Vaccines are available. Courts are fully open. We’re back to normal … or are we? This pandemic has changed us, changed our courts, changed our communities, and changed our ways of approaching the justice process.
As we think about moving forward, where we go from here, it’s easy to focus on those processes. Courts shifting services online has been an incredible leap forward in access to justice. Online dispute resolution is breaking down barriers. Available court technology is better than ever.
But how are YOU moving forward? How is your team? How are the individuals and groups you interact with every day? Forbes recently reported that “Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health challenges of those in the legal professions and employees that work within the court system.”
It’s okay not to be okay. As everything around us starts to show signs of “normal” life, we can’t pretend the pandemic never happened. We can’t act as though everything is fine. Many of us are still not fine, especially in the justice space, where the pandemic took a particularly heavy toll.
The NCSC compiled a fantastic list of resources, many of which are state-specific, to help courts and attorneys better manage their mental health. We especially love their tips and best practices, which emphasize empathy, authenticity, and mindfulness.
Additionally, consider the ways in which you can support the mental health of your team by maintaining some of your pandemic-level flexibility and adaptability. A recent appellate court survey found that about 50% of staff would prefer being able to work from home regularly (1-2 times per week), even post-pandemic, while only about 10% want to return to the pre-Covid days of almost entirely in-person work.
As you make your “move forward” plans, we encourage you to think beyond your processes and technology and keep your own health and the health of your team at the center of your plans. Don’t get us wrong—we LOVE processes and technology—but nothing is more important than the people who make justice happen every day.
We’re here. We’re listening. And we appreciate you.