Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Well-Being Strategies For Busy NC Lawyers

We all know that wellness is essential to a safe and successful practice.

The proof is all around us. Lawyers who tend to their personal and professional wellbeing and happy and productive. Lawyers who neglect self-care do so at their peril.

This year, Lawyers Mutual will present a special hour-long presentation – “Well-Being: Strategies for Finding Happiness, Satisfaction and Meaning in Your Personal and Professional Life” as part of our traveling 3-hour CLE road show.

The speaker is Will Graebe, Lawyers Mutual claims counsel and Relationship Manager:

“What do we mean by wellbeing? Is it the same thing as happiness? How can we, as individuals, improve our personal and professional well-being? What can the profession do to help foster improvement in attorney well-being? In this program, we will explore practical solutions backed by science to improve our overall well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.”

Looking for CLE that’s easy, convenient and available 24/7? Lawyers Mutual has it! Our on-demand programs help you meet your annual CLE requirements according to your schedule and from the comfort of your office. Topics include Real Estate, Cyber, Estates and Trust Planning, Legal Ethics, Law Practice Management, Technology and Wellness. Best of all, these programs are free for Lawyers Mutual insured lawyers and their paralegals and staff. On-demand CLE is yet another benefit of being a member of the Lawyers Mutual family. For close to 40 years, Lawyers Mutual has been bringing protection and peace of mind to lawyers in this state, and now on-demand CLE. Visit our website to learn more. Find out why Lawyers Mutual is the smart choice for liability coverage.


What is Wellbeing for Lawyers?

Following are excerpts from the manuscript by Lawyers Mutual claims counsel and relationship manager Will Graebe, submitted as part of the 3-hour “Put Into Practice” seminar:

As lawyers, we do not like to talk about our problems. We want to talk about other people’s problems. We are good at the latter and less comfortable with the former. We like the perception of having it all together.

If we are struggling with something emotionally or mentally, we often resist the need to ask for help from anyone else. What would people think? Would my adversaries see weakness and take advantage? Would my clients lose confidence in my ability to handle their matters? What if, as a profession, we begin to shift this dynamic? What if we made it okay to be honest? What if, rather than shaming or taking advantage of lawyers struggling with mental health issues and/ or addictive behaviors, we created a safe space for those lawyers and offered support, encouragement, and tools?

Our State Bar is already doing this through the Lawyers Assistance Program. But what might happen if law firms created wellness programs and promoted a culture of support and encouragement for mental and emotional well-being?

There are signs that we are moving in that direction. Several firms in North Carolina have created programs for well-being and mindfulness. Firm management is beginning to understand that these programs improve performance, productivity, and job satisfaction. But there is much work to be done in a profession predicated on perfection. Lawyers and law firms need the tools to implement programs and develop strategies for addressing the mental health crisis our profession is facing. This manuscript will offer practical solutions to improve the well-being of lawyers in our state.

Well-being and happiness are not prizes at the end of a road. They are not something we strive for and get and then sit back and enjoy. Well-being is a journey—a lifestyle. It’s about designing a life that creates opportunities for joy and purpose and meaning. It’s about creating a state of mind that, when bad things happen, we can be present with that experience and then move forward.

Mental health is much like physical health. To have either, we must be active participants. Sure, there is a genetic component to both physical and psychological health. But neuroscience has shown us that we can rewire our brains for improved well-being.

As individual lawyers, we have a choice. We can structure our lives to include some of the practices discussed above or let our genetics and circumstances limit what is possible.

As a profession, we also have a choice. We can support and encourage well-being programs and policies or turn a blind eye to the problem and move forward with business as usual. If we as a profession want to change, it will require law firms, the State Bar, and local bar groups to work together.

Who knows what will happen in 2024? One thing is certain: Lawyers Mutual will be here, through thick or thin, good times or bad, to provide protection and peace of mind to North Carolina law firms, just as it has been doing since 1978. In fact, we’re the only professional liability insurance carrier to have done this continuously over that time. Other companies have come and gone. We alone have stood steadfast for our state’s practitioners. Want to learn what Lawyers Mutual can do your practice? Visit our website, give us a call, or drop by our office. You’ll see why Lawyers Mutual is the smart choice for liability coverage in North Carolina.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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