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Path to Well-Being in Law - Episode 28: Tara Antonipilla

9 min read

Path to Well-Being in Law - Episode 28: Tara Antonipilla


We are on the cusp of one of IWIL's most notable programming events of the year, Well-Being Week in Law, and we have a very special guest with us today to talk about one of IWIL's highest priorities. That's Tara Antonipillai, who is serving this year as our Chair of Well-Being Week in Law.

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Chris Newbold: Hello and welcome to this special edition of the Path to Well-Being in Law podcast. My name is Chris Newbold and I'm here with my co-host Bree Buchanan. Bree, how's it going?

Bree Buchanan: Great, Chris. How are you?

Chris Newbold: Good. I'm actually pretty excited actually because we are on the cusp of one of IWIL's most notable programming events of the year, Well-Being Week in Law, and we have a very special guest with us today to talk about one of IWIL's highest priorities. That's Tara Antonipillai, who is serving this year as our Chair of Well-Being Week in Law. Tara, how's it going? 

Tara Antonipillai: I'm great. Thanks for having me, Chris and Bree. It's nice to be here. 

Chris Newbold: Yeah. So let's first of all get right to the dates. Tara, when are we queued up to go on Well-Being Week in Law for 2023? 

Tara Antonipillai: Well, Well-Being Week in Law is exactly two weeks away. So it's May 1st through the 5th, 2023, Monday through Friday. 

Bree Buchanan: And what amazes me is that this is our fourth annual, boy as time go by. So tell us, Tara, is how this week is structured, how is it set up? 

Tara Antonipillai: Sure. So just a little bit of background. Well-Being Week in Law occurs the first week of May to launch Mental Health Awareness Month. So it is meant to focus on folks in the legal profession who may be struggling with mental health and alcohol use disorders, but also on those that while not dealing with a diagnosable illness, may not be fully thriving in their work in their life. So the aim of this is really to raise awareness about mental health and encourage action and innovation across our profession. So the week is structured in themes. So each day has a theme and as you look through it, you can see Monday is physical wellbeing, Tuesday is spiritual wellbeing, Wednesday is career or work wellbeing. Thursday is social wellbeing and Friday is emotional wellbeing.

Bree Buchanan: Wonderful. 

Chris Newbold: I was going to say, one of the things that I think is really awesome about this particular week, and I want to give a lot of credit to the founder of this particular week, and that was Anne Bradford back several years ago. She said, "Listen, if we can get a date on the calendar in which we can shine the light on wellbeing as an issue, we can organize around that. We can talk about issues, we can set out the welcome mat, so to speak, to organizations, law firms and individuals to advance the dialogue." And it certainly feels, Tara, like that concept has really worked and worked well. And we continue to see growth in this opportunity. 

Tara Antonipillai: That is definitely true. I mean, we owe a huge debt to Ann for both the idea and also for the structure and many, many of the resources that serve as the foundation for Well-Being Week in Law. She put a tremendous amount of her intellectual capabilities and her really just her hard work into this and so to build it into what it is today. And I think we should be thankful to her and I think she's very happy to see what Well-Being Week in Law has become. 

Bree Buchanan: And Tara, one of the things that is so amazing about this... Well, two things. It's free for everybody, but also the amount of resources that are available on our website, Can you talk a little bit about what some of those resources are and how people can have their own Well-Being Week in Law? 

Tara Antonipillai: Yeah, for sure. So the way that we have set up the website is so that really it's a hub for folks to plan their own Well-Being Week in Law if you happen to be inside an organization or if you are an individual to participate in Well-Being Week in Law using the resources that are there. So each day there is a live event. So we sponsor one live event each day this year. Those are at 1:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time, each day for 60 minutes. And they key to the daily themes. Those webinars are free to participate in, although you do have to just register so that you get the link. 

And then we also have daily posts, which are very popular. Those are great for people who might be very busy. They have some really small things that again, are related to the daily themes. So each day there is a read this watch or listen to this and do this item. So those are meant to be small things that you can do to improve that element of wellbeing. And then the other thing that is on the website are a tremendous amount of activity guides and really detailed planning guides for organizations, for bar associations as to how they might go about organizing a Well-Being Week in Law inside their organization. 

Bree Buchanan: So Tara, I was just going to say, what's the first step to get involved? What are we asking folks to do? 

Tara Antonipillai: Yeah. So the best thing that you can do is, you can register as an individual or you can register as an organization. And that allows us to directly funnel the information to you, send all of the webinar information to you and make sure you receive all of the daily posts as well as access to the webinars. And then the other thing is if you'd rather not register, it's not required, it is free, but you can also go ahead and just start to check out the website and see what you find. One of our other really popular resources that's been updated for this year is the Mental Health Awareness Month calendar. And many, many people and organizations have told me that they use that calendar extensively throughout the month of May. It is linked to a lot of our resources. It includes an activity, something small each day that people can do to improve or focus on their mental health and wellbeing. So really that's just another way that you can use what we have available in a way that suits you. 

Chris Newbold: So again, just to reiterate there, all of the resources for Wellbeing and Law Week are on the website. I think everything is easily accessible through a click in the upper right-hand corner of that. Tara, I think it's fair to say that once they click on that, there's then a pathway to say, are you an organization? Are you an individual? You pick your journey so to speak. And I think one of the things, and I know that we're still two weeks out, but if memory serves me, we already have a over 150 different organizations who have already come in and registered to participate. That's an incredible number. And again, I think it demonstrates a couple of things. One, how much this issue is being talked about within the legal community. How many different types of organizations and stakeholders ultimately want to get engaged, and how many of them are ultimately coming to IWIL as part of us being able to provide resources to help them structure a very productive week in that first week of May. 

Tara Antonipillai: Yeah, I think that's really true. I have been really floored with how many people have registered. I think right now we have 172 organizations registered as of today. And it's fun to see how people are participating, which actually reminds me, we do have a participation challenge again this year that relies heavily on one of our sponsors, Canyon Ranch, who donates a really great three day prize getaway for anyone who participates. And all you really have to do is fill out a survey that's very easy to access online. You'll see it multiple times on the website that just says, tell us how you're participating in Well-Being Week in Law. And it can be anything from participating in one of our webinars to I've gone for a walk every day at lunch. It can be very simple and that enters you for a chance to win some really great prizes. So it's been very popular in years past and I expect it will be this year as well. 

Chris Newbold: Just give us a brief sampling of, because again, I think when we say organizations that are participating, I got to think that there's a real interesting diversity not just in diverse groups, but diverse stakeholder groups that are opting to participate from, I got to guess, law schools and perhaps regulators, insurance carriers, law firms. I'm guessing it runs the gamut because everybody is looking at the issue just from a different perspective or lens. 

Tara Antonipillai: That I think is very true. So even if you look at the first few on our list, we've got Akin Gump, it's a large law firm, and then we've got the Alabama State Bar Quality of Life and Health Wellness Committee. We have the Aramark Legal Department and then Armstrong Teasdale below them. And then we have the Brooklyn Defender Services and several law schools, the North Dakota State's Association. So just this really wide cross section of organizations that are not only participating but are collaborating with us to get the word out and encourage their members to participate. 

Bree Buchanan: That is really exciting. Tara, one of the things we like to talk with our guests about too is, if you could just tell us what has driven your passion for wellbeing and law? How did you get to working in this space? 

Tara Antonipillai: Well, I was a lawyer. I was a tax lawyer at a large firm in Washington DC. I did mostly nonprofit tax work and I have a lifelong interest in yoga and meditation. So when I stopped practicing law, I found my way, coincidentally back into law firms. My old firm, Arnold & Porter asked me to come back to teach some stress management programs and I just became super interested in it. I never really thinking that it would be a second career for me. Ultimately, I went back to graduate school and to coaching school at Brown and to graduate school at Penn in applied psychology. 

So I became really interested in how we could help people and focus on maybe some small changes. My husband was a partner in a law firm and he runs a company now. So I think I really understand that people are very busy and don't always have a lot of extra bandwidth. So in my research and in my work, I really am focused a lot on behavioral economics, behavioral changes, ways that people can harness and use the time that they have and not necessarily trying to find a lot of extra time towards promoting wellbeing. So that's the angle that I come at it from, and really where my passion is, which is that overlap between busy people and wellbeing. 

Chris Newbold: Good. So any last words of advice or counsel? Obviously we want to invite as many listeners and their respective organizations or as individuals to become an active participant in Well-Being Week in Law. I would say probably the easiest thing for folks to do if they're interested, and again, you can do this all the way up until the day before, or you can actually do it during the week of that, I would guess, Tara, advise folks to go to the Well-Being in Law or website. So the IWIL website, is that the easiest way to start their journey? 

Tara Antonipillai: Yeah, for sure. The IWIL website is definitely the way to go. And my final words would just be that there's a path for everyone when it comes to Well-Being Week in Law. You can participate as little or as much as you would. So I encourage people to check it out and maybe just lean in just a little bit, try out one or two things and see how it goes. But I hope that you will join us and participate in the way that works for you. It's really a week, a program, a system that's designed for everyone and to be used in multiple ways. So we hope you will join us. 

Chris Newbold: Yeah. And like I said earlier, I mean, this is an offering that you should feel free to take your own journey. As long as you're doing anything in the space of wellness, you can certainly opt into the structure that we can help provide you and the resources and the communication toolkits that are available. But if you want to do one thing during the week or organize something in your respective law firm around wellbeing, I mean, you have the ability to lean in to the greatest extent or the least extent that you want to. We're just here to obviously support you and anything that you want to do to advance the cause of Well-Being Week in Law. Anything else, Bree, that you would mention? 

Bree Buchanan: I think that's it. I think it's time to get out and go take a walk or something from Well-Being. 

Chris Newbold: I do want to give a special shout out to sponsors, upcoming Well-Being Week in Law. One of them has obviously already been mentioned Canyon Ranch. And we're going to be, I think, raffling off a three night all-inclusive pathway experience at Canyon Ranch. And then two other supporting sponsors that I want to give a special shout out to. And that would be Virgin Pulse. And obviously they're doing work in the wellbeing space. And then the good folks over at Unmind who are also providing resources to folks interested in advancing wellness in their particular organizations. 

Bree Buchanan: And we have this a daily sponsor Guide and Thrive as well. 

Chris Newbold: That's right. That's right. Excellent. Well, Tara, thanks for joining us. Again, a very heartfelt thank you for the work that you are investing. Tara is a volunteer with the Institute for Well-Being in Law. She has stepped in as... Anne has taken a little bit of a breather. Tara has stepped up and done so in just a really thoughtful, big time way. And we're really proud of you, Tara, and everything that you've done to advance this particular week, and we're really excited about what lies ahead. 

Tara Antonipillai: Awesome. Thanks for having me. I can't wait. 

Bree Buchanan: Thanks, Tara. 

Chris Newbold: Excellent. Thanks. 

BREE BUCHANAN, J.D., is Senior Advisor for Krill Strategies, LLC, a position she came to after her tenure as Director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas. She serves as a founding co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing and is immediate past Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP). ________________________________________________________________________CHRIS L. NEWBOLD is Executive Vice President of ALPS Corporation and ALPS Property & Casualty Insurance Company, positions he has held since 2007. As Executive Vice President, Chris oversees ALPS business development team, sales strategy and is ALPS’ chief liaison into the bar association community, where ALPS is endorsed by more state bars than any other carrier regardless of size.

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