The Integrated Lawyer
Updated: May 19
May happens to be lawyer wellness month. If the month of May can accomplish one thing, hopefully it will raise awareness for just how important health and wellness is for the legal profession. Simply taking the time to consider the obvious benefits of self-care would be a gigantic step in the right direction. Having an open mind to try to implement some simple changes in June would be the next fantastic result.
The Impact of Lawyer Wellness
At first glance, it seems counter-intuitive that lawyers would need a reminder as to wellness. After all, lawyers as a group are generally highly educated, motivated, and goal oriented. Likewise, lawyers for the most part went into the legal profession to help others, to be dogged advocates, and to make things better. Yet, lawyers all too often and to their own peril, ignore their own health and wellness. How can this be?
The results of ignoring health and wellness for the legal profession are telling. Job satisfaction is in decline, life's purpose is questioned, civility is challenged, waist lines are expanded, physical health problems are increased, depression is on the rise, and suicide continues to shock the profession.
Improving Lawyer Wellness Improves Performance
I would suggest that a step in the right direction is to consider taking an integrated approach to practicing law. What does this mean? Well, if you want to get better physically, you normally begin to focus your efforts on nutrition, flexibility, strength, and endurance. The same applies to your intellect. If you want to learn something new, you conduct research, you read, develop patience, determination, and focus. I think we all can agree that if one system goes out of balance, whether it is your body or your mind, that it will impact the other. Peak performance requires a command of both body and mind.
It would seem to me that as a profession, we may have focused too long and too much on practicing law and not complimenting that with self care for the body and mind. Being subject matter legal experts only, without properly incorporating healthy habits for our body and mind is one of the root causes for declining health and wellness in the legal profession.
In the end, I would argue that to be a better lawyer, advocate, and negotiator, requires you to integrate and maximize your health (the body), wellness (the mind), and your subject matter expertise (the law). You deserve this and so does your family and your clients.
If any of this resonates with you, I would encourage you to at least try doing something for yourself in the next thirty-days that might be different but all the same better for you. Start out with one new habit for your health, wellness, and subject matter expertise. Try a new exercise regimen or healthy eating practice. Investigate meditation, yoga, getting out in nature, or taking a break from the computer or the telephone. Be curious, expand your mind and stimulate your intellect with a new book, sit for a CLE on a topic of interest, or join a new professional organization. Take this thirty-day challenge and see where you end up. You might just surprise yourself and feel like a whole new person.