"Law firms are starting to put a greater premium on the wellbeing of their lawyers and the overall workplace culture"
The Wellness Esquire is focused on shifting legal culture to recognize and value the connection between wellbeing and success
What is the primary objective of The Wellness Esquire?
Our legal industry is known for the poor health of its lawyers – depression, anxiety, addiction, burnout, stress-induced health problems, suicide. The Wellness Esquire is a thought leader for those lawyers and firms seeking to embrace the reality that a life prioritizing wellness leads to enhanced performance and job satisfaction.
Who are the main clients of The Wellness Esquire?
The Wellness Esquire community welcomes law students and lawyers. What brings folks to The Wellness Esquire is a desire to create a sustainable, fulfilling, and successful law career that doesn’t compromise our health.
What problems do the lawyers face when it comes to being more productive?
Lawyers deal with burnout at much higher rates than other professionals. Lawyers often work in high stress, competitive, and demanding environments, and their value is measured by hours billed rather than outcomes.
Should lawyers have more free and leisure time during their working days? Would they be more productive?
We can learn a lot from other knowledge workers. Software engineers at highly productive firms, for example, structure their schedules and meeting cadence to maximize time working in a flow state. They know that they can't multi-task and context switch. It’s well established that it can take more than 15 minutes to get back into flow after even a small interruption. Software engineers, therefore, protect 4-hour blocks of work time, and have cultural rules around when and how interruptions are permitted, freeing them up to have untraditional work schedules. Sometimes that means shorter work days, but often it means more breaks for mental health and overall productivity. Many industries encourage employees’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing by offering recreational and mind-body activities in the workplace. Lawyering should be considered amongst those industries as we are all in the creativity business.
Most law firms run on billable hours and aren't set up to maximize productivity. An hour spent burnt out may be less productive than an hour spent in flow, but it makes the same revenue for the firm. As a profession, we must change the culture that seeks to push an attorney’s hours well past the point of diminishing creativity and productivity returns. Lawyers need to be able to take short, periodic breaks throughout the day. Step away from the work and take a walk, do a few squats, meditate, hydrate, listen to music, stretch, have an energy-boosting social interaction, practice some breathing exercises, and especially while so many of us are working from home, have a quick dance party!
Are law firms increasingly concerned about the health of lawyers?
Fortunately, firms are starting to put a greater premium on the wellbeing of their lawyers and the overall workplace culture. The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being published a report in 2017 spotlighting the critical issues relative to health in the legal profession. For legal careers to be sustainable over the long-term, it’s important that we embrace wellness practices. The light is starting to get shined on this issue, but there’s much more work to do to bring this dialogue to the fore in our profession.