This week is the first annual Lawyer Wellbeing Week, introduced by the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing and the ABA as a response to the continued findings that attorneys are at an elevated risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. As Francine Tone put it, “Most lawyers live in chronic stress, which triggers stress chemicals into the system that interferes with not only well-being but also the skills lawyers need to practice law (problem-solving, decision-making, influence, persuasion, and more).”
The Task Force is using Lawyer Wellbeing Week to highlight activities that law firms and attorneys can take to promote physical, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, social, and emotional wellbeing, and encouraging organizations all over the country to join in.
At Lawline, our greatest resource is our faculty, who are incredibly knowledgeable, generous, committed to the profession and their fellow attorneys. For this Lawyer Wellbeing Week, we surveyed them about the different ways in which they take the time to focus on their wellbeing. As always, their responses were thoughtful, practical, and empathetic. Not surprisingly, they frequently mentioned the current COVID crisis - but most of their suggestions are practices that we should all move forward into our lives post-pandemic. We got so many great tips that we will be sharing them throughout the month of May. Check them out below in Part I of this series:
For Spiritual Wellbeing: Take Time to Reflect
Gary Chester: “Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to meditate (there are many free apps) or reflect.”
David Feldman: “Look for daily ways to reaffirm, relax, find perspective, and stay focused.”
For Social Wellbeing: Stay Connected
David Feldman: “Reach out to at least five people a day to reconnect (or connect for the first time) to keep relationships going and forge new ones.”
Patrick Stiehm: “I use online video conferencing as much as possible to have at least the feel of face to face contact with clients and colleagues.”
Francine Tone: “We are social creatures and need social connection. One of the strategies I have employed during this home-sheltering is reaching out to non-co-workers and having regular social gatherings in a Zoom room to chat, catch-up, laugh and just socialize - no business and no agenda. I'm creating more connections than I otherwise would if I were not home-sheltering. Perhaps using this strategy now will leave you recognizing how important social connection is in your overall well-being and your ability to more effectively manage stress in your law practice even after COVID-19.”
This Lawyer Wellbeing Week, we hope you are taking the time to focus on the different aspects of your health that keep you going and make you the lawyer you are. For more wellness strategies, check out the great toolkit the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing put together, as well as some of Lawline’s excellent wellness programming.
And remember, as faculty Traci Salami sums up: “Eat well, exercise, check in with family and friends regularly, work on your hobbies, and seek professional help if needed.”