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February 05, 2021 From the Editor in Chief

From the Editor in Chief

Kathleen A. Hogan

When the Family Advocate Board of Editors began planning this issue, we were enjoying a collegial in-person meeting. None of us thought twice about traveling to a distant location, working for hours in a closed room gathered around a single table, and joining colleagues for handshakes, hugs, and shared refreshments after the meeting. At that meeting, things like spotty cell phone coverage or slow internet speeds were a minor annoyance, not a major impediment. Little did we know that before this issue saw the light of day we would all have to learn, on the fly, to practice law in totally different ways as well as manage our own lives and our client relationships in circumstances none of us had imagined. On one level, the instinct to look for precedent does no good because we are in uncharted waters. However, more than ever, it is important to remember that we need to help ourselves before we can effectively help others.

Allison C. Shields Johs, who specializes in practice management, marketing, social media, and productivity coaching and consulting service for the legal community, has written “How to Work More Efficiently and Effectively.” She provides a multitude of practical tips for managing interruptions, automating tasks when possible, giving up the myth of multitasking, and much more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on workplace culture and satisfaction as people were forced to telecommute or adapt to new work environments. Now is the perfect time to reassess your work environment and the impact is has on your overall well-being, say Sheila Engelmeier and Heather Tabery in “Creating a Healthy Work Environment in a Family Law Practice.” The importance of choosing the right colleagues, maintaining personal connections and healthy boundaries, cultivating a culture of inclusion and accountability, and outsourcing employee relations to a human resources department are all discussed and more.

“One Lawyer’s Take on Lawyer Wellness” has been written by Steve Shewmaker, who imparts practical advice for avoiding information overload, managing your time, and taking care of yourself. He explains how doing so actually makes you more productive, not less.

It is certainly timely that the ABA has a Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, and we are pleased to present readers with an array of resources offered by this group and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), including the ABA Well-Being Campaign. We encourage all attorneys to download the “Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers” and for employers to consider taking the “Well-Being Pledge for Legal Employers.” CoLAP is always a resource that attorneys who may be struggling can turn to when they don’t know where else to turn.

Many of us spend much of our work lives focused on our clients’ marriages. However, Brentley Tanner addresses the question “Is Being a Lawyer and Marriage Compatible?” in his insightful article.

In “Being Evergreen: Avoiding Burnout,” Roberta Tepper explains that burnout can build up slowly over time or quickly in the first few years of law practice when student loans, grueling hours, and new pressures dominate a young lawyer’s life. She provides advice for not just making it through your legal career but thriving.

Elder law practitioner Mark Rubin likens separation and marriage dissolution cases to sibling disputes over family inheritance in his article “Secondary Trauma for the Family Advocate aka Getting Through the Days.” He gives tips for mitigating the emotional toll that practicing family law can have on the practitioner, especially during the already stressful COVID-19 pandemic.

Well-being goes beyond our emotional and physical well-being and extends to our financial health as well. Family law practitioners, in particular, who are so often focused on the financial needs of their clients and their families, can begin to neglect their own finances. In “Personal Financial Health,” Cynthia Sharp provides guidance for taking charge of your personal financial health through sound estate, retirement, and law practice succession strategies.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Dana Cogan explains how emotionally charged domestic relations cases can turn dangerous for the unsuspecting or unprepared lawyer and the staff when a client poses a threat in his article “The Angry Client: Keeping Yourself and Your Staff Safe.” Fortunately, he offers several steps family law practitioners can take to prevent volatile situations from arising in the first place and advice on how to diffuse them if they do.

The disproportionate rates of mental health and substance use issues among attorneys are well-documented. In her article “The Impaired Lawyer,” Ashley Oldham addresses difficult questions such as what signs an impaired lawyer might show, how might the impairment lead to ethical traps, disciplinary proceedings, or malpractice claims, and what obligations the impaired lawyer’s colleagues have to intervene.

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Kathleen A. Hogan is a principal with McGuane and Hogan, P.C., in Denver, Colorado, and Editor in Chief of Family Advocate.