|Sustaining Well-Being in Public Defense: January 30 - March 24, 2023
Weekly small groups: REGISTER FOR 1 OPTION:
NOTE: Please do not register supervisors into the same small group as people they supervise.
Small Group 1: Mondays 12-115 Pacific/2-315 pm Central/3-4 Eastern
Small Group 2: Wednesdays 5-615 Pacific/8-915 Eastern
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.
Course format: Each week for 8 weeks, there is approximately 1 hour of materials to review at a time convenient to you, and one scheduled weekly 75 minute small group meeting.
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.