The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH), a partnership between the University of Utah and Weber State University with a mission of protecting workers, is leading a first-of-its-kind national research project to gain insight into the well-being of Hispanic attorneys.
Announced this week, the project is a collaboration between the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Institute for Well-Being in Law. The work will be directed by Matthew Thiese, PhD, RMCOEH’s chief operating officer and vice president of research and scholarship for the Institute for Well-Being in Law.
The research, which will be conducted through a nationwide wellness survey, aims to illuminate the experiences of Hispanic attorneys. The challenges of careers in legal professions in general are well documented, with high levels of stress, long hours, and demanding clients leading to increased rates of burnout, substance abuse, and other mental health problems. But as racial/ethnic minorities, Hispanic attorneys may face a unique set of issues that distinguish them from their peers—a dynamic that Thiese says needs to be better understood.
“It is rewarding for me and the Rocky Mountain Center to be involved with such an important project,” said Thiese, who is also a University of Utah professor. “This work has the potential, ultimately, to make a difference in many people’s lives. As a researcher in the field of occupational safety and health, that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. I’m grateful to the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Institute for Well-Being in Law for their leadership in making this research possible.”
Thiese and his team at RMCOEH plan to begin distributing the wellness survey this fall, with results from the research tentatively planned to be available next spring. In addition to highlighting challenges Hispanic attorneys encounter, the results will identify areas for improvement and best practices. The end goal is to raise awareness of issues, create resources and support mechanisms for Hispanic attorneys, and promote systemic changes to foster a healthier, more inclusive environment within the legal industry.
Mariana Bravo, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, said the research represents an important step toward “empowering our community to thrive and excel.”
Thiese added that he is eager to launch the project, which is being funded by the Hispanic National Bar Association. Those who are interested in participating will be able to find the survey at the Hispanic National Bar Association website, hnba.com.
“We are excited to engage Hispanic attorneys and learn about their experiences,” he said. “We hope our work moves the needle in a meaningful way.”
About the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health: RMCOEH was established in 1977 to meet the need for comprehensive occupational and environmental safety and health programs in the West. It is a partnership between the University of Utah and Weber State University and is dedicated to protecting workers and their environment through interdisciplinary education, research, and service. For more, see the center’s website, rmcoeh.com.