As the legal landscape continues to shift, the word “resilience” should be top of mind in your practice.
In fact, it might be a good idea to discuss the word at your next staff meeting, write it in large letters on the whiteboard in your breakroom, and consider it for your Twitter handle.
The dictionary defines “resilience” as the ability to spring back into shape. Synonyms are strength, toughness, adaptability and hardiness.
“This year, even the resilient are challenged with COVID-19,” writes attorney and career coach James Gray Robinson for the ABA Journal. “We have to deal with disrupted routines, lockdowns, stagnated court calendars and learning how to practice law all over again. It literally has been a year of teaching dogs new tricks. The question is whether we are flexible and resilient enough to take advantage of the new opportunities that are emerging.”
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Many lawyers enter the profession with little if any training in resiliency, says Robinson in his ABA Journal piece.Maybe they’ve had success at every previous stage of their life. They haven’t had a pressing need to develop the “ability to spring back into shape.”
COVID has changed all that. Now resiliency is required for all practicing lawyers.
The good news, Robinson says, is that resilience can be learned. It’s like a muscle, he says, which grows stronger with practice.
Here are some highlights from his article (all quotes are his):
- Resilience is a team effort. “Elite professional athletes rely on coaches, trainers, counselors, friends and family to excel. Lawyers should do the same.”
- Resilience is a component of wellness. “Resilience requires a strong foundation of balanced physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.”
- Resilience is enhanced by having fun. “One of the first things to go while under stress and anxiety is the fun factor. Most lawyers would not characterize the practice of law as fun. It is rewarding, certainly, but with all the stress and anxiety, the fun part of it is often overlooked.”
- Resilience is strengthened by serving others. “The altruistic basis of law is to help people. The more we serve, the more we will be rewarded.”
- Resilience is boosted by feeding your soul. “A steady diet of law practice can be pretty lean. Listening to the problems of your clients, day in and day out, and nothing else, can actually cause a traumatic response similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Listen to music, watch an empowering movie, go outside or meditate. Do things that are fulfilling outside of practicing law.”
- Resilience grows by taking breaks from the law. “When we take breaks—5 to 10 minutes—we can increase our performance. It is counterproductiveto focus on one thing 24/7, day after day. We will crash and burn.”
What about you? What steps are you taking to maintain resiliency in these ever-changing times?
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.