Attorneys and other legal professionals are known for a lot of things…and wellness has not traditionally been one of them. It’s time for California legal professionals to start taking advantage of more wellness resources.
In recent years, the ABA and other professional organizations have begun to sit up and take notice when it comes to the absence of wellness in the legal profession.
And, to the credit of the entire profession, things are changing.
Today, terms like wellness, mental health, recovery, sobriety, vacation, well-being, and assistance are all commonplace within legal industry lexicon.
In celebration of that, we thought we’d put together a list of the top wellness resources for California’s hard-working legal professionals.
#1: California Lawyers Association Health & Wellness Repository
This section of the CLA website has a wealth of information and resources for legal professionals that promote getting – and staying – well.
Here, for example, you’ll find links to numerous events, webinars, and articles discussing wellness. There are also invitations to participate in things like virtual vacations, wellness studies, and even a “Wellbeing Week in Law.”
The site is curated by the CLA Health & Wellness Committee. Its mission is to “provide resources and content that support attorney and law student wellness, including general health, mental health, and problematic substance use.”
It’s nice to see that when it comes to well-being, the California Lawyers Association is tackling the issue head-on.
#2: Colap Cafe
The Colap Cafe is a fairly simple newsletter from the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.
What’s nice about it is that it provides a sort of one-stop shopping experience for learning about nationwide efforts via lawyer assistance programs to enhance well-being within the legal community.
On the site, you can learn about new initiatives, events, films, and other efforts all aimed at attorney wellness on a national scale.
As such, it’s a great place for local and regional wellness advocates to go for inspiration when creating resources for their local professionals.
#3: A little light reading on law firm positivity
All the stress that swirls around law firms can make them bastions of negativity. Fortunately, author Anne Brafford, who holds graduate-level degrees in law and applied psychology, has long been focusing on ways to change all that.
Her seminal work, titled Building the Positive Law Firm: The Legal Profession at its Best, outlines a framework for turning law firms into institutions brimming with positivity.
This is important at a time when the young professionals entering the legal industry have rejected the old, fire-and-brimstone management methods of the past. These up-and-coming leaders are insistent on things like work-life balance.
In light of this sweeping change in attitude, Ms. Brafford’s methods for creating well workplaces may actually catch on.
#4: Los Angeles Lawyer Well-Being Project
The Los Angeles Lawyer Well-Being Project is a sidearm of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Its mission is to provide “resources, programs, and outreach information about substance abuse and mental health issues and focuses on all aspects of lawyer well-being that help [them] maintain and thrive: Emotional, Social, Physical, Spiritual, Intellectual, Occupational.”
They do this by, among other things, hosting free CLE programs on wellness issues that impact attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals.
The Well-Being Project also provides links to resources for specific communities within the legal community, such as LGBTQ+ lawyers and senior lawyers. Check it out — there may be something that speaks to you from your unique perspective.
#5: Wellness Wednesdays & beyond with the San Diego Bar
The San Diego Bar Association didn’t invent Wellness Wednesdays (many organizations across many industries now observe this weekly ritual) but they sure have put their own spin on it.
In fact, the SD Bar hosts a mindfulness meditation on the second Wednesday of each month, which is something every legal professional should try at least once. Meditation is one little habit that can dramatically improve your wellbeing.
Like other local bar associations, the San Diego Bar also hosts numerous events, CLEs, and other programs aimed at getting legal professionals to live their best lives.
#6: The Institute for Well-being in the Law
The Institute for Well-being in the Law has a great genesis story. As they tell it, “while attending the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, leaders of three national organizations commandeered an empty conference room and committed to the creation of a movement that would transform the well-being of the legal system.”
They did this, they claim, in response to the negative reports released earlier that year on the number of attorneys struggling with things like depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Today, they are a national organization “dedicated to the betterment of the legal profession by focusing on a holistic approach to well-being.”
Check out their website for endless resources on these topics, including links to a podcast they produce called The Path to Well-being in Law.
#7: ABA reading list on lawyer wellness
Just in case you can’t find the precise wellness material you need on the above websites, check out this comprehensive reading list maintained by the American Bar Association.
The articles come from a vast array of sources and include discussions on all the critical wellness topics, including work-life balance, mindfulness, mental illness, addiction, and more.
#8: Destination CLE courses
Sometimes, no matter how hard you lean into practices like meditation, gratitude, or exercise, you still just want to get the heck away from it all.
Nonetheless, many of us feel extremely guilty walking away from our practices for a week or more.
So, how about a compromise between relaxation (i.e., wellness) and work?
Now you can combine a killer vacation with some serious CLE credits. Destinations include places like Ireland, Alaska, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather meet my CLE requirements in those locations than at another luncheon put on by the local bar association. Those lunches are great, but there’s definitely not a trip abroad.
#9: The Paralegal Cruise
Let’s not forget our hardworking paralegals. You need relaxation and wellness too, right?
Luckily, an outfit called “Paralegals Navigating Perilous Waters” puts on an annual cruise just for paralegals. The next scheduled cruise (happening in late April 2023) will hit Florida, Mexico, and the Bahamas.
Clearly, it’s not too late to start dropping hints all over the named partners’ workspaces within your firm.
#10: Wellness at work
Wellness should be an everyday pursuit. By building healthy practices into your workday, you’ll gradually reap the benefits and combat burnout.
One good strategy is to replace your weekly happy hours with something more inclusive. The standard happy hour can be alienating to your teammates who are in recovery, and it’s harder to make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by bar appetizers and boozy beverages.
You can also practice healthy habits right from your desk.
From simple yoga flows to quick meditations, there are lots of simple exercises and activities that you can do without getting up from your chair. Get our free printable wellness cheatsheet to remind you to move throughout the day.
No matter how you reach for health and well-being in your life, we simply encourage you to do so. It’s nice to see that so many local, state, and national organizations are embracing the wellness movement.
Now it’s just up to you to get on board.