Departments

Section News: ABA RPTE Deliberate Well-Being

Stress permeates our lives. That’s true whether you are an estate and trust lawyer confronting multiple deadlines while helping your clients navigate emotional issues that arise after the death of a loved one or a real estate lawyer managing demanding transactions under closing deadlines fraught with economic pressures. Work demands compound the challenges of our lives, whether raising a young family, caring for an aging parent, dealing with marital challenges, or navigating a personal health crisis.

Meanwhile, life throws up other roadblocks—a pandemic, a hotly contested election season, or economic challenge. And no one (whether we practice on our own or in a large law firm) can ignore increasing pressures to manage our practices, generate new work, bill, and collect for our legal services.

And just when we think we might get a break, another alert pops up, another message arrives, or the phone rings. It seems like the only quiet time is when we are asleep. Still, even that time can be compromised if we wake up in the middle of the night remembering some deadline or issue that needs to be addressed right away.

Although many think of lawyers as “type A” personalities who should handle all of those challenges, in reality no one is immune. But neglecting to address this stress can result in more significant problems, ranging from family breakdowns, mental illness, and addiction to chronic illness or medical emergencies.

With these considerations in mind, the Section created a task force to identify ways to help our members take a deep breath and address these challenges. That task force has decided to devote Section resources to what we will call “Deliberate Well-Being” programs and activities.

“Well-Being” involves many concepts. Countless articles published during the pandemic place renewed emphasis on finding ways to take care of your mental and physical well-being. After all, a sound physical and mental health foundation gives you the basis upon which you build the rest of your life.

“Deliberate” focuses on what we, as lawyers, tend to do best: develop and implement careful strategies aimed at achieving our client’s objectives. But translating into our own lives involves making a deliberate and sustained commitment to activities or efforts that enhance our well-being. In short, it means finding time for your own needs.

Our Deliberate Well-Being program will provide information that you can consider in finding ways to focus on caring for yourself. Those ways can involve concepts such as “mindfulness”—the use of meditative practices to “turn off” the outside world, take a deep breath, and focus on finding ways to restore inner peace. They might involve spending more time in nature—hiking, walking, or even relaxing in a park. They could include exercise: you might decide to pursue a goal like a “couch potato to 5K” program, practice yoga, take long, quiet walks, or even run a half-marathon. Some media outlets report that traditional hobbies are fading, but maybe it’s time to return our mental energy to hands-on activities like needlepoint, woodworking, oil painting, or playing a musical instrument.

In future columns, we hope to provide more information on methods to navigate personal challenges. We will ask some of our Section members to consider sharing their personal stories—whether they wish to be identified or not—so that perhaps you might learn from the experience of others. This Deliberate Well-Being effort ties into the Section’s Diversity and Inclusion objectives, as, unfortunately, those communities might confront compounded stress or might have less access to the medical, economic, or support resources required to face life’s challenges.

In short, Deliberate Well-Being is about our Section being part of your supportive community that can give you the opportunity to vent, provide you a mentor, or allow you to learn from the experiences of others. If you wish to share your personal story and explain how you overcame challenges through well-being concepts, please contact Bryan Lambert at bryan.lambert@americanbar.org. We look forward to hearing from you and finding ways to help each other.