On Wellness Wednesday, a well-being reminder as the holiday season begins: be well & let others be well.

The holiday season is upon us. For many, it’ll include gatherings with colleagues, friends, and family. Often, those gatherings will involve alcohol.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I look forward to festive get togethers over drinks.

But what we must remember is that not everybody does. 

For some, well-being is adversely affected by the stress associated with both the holidays and gatherings that include alcohol. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago by the ABA Journal’s Stressed about holiday parties? Think about skipping them, says lawyer in recovery.  The post features tips from Laurie Bresden, a lawyer who is in recovery.  Bresden urges other lawyers in recovery to “consider what you want your celebrations to look like, rather than meeting everyone else’s expectations.”

Bresden tips aren’t limited to lawyers who are in recovery.  This paragraph caught my attention

  • “According to Bresden, her office gets many calls from lawyers in recovery who are stressed about navigating holiday work events in which alcohol is served. For those planning the parties, she suggests serving alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages in the same types of glasses, so nondrinkers don’t feel awkward, including having mocktails on the menu and respecting boundaries when employees don’t attend the gatherings.”

My attention was caught because I’ve tried to convey a similar message. 

In this 2016 post, I wrote:

  • “The holiday season is approaching. Even if it weren’t, let’s remember to accept ‘no thank you’ as a perfectly legitimate answer when a colleague is asked if they want a drink.”

Back then, a Vermont lawyer let me know that at parties, whether holiday or not, the lawyer and the lawyer’s partner use plastic cups to serve all drinks.  That way, nobody knows what others are drinking, thereby saving someone who is not drinking alcohol from having to explain why.

In 2018, I posted “N.O. is O.K.” I’ll repeat part of what I wrote then:

As bar counsel, I’ve dealt with lawyers who’ve told me that one of the keys to their wellness is to avoid situations that will tempt them to make, if you will, ‘unwell decisions.’  For example, some avoid events that include alcohol.

I totally get it.

But many of them want to be social.  They want to go to bar events or holiday parties.  They want to see people, chat, have fun.  The interaction helps their wellness.

What they don’t want is to deal with comments like what? did you quit for the holidays? nobody likes a quitter!!’

I know this is preachy.  But my message is this: when someone says ‘no’ to a drink at a holiday party, don’t object.

I’m no expert.  But, on well-being, I believe in “be well and let be well.”  Whatever works for you – attending holiday gatherings or avoiding them – do that.  If you attend, participate in a way that is conducive to your well-being, whether that means having a drink or not.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing to drink responsibly.  Nor is there any need to comment upon, call attention to, or object to someone who chooses not to drink at all.

Enjoy the holidays, let others enjoy theirs.

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Wellness Wednesday: Make Well-Being an Expectation in the Attorney-Client Relationship.

Today, I was perusing the Institute for Well-Being in Law’s website.  I found this post by Ben Carpenter:

Making Well-Being an Expectation in Attorney-Client Relationships

Whether here or at seminars, I often mention the importance of setting reasonable client expectations at the outset of the representation.  This post is representative of the message. 

In addition, I’ve used wellness presentations to urge lawyers to set boundaries with clients and opposing counsel.  When I do, I remind lawyers that the duties of diligence and communication are modified by the word “reasonable[1],” and that there are times when it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to clients and opposing counsel:

  • Tomorrow.
  • After your kid’s game, recital, or event.
  • After you finish lunch.
  • After you get back from the short walk you’re on.
  • After you finish the email in which you’re responding to a different client or opposing counsel.

What I’ve never thought to do is to suggest to lawyers that the expectations they set with clients include an expectation as to how lawyer and client will treat each other.  What a great idea!

Back to Carpenter’s post . . .

. . . the title conveys it all: setting expectations with clients includes setting expectations about how you’re going to treat each other.  I did not pay Attorney Carpenter to author the post, but I endorse the message.

While I recommend the entire post, I want to focus on three paragraphs.

First:

  • “There is a stigma around well-being, as if adopting behaviors that support well-being may compromise a lawyer’s ability to provide exceptional service. Well-being is a responsibility, not a luxury, that is an integral component of our collective ability to satisfy our duty of competency.  Adopting behaviors that support well-being is not only necessary to the profession, but it makes us better lawyers.”

Yes! In the introduction to last week’s quiz, I wrote that civility is not weakness. Looking out for your own well-being isn’t either. It’s a responsibility that will make you healthier and better equipped to honor your duties to your clients. In other words, and to paraphrase Carpenter, well-being isn’t a luxury, it’s an aspect of competence.

Next:

  • “In today’s environment of flexible work arrangements and ubiquitous communication devices, there is no single set of rules or standards that work for everyone. It is easy to lose boundaries, and to assume that having the ability to connect means we should always be connected.  Therefore, in these times, it is more important than ever to discuss and confirm expectations for availability and how to connect.”

Yes!  Just because we can connect doesn’t mean that we must connect.  As I mentioned above, the duties of diligence and communication are modified by the word “reasonable.”

Finally, the coach and runner in me loved this sentence:

  • “Ultimately, we hope that the guidelines will become forgotten and replaced by adopted habits and practices that have become part of our culture and relationships.”

We must make well-being a habit. And habits don’t happen overnight. They only develop as a result of a commitment to repetition.  We used to tell our players that we weren’t going to work on things until they remembered them, we were going to work on things until it was impossible for the players to forget them.  That’s a habit. And, as I blogged long ago, I agree with Carpenter that we should strive to make wellness a habit.

In closing, set reasonable expectations with clients, including expectations that foster the well-being of all involved in the relationship.


[1] V.R.Pr.C. 1.3 requires a lawyer to “act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”  V.R.Pr.C. 1.4(a)(3) requires a lawyer to “keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.”  V.R.Pr.C. 1.4(a)(4) requires a lawyer to “promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.”

Today, I was perusing the Institute for Well-Being in Law’s website.  I found this post by Ben Carpenter:

Making Well-Being an Expectation in Attorney-Client Relationships

Whether here or at seminars, I often mention the importance of setting reasonable client expectations at the outset of the representation.  This post is representative of the message. 

In addition, I’ve used wellness presentations to urge lawyers to set boundaries with clients and opposing counsel.  When I do, I remind lawyers that the duties of diligence and communication are modified by the word “reasonable[1],” and that there are times when it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to clients and opposing counsel:

  • Tomorrow.
  • After your kid’s game, recital, or event.
  • After you finish lunch.
  • After you get back from the short walk you’re on.
  • After you finish the email in which you’re responding to a different client or opposing counsel.

What I’ve never thought to do is to suggest to lawyers that the expectations they set with clients include an expectation as to how lawyer and client will treat each other.  What a great idea!

Back to Carpenter’s post . . .

. . . the title conveys it all: setting expectations with clients includes setting expectations about how you’re going to treat each other.  I did not pay Attorney Carpenter to author the post, but I endorse the message.

While I recommend the entire post, I want to focus on three paragraphs.

First:

  • “There is a stigma around well-being, as if adopting behaviors that support well-being may compromise a lawyer’s ability to provide exceptional service. Well-being is a responsibility, not a luxury, that is an integral component of our collective ability to satisfy our duty of competency.  Adopting behaviors that support well-being is not only necessary to the profession, but it makes us better lawyers.”

Yes! In the introduction to last week’s quiz, I wrote that civility is not weakness. Looking out for your own well-being isn’t either. It’s a responsibility that will make you healthier and better equipped to honor your duties to your clients. In other words, and to paraphrase Carpenter, well-being isn’t a luxury, it’s an aspect of competence.

Next:

  • “In today’s environment of flexible work arrangements and ubiquitous communication devices, there is no single set of rules or standards that work for everyone. It is easy to lose boundaries, and to assume that having the ability to connect means we should always be connected.  Therefore, in these times, it is more important than ever to discuss and confirm expectations for availability and how to connect.”

Yes!  Just because we can connect doesn’t mean that we must connect.  As I mentioned above, the duties of diligence and communication are modified by the word “reasonable.”

Finally, the coach and runner in me loved this sentence:

  • “Ultimately, we hope that the guidelines will become forgotten and replaced by adopted habits and practices that have become part of our culture and relationships.”

We must make well-being a habit. And habits don’t happen overnight. They only develop as a result of a commitment to repetition.  We used to tell our players that we weren’t going to work on things until they remembered them, we were going to work on things until it was impossible for the players to forget them.  That’s a habit. And, as I blogged long ago, I agree with Carpenter that we should strive to make wellness a habit.

In closing, set reasonable expectations with clients, including expectations that foster the well-being of all involved in the relationship.

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts


[1] V.R.Pr.C. 1.3 requires a lawyer to “act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”  V.R.Pr.C. 1.4(a)(3) requires a lawyer to “keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.”  V.R.Pr.C. 1.4(a)(4) requires a lawyer to “promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.”

Wellness Wednesday: Pro Bono

Today is not simply “Wellness Wednesday.” It’s WW of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week! What’s wellness got to do with pro bono?  I’m glad you asked!

Eileen Blackwood is a former president of the Vermont Bar Association and former chair of the VBA’s Pro Bono Committee. Twice a year, Eileen and I present a seminar for new lawyers.  I open by discussing professional responsibility, then Eileen Blackwood homes in on the pro bono opportunities.  Over the past few presentations, we’ve used “wellness” as segue from my presentation to Eileen’s.  Specifically, Eileen has made it a point to mention that one of the most rewarding cases of her career was one that she took pro bono.  While Eileen says it better than I can, the reward is the positive feeling that comes from having helped someone who desperately needed it.

Wellness indeed!

With that said, here are answers to common questions about pro bono & professional responsibility.

Where is/are the rule(s)?

The Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct include a section titled “PUBLIC SERVICE” that spans Rules 6.1 thru 6.5. 

What is the rule?

It’s V.R.Pr.C. 6.1.

How many hours?

Here are the first two lines of V.R.Pr.C. 6.1:

  • “Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.  A lawyer should render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.  

Do all 50 of my hours have to be pro bono, or does low bono count too?

V.R.Pr.C. 6.1 states that in fulfilling the 50 hours, lawyer should

  • “(a) provide a substantial majority of the 50 hours without fee or expectation of fee to (1) persons of limited means; or (2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of people with limited means.”

Once at a “substantial majority” of 50 hours, the rule goes on to indicate that a lawyer may provide any additional services by:

  • Delivery of legal services at no fee or a substantially reduced fee to certain types of individuals, groups and organizations.
  • Delivery of legal services to persons of limited means.
  • Participating in activities that are meant to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal provision.

Who qualifies as a “person of limited means?”

  • See, Rule 6.1, Comment [3] (“Persons eligible for legal services under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) are those who qualify for participation in programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation and those whose incomes and financial resources are slightly above the guidelines used by such organizations but nevertheless cannot afford counsel.”

My client didn’t pay, that’s pro bono, right?

  • Wrong.  Rule 6.1(a) is clear:  a “lawyer should provide substantial majority of the 50 hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee . . ..”
  • Comment [4] drives home the point: “Because services must be provided without fee or expectation of fee, the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2).  Accordingly, services rendered cannot be considered pro bono if an anticipated fee is uncollected . . ..”

I’m a government attorney, so I don’t have to do pro bono, right?

  • Wrong.  Rule 6.1 applies to all lawyers.  Comment [5], however, recognizes that government lawyers may not be able to satisfy the requirements of Rule 6.1(a) and, therefore, should be allowed to satisfy the pro bono requirement via provision of services set out in Rule 6.1(b).

Ok Mike, I’m doing pro bono work, what other rules apply?

  • ALL OF THEM!  You must be competent & diligent.  You can’t communicate with a represented party on the subject of the representation without counsel’s consent.  You can’t lie.  In short, pro bono work is not a license to act unethically.

Mike, you mentioned competence.  Given my practice area, I don’t know much about the areas of law in which there’s a need for pro bono work. Is that a problem?

Not necessarily.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.1 mandates competence. However, here is Comment [2]:

  • “A lawyer need not necessarily have special training or prior experience to handle legal problems of a type with which the lawyer is unfamiliar.  Some important legal skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems. Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge. A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a wholly novel field through necessary study. Competent representation can also be provided through the association of a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.”

The VBA often puts on trainings in areas more likely to involve pro bono work.  Many of those trainings are available in the VBA’s video library. For more information, contact Kim Velk.

Specifically referencing the Public Service rules, Comment [4] adds:

  • “A lawyer may accept representation where the requisite level of competence can be achieved by reasonable preparation.  This applies as well to a lawyer who is appointed as counsel for an unrepresented person.  See also Rule 6.2.”

What about the conflict rules?

If certain conditions are met, the conflict rules are relaxed.  See, V.R.Pr.C. 6.5.  Those conditions are:

  • The lawyer provides short-term limited legal services,
  • under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, and
  • without expectation by the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter.

If each condition is present, the conflicts rules apply only if the lawyer KNOWS of a conflict.  In other words, if the 3 conditions are met, a lawyer does not have to do a conflict check before providing the legal services.  See, V.R.Pr.C. 6.5, Comment [1] (“Such programs are normally operated under circumstances in which it is not feasible for a lawyer to systematically screen for conflicts of interest as is generally required before undertaking a representation.”

Paragraph (b) makes clear that if a lawyer who provides legal services under the specified conditions, any conflict that might result as a result of the short-term representation will not be imputed to other lawyers in the pro bono lawyer’s firm.

How can I learn about pro bono opportunities?

Mary Ashcroft is the Vermont Bar Association’s Legal Access Coordinator and is an excellent resource.  Also, here’s a list of pro & low bono programs.  Pressed for time?  Vermont Free Legal Answers is a way to provide pro bono assistance without leaving your home or office.  Finally, Sam Abel-Palmer is the Executive Director of Legal Services of Vermont.   LSV collaborates with the VBA to run the Vermont Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Thank you for considering pro bono.  And remember, it can be a source of wellness, for both you and the client.

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Wellness Wednesday: Don’t Stresslax

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to discuss wellness.  Today’s topic: tips on recognizing and responding to anxiety.

I’ll cut straight to the chase: I recommend The Legal Burnout Solution: How to Identify and Manage Attorney AnxietyIt’s by Cynthia Sharp and Rebecca Howlett and appears in the latest report from the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.

I’ve mentioned Cynthia before.  I first encountered her through her work with The Sharper Lawyer. Later, I heard nothing but rave reviews for a presentation Cynthia did for the Bennington County Bar Association. Finally, I was honored that Cynthia referenced me in a post she did for the ABA Journal on how best to respond to negative online reviews.

A few years ago, Cynthia and Becky Howlett started The Legal Burnout Solution.  They’re doing good and important work.  Their piece in the GPSolo report shares great strategies on identifying and managing stress.  While I urge people to read the entire article, I’m going to highlight a paragraph that resonated with me.

I’ve often used this space to remind legal professionals to make time for interests outside the law. When Jennifer Emens-Butler was with the Vermont Bar Association, she did the same via her Pursuits of Happiness column in the VBA Journal. Well, now we can add Cynthia and Becky to the chorus — and we can introduce a new word to our lexicon!  Here’s one of their tips to manage anxiety:

  • “Have fun! On average, children laugh 300 times a day, whereas an adult generally laughs only 17 times per day. Often as attorneys, we over-prioritize our work and under-prioritize play, even to the point of ‘stresslaxing’ where we worry about what we ‘should be’ doing when we are trying to have fun. Consciously set aside time to do activities that bring you fulfillment and joy and make you laugh! Channel your inner child and do the things that brought you joy when you were younger—have a water balloon fight, go to an amusement park, play in the mud. Whatever the activity may be, give yourself permission to relax and play and just be in the moment. Laughter is medicine!”

They are so right! And I LOVE the term “stresslaxing.”

I’m terrible at practicing what I preach.  At countless CLEs and in numerous blog posts, I’ve urged legal professionals to consider not just time away from work, but time that they’re fully away from work.  For example, setting and honoring boundaries, or, making sure that vacation includes a vacation from devices.  Alas, not only do I rarely take time off, when I do, I reflexively, or perhaps compulsively, respond to work matters that, in a vacuum, I know can wait until I’m back. 

Why?  Because I constantly worry that I should be available and responding.  That’s stresslaxing. It’s not good and I know I’m not alone.

Instead, all of us should heed Cynthia and Becky’s advice:

Don’t stresslax! 

When making time for something outside the law, fully commit to enjoying it!  It is perfectly okay to do so and it is exactly what you are supposed to be doing when you’re there. Also, for you supervisors, strive to ensure that your employees know that it’s not only okay to be fully away, it’s healthy and it’s expected.

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

The Wellbeing Week Wrap-up and my self-report of significant bread making violations.

Last week was Wellbeing Week in Law (WWIL). One of the goals was to encourage legal professionals to take action to improve their well-being. I’m here today to recognize the members of Vermont’s legal community who did exactly that.  And, sadly, I’m also here to self-report significant violations of the bread making code of conduct.

But first, I want to share a comment that, to me, perfectly captures the importance of tending to our own well-being.

Patty Turley is General Counsel for the Vermont State Colleges. I met Patty many years ago when we served together on the Board of Bar Examiners. Here’s part of Patty’s reply to the email I sent encouraging participation in WWIL:

  • “Hi Mike – This was such a good reminder for wellness!  It was a crazy busy week; they are all busy but this one was exceptionally crazy.   At first I thought: “It is such a busy week, I don’t have time to take this on.”  Then I decided to switch my thinking: “It is such a busy week, it is more important than ever to make time for wellness.”  It worked.  I often did 2-3 shorter activities (walks, yoga, strength-training, meditation, reading for pleasure) each day.”

Let me repeat Patty’s words:

  • “It is such a busy week, it is more important then ever to make time for wellness.”

Patty – you nailed it! Our new catchphrase should be “Busy? Then now’s the time to make time for wellness.”

Okay, turning to the bread.

During WWIL, Wednesday’s theme was Intellectual Wellbeing. The focus was on the importance of continually challenging ourselves to engage and grow intellectually. To mark the day, I shared this video of myself making bread.

The video ends before I sliced or tasted the bread. So, it fails to reveal that the final product was not fit for consumption. Therefore, this morning I recorded this video in which I self-report multiple violations of the culinary canons. In mitigation, and as this picture proves, my second attempt went much better than the first.

IMG_6838

Finally, here’s a list of the members of Vermont’s legal community who let me know that they participated in WWIL. If I forgot to include you, I apologize. Message me and I’ll update the list.

To wrap up Wellbeing Week in Law, here’s to hoping that our participation continues beyond the confines of the week itself.

Indeed, let’s make well-being a habit.

2022 Wellbeing Week in Law Participants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Made Bread

Happy Hump Day!  I have big news to report.

First, my sense is that many in the Vermont legal community are participating in Well-Being Week in Law.  And now I have proof!  Congratulations to the folks at Dunkiel Saunders!  Yesterday, Melinda Siel let me know that, over lunch, the firm had a lively game of Viking Chess on the lawn and that they’re doing something related to wellness each day this week.  This makes Dunkiel Saunders the first Vermont firm or office to reach out to me to confirm participation!  True to my word, I’m here to launch them to internet fame! If you or your office/firm is participating, let me know.  I’ll post the entire list on Saturday.

And that’s not the only big news!

I am here to report that, yesterday, I made bread.  The official video chronicling the endeavor is here:

Now, I know what you’re asking yourself.  “Self, why is it big news that Mike made bread?”  Fear not my friends! I have the answer.

Today’s theme is Intellectual Well-Being.  Continuing to grow intellectually is an important component of our overall well-being. We should strive to grow both at work and in our personal lives.

For instance, at work, you might resolve to wade into a new area of law. Or, take a pro bono case in an area that you don’t typically practice. Remember, even if the area is new to you, the person you’ll help is far better off with your assistance than they would be if left to their own devices.

Similarly, in your personal life, stagnation doesn’t do much for well-being. We need new interests and challenges.  To that end, on this day during last year’s Well-Being Week in Law, I resolved to learn how to make bread.  It took me 364 days to get around to it, but I did it!  Many thanks to the First Brother for his assistance, and to Nicole Killoran and Heather Devine for supporting this project from the start and checking-in, both periodically and gently, on my, umm, “progress.”

That’s the news for today. If you’re interested participating in Well-Being Week in Law, here’s an activity guide.  Or, like Dunkiel Saunders and me, find your own thing.  After all, and as we know, well-being is personal.

As always, be well and may the 4th be with you.

Consider participating in Well-Being Week in Law. Nothing is too small . . . and there are prizes!

Next week is Well-Being Week in Law. Conceived and promoted by the Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL), the event’s goals are “to raise awareness about mental health and to encourage action and innovation across the profession to improve well-being.”

I encourage you, your co-workers, and your colleagues to participate, even if only by doing something that might seem “small” or “inconsequential.”  Indeed, as we know too well, when it comes to improving the profession’s well-being, there is no step too small to help. For example, sending a “thank you” note. Surely, someone at your office has time (and reason) to express gratitude at some point next week!

Of course, Well-Being Week in Law features many additional activities and opportunities to promote well-being. Legal professionals can participate as individuals, with a friend/colleague/co-worker, or as an entire office/firm. There’s something for everyone!

And speaking of everyone, you lawyers, don’t forget to include your non-lawyer staff. They are much a part of the profession as lawyers!

Each day focuses on a different aspect of wellness:

Each Day

IWIL’s participation guide includes dozens of suggestions for each day, breaking the suggestions into things to read, things to watch or listen to, and things to do.  For instance, on Monday, legal professionals might

Or, for the legal professional who has an Apple Watch, Vermont lawyer Tammy Heffernan has offered to host a month-long challenge associated with well-being. Tammy set it up so that there are both team and individual challenges. Instructions on how to sign-up are at the end of this letter.

There are other ways to participate in Well-Being Week.

The event coincides with May being Mental Health Awareness Month. So, next week, you and your co-workers might consider the daily challenges in the 31-Day Mental Health Challenge.

In addition, I plan to host virtual discussions on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The discussions will begin at noon and focus on the day’s theme. All are welcome. Each morning, I’ll post a link to join that day’s discussion on my blog. The videos I recorded last year provide a flavor of the discussions.

Again, the participation guide is chock full of ideas.

Finally, well-being is not “one size fits all.’  It’s personal. As the participation guide states:

Pick & Choose to Fit Your Needs

WWIL is designed so that people and organizations can participate in any way that fits their goals and capacities. If you want to participate in multiple things every day, that’s great. But also feel free to select only a few things over the entire week that match your priorities.

As I mentioned, there’s something for everyone. I encourage you to find what works for you and to encourage your colleague and co-workers to do the same.

Oh! One last thing. With participation comes reward(s)!

IWIL is offering legal professionals a chance to win prizes by completing the 2022 Well-Being Week in Law Participation Survey.  Or, you can show your commitment to well-being by participating in the Social Media Challenge.  Finally, I will use my blog and Twitter account to mention any member of Vermont’s legal community who lets me know that they, their co-workers, or their office/firm participated, even if just barely, in Well-Being Week.

Thank you for considering ways that you and your co-workers might participate in 2022 Well-Being Week in Law.

**********************************************************************

P.S. – thank you Tammy!

APPLE WATCH TEAM CHALLENGE

”VT Attorney Well Being Team Challenge ”

First, download Challenges: https://challengesapp.app.link/download

Once you have the app, enter invite code: ‘cheu’ or tap on the link below to join:

https://sync.challenges.app/invite?eligibilitycode=cheu

APPLE WATCH INDIVIDUAL CHALLENGE

“VT Attorney Individual Challenge”

First, download Challenges: https://challengesapp.app.link/download

Once you have the app, enter invite code: ‘kfdk’ or tap on the link below to join:

https://sync.challenges.app/invite?eligibilitycode=kfdk

Related Resources

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

 

Here’s how Vermont’s legal professionals can plan for Well-Being Week in Law.

Well-Being Week in Law begins on May 2.  Driven by the efforts of the folks at the Institute for Well-Being in Law (IWIL), the week is designed to raise awareness by encouraging all in the profession to engage in activities that promote well-being.

There are many ways to get involved.

Each day has a different theme, with each theme a component of wellness.

WBW-Infograohic-11_2020-300x256

Last year, I hosted daily virtual meetups over the lunch hour.  There was no agenda.  Rather, we shared thoughts and tips related to the day’s theme.  My posts and videos on the project are here.  I intend to reprise the discussions this year.

There’s also A LOT more that folks can do. I encourage legal professionals, legal organizations, and individuals within the profession to get involved.  Here are some resources from IWIL’s website:

I’ve not yet finalized the activities I’ll promote in addition to the daily discussions.  I hope to do so next week.  Until then, if you, your firm, or your organization is interested in planning even a single activity, let me know if you need assistance or want me to stop by.  I will if I can. Also, if you’re interested in learning what others intend to do, IWIL is hosting a series of free planning sessions.  For more information on how to register for the planning sessions, go here.

Let’s continue to promote the well-being of Vermont’s legal profession and its members.

 Related Resources

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Wellness Wednesday: 40 tips, with at least 1 for everyone.

When it comes to wellness and well-being, the legal profession has made progress.  The topic is now openly discussed, well, everywhere.

Whether at last week’s VBA Mid-Year Meeting, the lunch-time check-ins I’ve organized through the Bar Assistance Program, the VBA COVID-19 Committee’s conversation groups, or even something seemingly so small as the email I received yesterday, soon after a completing an in-house CLE for a local firm.  The CLE had covered a wide variety of issues related to legal ethics, but the follow-up email was, basically, “Mike, thank you.  How can our firm do more on wellness?”

Good question.

Despite the progress, it can be hard to do more, or even to get started.  One reason is that there is so much information so readily available that it can be overwhelming.  In my opinion, the trick is to approach the task as you would any other that, at first, seems daunting: one step at a time.

The ABA Journal recently published 40 wellness tips to help lawyers cope with job pressureI’m usually not a fan of lists that purport to show the way to faster marathons, stronger relationships, or whatever.  But I’m a huge fan of the ABA’s 40 wellness tips.

Each is from a different legal professional and each is easy to understand.  Not to be trite, but among the 40 tips, there’s one for everyone.  Whether beginning the journey to wellness or taking the next step, find the one that works for you and go from there.

wellness

Related Resources

Previous Wellness Wednesday Posts

Wellness Wednesday: Mentoring

It’s been a bit since my last Wellness Wednesday post.  And, since I already blogged once today, I’m reluctant to do so again.  However, in that this morning’s was about trust accounting, my personal well-being requires a new post to cleanse my palate of my least favorite topic.

So, let’s consider mentoring as an aspect of well-being.

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I’ve long thought that mentoring provides an opportunity to improve well-being. Not only for the mentee and the obvious benefits of wise guidance, but for the mentor.  In fact, a quick search reveals that I’ve posted several blogs in which I urged lawyers to consider serving as mentors.

The first was Resolve to be a Mentor, a post in which I suggested that mentoring can be traced back to the earliest recorded guidelines of attorney conduct.  Next, here and here, I used the Wellness Wednesday forum to encourage lawyers to serve as mentors. The former referenced my tribute to Joan Wing.  Very few, if any, have done more to promote the wellness and well-being of the Vermont legal profession than Joan, with her various efforts including serving as a mentor to many lawyers who still practice today.  This blogger included.

My prior posts focused on the benefits to the mentee. I’ve never been able to articulate my feeling that, at some level, helping others to find their way benefits the helper as well.  Then, today, I saw the ABA Journal’s Mentorship is not all about the menteeIt’s a great post in which Katherine Gustafson reminds us that, yes, while ‘the benefits of being mentored have been extolled in articles everywhere,” when it comes to mentoring “before you reject the idea, consider the benefits that come with such a role.” Among those benefits, wellness.

Referring to the “intrinsic rewards” associated with mentoring, Gustafson notes:

“Let’s face it, the practice of law is difficult, often frustrating, work. Even those of us who love our jobs sometimes feel burned out and unsatisfied. This burnout can affect our physical and mental health as well as our work productivity. We long for something in our daily work that satisfies our soul. Mentorship can be that magic ticket.

We have long known that helping others makes us feel good, but research by the University of Wisconsin—Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs proves it. The research concluded that helping others makes us happier. When you do something good for someone else, the pleasure centers in your brain light up and endorphins are released that give you a sensation referred to as a ‘helper’s high.’ So, taking a little bit of time out of our daily life to help a new attorney find their way in the profession can counteract some stress and negativity that naturally accompanies law practice.”

I agree!

So today I’m here to share two mentoring opportunities.

Last month, the Vermont Bar Association announced the Vermont Mentor Advice Program (VMAP).  VMAP aims to pair “experienced Vermont lawyers with new lawyers practicing in Vermont and with lawyers newly-located in Vermont.” The VBA hopes that VMAP “will be a helpful way to welcome new lawyers practicing in Vermont to the Vermont legal community, and for experienced lawyers to be able to share their knowledge and experience with new Vermont lawyers.”  For more info, including answers to frequently asked questions and an application form, please go here.

In addition, the Vermont Judiciary administers a separate program.  The Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court require newly admitted lawyers to complete a mentorship.  More information is available here.  To be added to the list of those willing to serve mentors in the admission program, please email Licensing Counsel Andy Strauss.

Note: the VBA program is NOT for mentees seeking to satisfy the admission requirement.

If I know Joan, she wouldn’t recommend one program over the other.  Rather, I expect that she’d suggest – as only Joan could “suggest” things – that you serve in BOTH.

For now, please consider one.

Here’s to being like Joan and improving our own well-being while helping others.

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