Five Best Practices for Law Firm Wellness

Celebrate even small wins.

Wellness should be your watchword as you navigate your way through the new normal.

If you don’t take care of your mental well-being, things could quickly go south for you, your clients and your practice.

Mental health is always a concern in the legal profession, where we have staggering rates of depression, substance abuse and burnout,” says California ethics lawyer Megan Zavieh in this post for Attorney at Work. “This year, mental health problems have been compounded by working-from-home issues, practices sinking under the weight of unexpected economic hardship — and, for some, health challenges — plus the stress of trying to shift everything in our lives to a new way of working and living.”

Each year, Zavieh publishes a checklist of best practices and ethics tips for attorneys. Usually, her list covers familiar territory like fee agreements, documentation, and docket control. Her latest list is different. It focuses entirely on wellness.

Below are 5 items on her wellness checklist.

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Five Best Practices for Wellness in Your Law Office

1. Celebrate the Wins. “When you look back over the year, rather than focusing on what went wrong, look at what went right. Did you implement a new system that overcame a challenge for you? Help a client through a problem they never expected to have? Find a new niche in your practice? Simply keep the doors open? Make a list and celebrate what you accomplished.”

2. Recognize Your Team. “More than ever, people need a little pick-me-up right now. Even if you are a true solo, there must be people who are part of your team: family and friends who support and encourage you, your mail carrier, your favorite barista, the Amazon delivery person (I feel like we are on a first-name basis this year). All contribute to your daily work life. Take a moment to tell them that they made a difference for you.”

3. Adjust Your Goals. “If you started 2020 with a list of goals you intended to accomplish, no doubt you should have adjusted them by about June. Even if your practice was a raging success this year, so many variables changed. One of my goals was to spend fewer nights away from home — well, that one I rocked! But another was to speak at more conferences — an obvious fail. And that is OK. Your year-end review of the year’s goals should include an adjustment to them and a realistic evaluation for next year.”

4. Make New Goals for a Post-COVID World. “At the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of minimalism tips included asking yourself this question: ‘When things go back to normal, and regular activities are once again available, which ones do I want to add back?’ This is a great time to think about what you would like your post-COVID world to look like. If we intentionally craft it, it can have the best of our old life and the positives that have come amid the coronavirus.”

5. Take Time Off. “It is always important to take a break from work for your mental health. But this year the line between work and home hasn’t just been blurred — it’s been obliterated. There are positives to that, but a lot of negatives too, especially if working from home was new to you. Block some time on your calendar, tell your receptionist you will be out, set your autoresponder to say you are out of the office, and close the office door (whether figurative or literal) for a true break from work before 2021 ramps up.”

Source: “Your Wellness Checklist,” Attorney at Work, Megan Zavieh (quotes are from her post).

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