How to protect your personal well-being in the legal work environment How to protect personal well-being in a legal environment

The pressure on the lawyers is enormous. The desire to diligently represent clients is as strong as ever, as is the need to meet their billable hour goals and achieve their career aspirations.

But burnout is acute and affects many attorneys so much that they consider resigning their positions. The movement towards better well-being will gain momentum as the workforce shifts towards millennials. according to a Thomson Reuters report“This generation of lawyers brings with it great expectations and different priorities… In fact, 50% of millennial lawyers say they would change jobs if it meant a better work-life balance.”

Changing jobs or industries is certainly an option. But what if you like your current job in the legal environment? What if you want to stay put and enjoy more balance and greater well-being in your life?

know your why

“When you have a fuller sense of purpose at work, you’re more likely to feel engaged than burned out,” says Nita Cumello, Global Client Director and Director of Well-Being for Global Large Law at Thomson Reuters. She encourages lawyers to do so understand what their companies are working towards and how they contribute to this work. “When people have a clear purpose, the team is more committed, the culture thrives, and the overall environment is healthier,” she says.

Benefit from employee well-being programs

Law firms have done much to assist individuals in cultivating their own well-being. This can include extra days off, wellness apps, yoga over lunch on office days, or expanded remote work opportunities. Many attorneys turn down these offers because they fear the look, and law firms must work to change that stigma. The more people who participate, the more likely people will realize that health care programs aren’t just for “fighting” advocates, nor are these programs “fluffy” as one might have seen in the past. Cumello notes that wellness programs are valuable investments that companies make in the whole person. “It’s a holistic approach to work that allows the individual to thrive,” she says.

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It doesn’t have to be a new program – it can be something as traditional as going on vacation. At the ABAs Wellbeing Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers, Author Anne Brafford shares the benefits of taking vacations. She writes: “In their study of 6,000 practicing attorneys, law professor Larry Krieger and psychology professor Kennon Sheldon found that the number of vacation days taken was a significant predictor of attorney well-being — and even stronger than income level in predicting well-being well-being. Being.”

Everyone wants to invest in their well-being, but people may be waiting for someone else to make the first move. If you hesitate to take advantage of a new offer, think about what you could do for your colleagues. You can discover what mix of work and activity can help you optimize your physical, mental, emotional and social health. If other people see you doing this, they may feel more confident exploring it themselves.

This is especially important when you lead teams. People will expect you to validate or undermine the company-wide wellness message. Help others by taking care of yourself. Cindy Kelly, who leads a client education team for the Legal Professionals business at Thomson Reuters, makes it a point to open her meetings with grounding and connection exercises. “My team members have a metrics-based role and work with clients all day—and we take a moment to be present with each other,” she says. “We signed up Mindful Business Charterand I saw a great opportunity to make that charter a reality at the team level.”

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Protect your time

Setting boundaries at work can be uncomfortable. There will always be more work, and there will always be clients or colleagues who need your time. Customer demand isn’t going away, but you can ask, “Can it wait until Monday?” Businesses are rethinking their own stance on wellbeing, which gives you a great opportunity to adapt to them and extend non-critical deadlines to promote balance and wellbeing consider.

Law Professor Rosario Lozada, who is a helpful 10-step reflection exercise in the ABA Journal, stressed the importance of making time for self-care. She wrote: “The next time you check your calendar or other to-do list, add a specific self-care duty. Choose an activity that renews and energizes you; Make it a high-priority recurring event. You may have just embarked on a brave act of ‘self-preservation’.”

Start in six-minute increments

None of this is easy. Finding level ground for personal well-being looks different for every lawyer. Your professional and personal priorities will be different from those of your peers, and your appetite for rocking the boat will be different too. So where do you start? Cumello likes to paraphrase well-being legal expert Jarett Green by encouraging you to start with six minutes based on their conversation about her Wellbeing Practice Podcast. “You can find six minutes in your day to breathe, go outside, find stillness, or do something that brings you joy. Make it a daily practice. Invest the time consistently and see where it takes you. If you give yourself the opportunity to reflect that this isn’t a luxury, it helps you optimize the way you work – it’s easier to take the time.”

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Six minutes a day can take you anywhere – to becoming more engaged in your current role, gaining the confidence to take the next big step in your career, finding a new hobby, or spending more time with your family. It can help you connect to your why and decide how to protect your time. It can help you be a better lawyer.

“It’s not a luxury,” says Cumello. “It’s an imperative.”

Well-being is closely linked to mental health. If you’re concerned about your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek advice. Our article to Dealing with mental health in the workplace can help you identify your employer’s legal responsibilities to meet your mental health needs.

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