The Science of Well-Being and the Legal Profession

Lawyers face challenges unlike those found in many other professions. The combination of long hours, time away from family, pressure to find (and keep) clients, stress, and the ever-present focus on the bottom line does not leave much room for balance or a general sense of well-being. This article analyzes why the journey into the legal profession can be difficult and provides research-based solutions to move toward a culture of positive professionalism. The goal is not to present a jaded, self-help view of how to fix the unhappy masses, but rather, to present an empirical, research-based framework to initiate a new conversation within the legal profession. Read the blog.

3 Practices for Letting Go of Looping Thoughts

Jenna Cho, lawyer and author of the book, “The Anxious Lawyer” writes, “The ability to gently let go of negative looping thoughts has been perhaps one of the most powerful and unexpected benefits of having a regular meditation practice. Research indicates that meditation can help us process and decrease the impact of negative emotions, such as anger. If you find yourself stuck in an endless negative thought loop, here are three practices that you may find useful.” Read the entire blog here.

Seven Reasons Why Practicing Law Might Be More Stressful Than Spending 18 Months in a POW Camp

Legal Recruiter, Harrison Barnes writes: “After a long day at the office, the other day talking to attorneys about their jobs who did not seem the least bit excited about practicing law, I had a refreshing phone call with a woman practicing law overseas. The woman is an American but has never practiced with a US law firm. During our conversation, she seemed quite simply to be the happiest attorney I had ever spoken with. “The weather is so nice here today!” she gushed. “I cannot wait to go outside for lunch and take in some sunshine! It’s also my secretary’s anniversary here today! I ordered her flowers. She is going to be so excited!” I’ve been a legal recruiter most of my career. Did this woman know what was going on and how tough being an attorney really was? Had she discovered some unknown antidepressant that was making her immune to the horrors of practicing law?” Read the rest of the story.

The Secrets to Being a Happy Lawyer

Lawyer Monica Zent writes in The Huffington Post, “Associate attorneys may have the highest salaries but, in a recent survey, they were rated as having the “least happy” jobs, perhaps because of the long hours and lack of work/life balance. Greater “balance,” however, might not be the answer. According to Wharton Professor Stewart D. Friedman, ‘A commitment to better ‘work/life balance’ isn’t the solution… A more realistic and more gratifying goal is better integration between work and the rest of life…’ As boundaries between work and home continue to blur and work/life balance becomes increasingly elusive, the future lies in integrating career and life in a more seamless, less structured way”. Read the rest of her article.

Why We Need to Talk About High-Functioning Depression

Emily Laurence writes, “High-functioning depression is when someone seems to have it all together on the outside, but on the inside, they are severely sad. Carol Landau, Ph.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior and medicine at Brown University, says she primarily sees this in women with a penchant for perfectionism—AKA the same people who are likely your colleagues and friends with enviable lives and a long list of personal achievements.” Read the rest of her blog.

Beyond Biglaw: Embracing Stress

Attorney Gaston Kroub blogs in Above the Law: “The general consensus is that many lawyers lead stressful lives. Whether it is the pressures of handling deals, the emotional toll of counseling broken families in a matrimonial dispute, or the general demands of life as a litigator, stress is an ever-present condiment on the sandwich meat that is a lawyer’s life. At the same time, lawyers are generally considered to have plenty of experience managing stress, due to their having survived law school, the bar exam, and even today’s broken job market for recent graduates.” Read the rest of his blog.

Will Meditation Help Stressed-out Lawyers?

Western cognitive psychologist John Paul Minda is collaborating with San Francisco-based lawyer and author Jenna Cho on a project designed to investigate the relationship between mindfulness training and the well-being of attorneys. “We’re hoping to uncover whether or not there are specific things in relation to lawyers,” said Minda, a member of the Brain and Mind Institute. “The specific kinds of stress attorneys deal with is something research really hasn’t done. We just don’t know because this is a relatively new venture. This is definitely exploratory work which will allow us to generate a more specific and targeted hypothesis.” Read the rest of the story.

Are Burnout and Depression the Same Thing?

A new article in the Wall Street Journal writes: “Burnout and depression are seen as two distinct health conditions in the medical world. A new study suggests they may be closer to one. Burnout is assumed to be related to job stress, but it may be a depressive syndrome that develops in response to chronic stress, researchers suggest. Read the rest of the Story.

5 Stress Management Tips for Solo Lawyers: A Proactive Diagnosis

Lawyer Sam Gaylord blogs, “You might have already come to experience the considerable amount of stress associated with being solo, but if you are still transitioning, please don’t make the mistake of underestimating what is involved in running your own business. It’s not the same as being an employee or associate, and the more realistic you are about the demands that will be placed on you, the better you will be able to deal with feelings of overwhelm.” Read the Blog

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