Wellness Wednesday: might adopting some pandemic-related changes improve the profession’s well-being?

We know that the pandemic changed how, when, and where we work.  We also know that some of the changes will remain once the pandemic concludes.  Today, I write to share two developments that, to me, provide insight into pandemic-related changes that may prove beneficial to the profession’s well-being, thus warranting consideration as to whether they should become permanent aspects of how, when, and where we work.

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The first development comes from Florida.

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court approved an advisory opinion issued by the Florida State Bar’s Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.  The opinion concludes that a lawyer who is licensed in another state, but not in Florida, does not violate Florida’s rules on unauthorized practice by providing legal services to out-of-state clients on matters not involving Florida law while working remotely from Florida.  The Legal Profession Blog and ABA Journal reported the Court’s decision to approve the opinion.

The advisory opinion cites to similar conclusions reached by the ABA and the Utah State Bar.  Those of you who recall my post ABA issues common sense guidance on working remotely will not be surprised to learn that I’m a fan of the Florida opinion. It’s a post in which I used this hypo to introduce the ABA and Utah opinions:

“Imagine this:

  • You are a lawyer who is licensed in Other State but not in Vermont.
  • You live and work in Other State and own a condo in Vermont.
  • For various reasons, you move to the Vermont condo during the pandemic.
  • There, and thanks to technology, you continue to work on your clients’ legal matters.
  • You do not open an office in Vermont, advertise in Vermont, accept new clients in Vermont, or give advice on Vermont law.
  • Not one of your client matters has anything to do with Vermont or Vermont law.
  • But for the fact that you’re in your condo, your work is exactly what you’d be doing if you were working from your office in Other State.”

I remain of the opinion that the Utah State Bar nailed it:

  • “what interest does the Utah State Bar have in regulating an out-of-state lawyer’s practice for out-of-state clients simply because he has a private home in Utah? And the answer is the same—none.”

 Returning to the Florida opinion, I support it even independent of any connection to well-being. However, I’m interested by (and appreciative of) the fact that the Florida committee went out of its way to note a comment that an individual lawyer submitted in support of the proposed opinion.  The Committee wrote:

  • “In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Standing Committee finds the written testimony of Florida-licensed attorney, Salomé J. Zikakis, to be particularly persuasive: ‘I believe the future, if not the present, will involve more and more attorneys and other professionals working remotely, whether from second homes or a primary residence. Technology has enabled this to occur, and this flexibility can contribute to an improved work/life balance. It is not a practice to discourage.'”

No, it is not!

The second development is actually an older story.

In early May, Above The Law posted Ropes & Gray’s Reopening Plan Puts An End To The 5-Day, In-Person Office Work Week For Associates.  The post reports on the return-to-work plan announced by one of the nation’s largest law firms.  ATL applauded the firm’s phased re-opening and the flexibility associated with the “ramp-up time the firm is allowing [staff] to reacquaint themselves with office life.” In addition, ATL noted statements that the firm’s chair included in a memo to staff that announced the plan:

  • “No matter what phase we are in, we endorse flexibility post-pandemic. We don’t expect that we’ll ever mandate a five-day a week in-office environment.”

Here here.  Management’s endorsement of flexibility demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of both staff and the organization as a while.  Indeed, as the Florida lawyer noted in the comment above, flexibility contributes to a healthy work/life balance.

Making permanent some of the changes caused by the pandemic won’t be a bad thing.

Emotional Well-Being: the debrief video

It’s time for Friday’s debriefing.  Today’s discussion was so thoughtful that there’s no way my recap will do it justice.

Again, it’s Well-Being Week in Law.  Today’s topic is Emotional Well-Being.  I focused on the importance of learning to accept that we will experience negative emotions and learning to control our responses to them.  Earlier today, I posted this blog advance of a group discussion that took place at lunch.

As have been the others this week, the discussion was fantastic. Here’s the debrief video with my takeaways.

Thanks to everyone who participated today and this week!

Enjoy the weekend.

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Related Material from the Institute for Well-Being in Law

Related Posts

Emotional Well-Being: W.I.N. your 3 feet of influence.

Welcome to Friday of Well-Being Week in Law.

Today’s topic is Emotional Well-Being.  The focus is on learning to understand and identify our emotions.  Here’s a video (8:36) in which I share some thoughts.  The headlines:

  • It’s okay to feel negative emotions
  • W.I.N.
  • W.I.N. your 3-feet of influence
  • It’s okay to ask for help, and help is available.
  • Be 1 of somebody’s 3 or 4

I’m hosting a Zoom discussion today at noon.  The invite is here.  If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts on emotional intelligence, listening to others share theirs, or both – please join!

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Related Material from the Institute for Well-Being in Law

Related Posts

Communities & Connections: the debrief video

It’s time for Thursday’s debriefing.

Again, it’s Well-Being Week in Law.  Today’s topic is Social Well-Being and the importance of communities and connections.  Earlier today, I posted this video in advance of a group discussion that took place at lunch.

As have been the others this week, the discussion was fantastic.  Here’s the debrief video (7:34) with my takeaways.

Tomorrow’s topic is Emotional Intelligence and the critical role it plays in our well-being. I intend to frame the conversation around an idea (not my own) that I used as a coach:  W.I.N.  Or, “What’s Important Now.”  From there, we’ll talk about how emotional intelligence can help us to W.I.N our three feet of influence.  Feel free to join to share your thoughts, listen to others share theirs, or do both! I’ll include the link in tomorrow morning’s blog post.

Thanks again to everyone who participated today.

Connect!

Related Material from the Institute for Well-Being in Law

Communities & Connections

Welcome to Thursday of Well-Being Week in Law.

Today’s topic is Social Well-Being and the importance of communities and connections.  Here’s a video in which I offer to be your guide as you hunt for connections.

I’m not sure that today’s theme is amenable to discussion as yesterday’s or tomorrow’s, but I’m hosting the noon time chat anyway!  Whether to share your thoughts on communities & connections or to listen to others share theirs, you can join the discussion here.

Connect!

Related Material from the Institute for Well-Being in Law

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Engage & Grow: the debrief video

It’s time for Wednesday’s debriefing!

But first, many thanks to those of you who joined the conversation and shared your thoughts. I appreciate your involvement, as well as your continued commitment to the well-being of the legal profession.

Again, it’s Well-Being Week in Law.

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Today’s topic is Intellectual Well-Being, with the mantra “Engage and Grow.” The focus is on striving for continuous intellectual engagement and growth in our work and personal lives.

Earlier today, I posted this blog in advance of a group discussion we had at noon.  A few minutes ago, I recorded this video (5:36) in which I provide a short debriefing of the discussion.  Check it out.  Among the key takeaways from today’s discussion:

  • many confirmed that pro bono work provides an opportunity to engage intellectually while at work. Especially when providing pro bono services in an area outside your normal practice area.
  • another avenue for intellectual growth within the law is board service. For example, a lawyer mentioned serving on a school board and the associated opportunity for intellectual growth because of being exposed to education law.
  • I continue to learn of more and more lawyers who have fascinating interests outside the law! Interests that require intellectual engagement. Today, a lawyer who taught himself to play guitar.  And another who is on her 110th consecutive day of taking at least one French lesson per day.  C’est fantastique! During the discussion, I committed to learning how to . . . . (the answer is available only via the debrief video!)
  • Finally, we had an insightful talk about Impostor Syndrome. For one, so many of us have experienced it. For another, each of us who has was surprised to learn that so many others have too. As I mentioned this morning, if you feel like a phony, or like someone who doesn’t belong in the profession, (1) you’re not; and (2) you’re not alone. Check out the debrief video for additional thoughts.

Thank you again to those who joined today!

I’ll host another discussion tomorrow at noon.  The topic will be Social Well-Being.  The discussion will focus on the importance of finding communities and forging connections within those communities. I’ll post the link tomorrow morning.

Engage & Grow!

Related Material:

 Related Posts:

Venue, the Electric Slide, and Impostor Syndrome: thoughts on intellectual engagement & growth.

Welcome to Wednesday of Well-Being Week in Law.

Today’s topic is Intellectual Well-Being, with the mantra “Engage and Grow.”  We’re focusing on striving for continuous intellectual engagement and growth in our work and personal lives.

Here’s a video in which I go into more detail.  The video ranges from my personal (and borderline frivolous) engagement and growth – venue in federal criminal cases and mastering the Electric Slide – to a serious discussion of Impostor Syndrome.

I’d love to learn your thoughts & strategies for intellectual growth.  Please consider joining this Zoom discussion at noon to share & listen as others share theirs!

 Links to material referenced in my video are below:

Engage & Grow!

  • An article in Elemental on the connection between curiosity and well-being.
  • An article in Courthouse News about a 9th Circuit opinion that involves an international arms dealer and proper venue in federal criminal cases.
  • Joanna Litt’s letter to The American Lawyer about her husband’s suicide.
  • Neha Sampat’s post in the ABA Journal calling on the profession to address Impostor Syndrome.

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Related Posts:

Align

Welcome to Tuesday of Well-Being Week in Law.

Before we begin, how about a nod to Disciplinary Counsel’s well-being?  Happy Birthday Sarah Katz!

Onto business.

Today’s focus is Spiritual Well-Being, with the cue being “Align.”  The goal is to consider how we can “foster a sense of meaning and purpose in all aspects of life” so as to “align life and work to serve your values.”

Last year, I posted this video on Spiritual Well-Being.  I tried to make three points.

  1. “Incivility is corrosive” in the profession. It causes stress, anxiety, and burnout. In turn, these corrode a sense of meaning and purpose.
  2. Supervisors should strive to ensure that those who work for them feel a sense of meaning in what they do.
  3. Younger legal professionals should remember Future You. Not every task is what Younger Me expected I’d be doing once I began my career.  Some feel meaningless.  But every task I complete matters to someone.  Most importantly, Future Me is far more likely to find meaning in my future work if I invest in myself now. And treating every task, no matter how small, as if it is the most meaningful is a form of investment.

I’d love to learn how others strive to find meaning & purpose. What are your thoughts and strategies on how align your work and professional live?  Today at noon, I’m hosting a Zoom meeting.  Everyone is invited.  It won’t be a lecture, but a discussion.  The link is here.  Please consider joining!

In the meantime, here are resources on “Align: Spiritual Well-Being” from the Institute for Well-Being in Law.

Align!

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Let’s Light Some Candles

Here’s a quote to ponder as you read this post.  At the end, I’m going to ask you to remember it.

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

~ James Keller

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Next week is Well-Being Week in the Law.  A project of the Institute for Well-Being in the Law, one of the goals is to provide resources that will help lawyers & legal employers to bolster well-being throughout the year.  As the infographic at the bottom of this page shows, each day has a different theme, with each theme a component of overall well-being.

The Institute’s website includes a plethora of ideas for individuals and organizations to participate in Well-Being Week.  In a way, the plethora can be dizzying.  The tools & suggestions run the gamut from desk yoga to this Alcohol Use Policy Template for Legal Employers.

Indeed, the more I learn, the more I’m convinced that while the profession must prioritize the wellness and well-being of its members, it’s not one-size-fits-all.  Each member’s journey to wellness and well-being will be along the path of their choosing.

For instance, Monday’s theme is “Stay Strong” and is intended to focus on physical well-being.  I tend to my physical well-being by running as often as possible and doing yoga 2 or 3 days per week.  Yet, having a 5K on Monday wouldn’t necessarily benefit someone who prefers biking (or walking, hiking, or swimming) and occasional breathing exercises.

The same goes for emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.  To each their own.  The square peg does little for the round hole’s well-being.

In short, I’m not holding a 5K Monday.  Rather, I encourage everyone to take a few minutes on Monday to consider how you might improve your physical well-being over the course of the year, or how your firm or office might do the same for all who work there. Then, throughout the week, do the same for each of the daily themes.

Here’s where I might be able to help.

Next week, I’ll open a Zoom meeting everyday at noon.  All are welcome.  Whoever joins, we’ll share thoughts and ideas on the day’s theme.  Take what works for you, leave the rest. All I ask is that you come ready to share.  I’ll get each discussion started, but they will remain discussions, not lectures.  You can email me for the links, and I’ll include them in the daily blog posts that tee up each discussion.

The schedule:

  • Tuesday, May 5. Align: Spiritual Well-Being.  We will share ideas related to aligning our work with our values, enabling ourselves to find meaning and purpose in what we do.
  • Wednesday, May 6. Engage & Grow: Occupational and Intellectual Well-Being.  We will share ideas on how to continuously learn and develop, within the legal profession and, as importantly, outside the law.
  • Thursday, May 7. Connect: Social Well-Being. We will share ideas on the importance of forging connections that help us to build communities and support networks.
  • Friday, May 8. Feel Well: Emotional Well-Being.  We will share ideas related to emotional intelligence and learning to identify how our emotions impact us.

You’ll note that I’ve not provided a link for Monday.  That’s because Monday’s focus is physical well-being.  Instead of logging at noon, go for a walk! Or turn off your devices for 15 minutes and do nothing!  Tech breaks help to improve physical well-being!

Again, my goal is to promote the concepts of well-being and wellness. How you go about it is up to you.

That said, here again is the quote:

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

~ James Keller

On wellness and well-being, many of you are candles burning brightly.  Next week, consider joining to share your thoughts and ideas. You might light another.

candle

Wellness Wednesday: Compassion Fatigue

This is my first wellness post since the new Bar Assistance Program came into existence on April 1.  An aspect of BAP is me providing resources related to well-being in the legal profession.

Today, I intend to do so in two ways.

First, you should have Brian Cuban on your radar.  An attorney, Brian has long been a leading voice on issues related to lawyer wellness, including addiction and recovery. I recommend his book The Addicted Lawyer: Tales of the Bar, Booze, Blow and Redemption. Or, if an entire book (gasp!) isn’t your thing, I recommend Brian’s interview with Rocket Matter and this piece that he wrote for Above The Law.

Second, a few days ago on LinkedIn, Brian shared an article that appears in Canadian Lawyer: How compassion fatigue affects lawyers and what they can do about itLike Brian, compassion fatigue should be on the profession’s radar.

What is “compassion fatigue?”

The ABA has dedicated this page to the topic. Per the ABA:

“Compassion fatigue is the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effect of exposure to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life.

It’s important to note that compassion fatigue is different than burnout.  While burnout is predictable, building over time and resulting in work dissatisfaction, compassion fatigue has a narrower focus.  Someone affected by compassion fatigue may be harmed by the work they do, experiencing intrusive imagery and a change in world-view.

Compassion fatigue is also known as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, second hand shock and secondary stress reaction.  Regardless of the term used, compassion fatigue affects those in the helping professions, including the legal profession, and is treatable. Treatment of compassion fatigue may prevent the development of a more serious disorder.”

It was only a few years ago that I first encountered compassion fatigue insofar as it relates to the legal profession. At the time, I was sitting on the Vermont Commission on the Well-Being of the Legal Profession.  Chairing the Commission’s Judge’s Committee, then-judge Cohen raised the issue.  Then, when we published the Commission’s State Action Plan, the Judge’s Committee recommended that we “make available secondary trauma resources for judges, lawyers, court personnel and jurors.”

My sense is that compassion fatigue has spread within the profession during the pandemic.  While I’m no professional, I don’t doubt that each of us has only so much to give.  Thus, not immune to the personal stress and anxiety that has affected everyone over the past year, legal professionals may have grown weary of helping others with theirs.  Truth be told, I’ve had that exact feeling on occasion.

That’s why I think it’s important to understand that compassion fatigue is a thing.  And that it’s a thing that impacts legal professionals.

So, take a minute to review the ABA’s compassion fatigue site  or the Canadian Lawyer article that Brian shared.  Each includes tips on how to recognize the signs & symptoms of compassion fatigue, the risks of not addressing it, and steps to take in response. In particular, I’m a fan of the section in the Canadian Lawyer article sub-titled “How to combat compassion fatigue.”  It reminds me of the attempts that Jennifer Emens-Butler and I have made to remind lawyers that it’s important to find time for things other than the law.

Make time for what matters to you.  Self-compassion will help recharge your efforts to help others.

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Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Wellness Wednesday: A message from Justice Eaton

Jessica Burke: “Well People Do”

Wellness Wednesday: Schitt$ Creek and Paddles

Wellness Wednesday: Be Kind to Lawyers

Civility Matters. Especially Now.

Coping with COVID-19 Related Stress & Anxiety

Wellness Wednesday: Unplug

Well-Being is an Aspect of Competence

Wellness Wednesday: Survival Skills

Wellness Wednesday: Make time for what (and who) matters

Wellness Wednesday: Risk & Response (this one is about the report I mentioned from the Virginia State Bar)

Do summer your way

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Alison, Shireen, Samantha, and Alison

Reach Out, Check In

Wellness Wednesday: Mentor Someone

Wellness Wednesday: Joan Loring Wing

Wellness Wednesday: Law Day & Pro Bono

Get your sleep

Take a Chance on Being Nice

Attorney Wellness: We’ve Only Just Begun

Be Kind to a Lawyer Today

Be Nice to Someone Today

Wellness v. Well-Being

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Molly Gray

Wellness Wednesday: Judge Garland & My Cousin Vinny

Shakespeare, Pink Floyd and Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: You are not an impostor

Wellness Wednesday: “N O” is “O K”

Wellness Wednesday: Stop it!

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Jeff Messina

Lawyers Helping Lawyers Part 2

Lawyers Helping Lawyers: Keep it on the front burner

Lawyer Well-Being: a call to action

Anxiety, Stress & Work-Life Balance for Lawyers

Make time for what matters

Lawyer Wellness: resolve to find 6 minutes for yourself

108 is way too many

Workplace Happiness

Make Wellness a Habit

A pledge by legal employers to focus on lawyer well-being

Legal Ethics & the Water Cooler

Wellness Wednesday: Island Vines

Wellness Wednesday: on ponds, puffery and paltering

Wellness Wednesday: Neil Diamond, the Lock Screen, and National Mental Health Day for Law Students