 2021 (8 weeks)
Course designed by Jenny Andrews

Registration deadline April 12 at noon eastern.
Apply for a scholarship.   Deadline April 8 noon eastern
$145 for NAPD Members.  $195 for non members.

As you register, you will be asked to pick one option
Small Group 1: Mondays 12-1:15 Pacific/2-3 pm Central/3-4:15 Eastern with Justin Heim
Small Group 2: Wednesdays 5-6:15 Pacific/8-9:15 Eastern with Jenny Andrews and John Lopez
Option 3: No small group: the goal of this option 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. We will explore 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. We will discuss strategies to advocate for systemic change and create public defense culture supportive of well-being.

This course is a prerequisite for Part 2: Supporting Well Being in Public Defense, which focuses on the ways leaders, trainers, supervisors, well-being committee members and individuals can improve systemic support for well-being in public defense.

Course Learning Objectives:
By the end of this course participants will:
-Recognize challenges and obstacles to prioritizing and sustaining well-being in public defense.
-Utilize strategies and tools to sustain well-being, pairing appropriate strategies with the challenge or obstacle.
-Explore different well-being and resilience building activities to build experiential learning and understanding of which tools are useful.
-Understand that prioritizing well-being is foundational to competence. Our strength and resilience is what enables us to provide high quality representation and access to justice.
-Review studies of the impacts of public defense work on well-being.
-Become conversant in terminology of trauma and resilience (trauma, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, burnout, moral injury).
-Acquire skills to build a culture of wellbeing within their offices and to advocate for systemic change to support wellbeing.
-Participate in and model normalizing open discussion of vulnerability, through asynchronistic discussions boards and synchronistic group discussion.
-Support each other in a small group space for debriefing, brainstorming, incubating ideas, and providing accountability for goals.
-Acquire enhanced self-awareness through individualized self-assessment and practices such as journaling or mindfulness.
-Design and complete an individual goal toward sustaining their own well-being.

See the course outline in the learning management system


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.

Online registration is currently unavailable. Please contact us via email or phone for assistance.