We spend a lot of time serving the needs of clients, employees and families.
Too often we neglect to take care of ourselves.
But of course you know that already. You are deluged with self-help advice every day. The last thing you need is another article on how to lose weight, earn money and be happy forever.
Which is why a pair of recent blogposts jumped out at me. They approach the business of self-care from two different perspectives: finding peace within and reducing conflict without.
10 Tips for the Attorney’s Soul
The first is from Robert Minto, the founder and former president of Attorneys Liability Protection Society, which insures lawyers all over the country. In his long career, Minto has seen the good and bad of our profession.
He says if we treat ourselves with indifference or neglect, those around us suffer the consequences. To be a great lawyer, he believes, requires nurturing of the soul.
Here are his 10 tips for doing that:
- Plan your time. Schedule time to work, play, exercise and be with your family. Make this as much a priority as preparing for an upcoming deposition.
- Create time for family events. Clients want a lawyer who is a whole person – meaning one who has a life outside of the office.
- Get regular exercise. It yields emotional, mental and spiritual benefits.
- Make play a part of your daily routine. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – and a one-dimensional lawyer.
- Don’t take your work home. Admit it - you never open the briefcase anyway.
- Schedule vacations and long week-ends. “I don’t believe that a lawyer can take too much time off,” writes Minto. “Good balance requires both long periods (more than a week) of time away from the office and a good number of four day weekends.”
- Schedule a stay-cation. You don’t always have to go off to get away. Turn your phone off, shut down your computer and spend a day at home – or at the office – cleaning up your to-do list.
- Find time to read. Legal periodicals, court opinions and discovery documents don’t count.
- Nurture your social life. Open your perspective to the world outside the law.
- Get involved in your community. Join a service club, pound nails for Habitat for Humanity, deliver meals to the home-bound or volunteer at the local food bank.
Cutting Down on Conflict
The law is all about conflict. We represent clients in disputes. We go up against other lawyers. We get paid for winning the battle.
And yet engaging in conflict saps our energy and diverts us from more productive pursuits.
“Conflict is inevitable,” writes blogger Susan Ingram. “How we handle it is a choice.”
Here are her suggestions for handling conflict in ways that will improve – not impair – our lives:
- Be open to a different perspective. Issues are rarely black or white. Look for shades of gray in an argument or negotiation.
- Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. Saying “I” tells the other person where you are coming from. Saying “you” places blame and passes judgment.
- Focus on interests, not positions. Positions are rigid and personal. Interests are flexible and shared.
- Look forward, not back. Don’t get stuck in the past.
- Explore options together. Instead of unilaterally laying out proposed courses of action, talk about them openly.
- Listen. Active listening takes practice. It requires eye contact, feedback and empathy. It also requires you to stop talking.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
- Robert Minto, Attorneys Liability Protection Society http://www.alps411.com/blog/the-view-from-the-corner-office-2/top-10-ways-to-care-for-the-attorney-soul-v2?goback=%2Egde_1780513_member_5816574337649500160#%21
- Susan Ingram http://www.susan-ingram.com/2014/01/6-tips-for-resolving-conflicts/?goback=%2Egde_2691620_member_5828188237209812992#%21