The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Rachel Schipper

The fear behind the fear of slowing down.

July 31 2013 31 July 2013

It’s no secret that the care lawyers show for their clients and colleagues (and perhaps also family and friends) pales in comparison to their self-care. 
 
The statistics on lawyer well-being are also no secret, with notable issues being addiction, depression, and substance abuse.  Burnout is just part of the work cycle when you’re a lawyer. 
 
Despite these trends that we know so well, I’ve noticed a marked hesitation among lawyers, again and again, in taking even the most conservative and incremental steps to take care of themselves.  The fear seems to be: “If I step off the mill, will I be able to get back on?” Perhaps more daunting: “Will I want to?”
 
So first things first:  I’d like to dispel the notion that feeling well requires a life overhaul (more on that below), and that taking care of yourself and being an excellent lawyer are mutually exclusive goals.  In reality, prioritizing well-being allows you to do whatever work you decide to do even better. 
 
It may be that if you shift to run on things like sleep and nutrients instead of adrenaline and coffee, you will decide to jump ship and do something else.  But that was always an option. The fact is, attrition is notoriously high in the legal profession, and the old adage that we find lawyers everywhere may mean one of two things: that legal training is a highly transferable skill; or that lawyers are prone to flee far and wide.  The fear of what’s next, however, could be keeping you from considering another option: That you might just discover a sense of calm and clarity of purpose and thinking that you didn’t know was available; and that your practice will reflect that new state beautifully. 
 
When the 11am and 4pm (and potentially 11pm) slump are memories of the past (along with the glucose-deprived brain that accompanies them), and important parts of your life – like relationships – are nourishing you rather than adding stress, you may wonder if you have acquired a superpower.  And then, you can do with it what you will.
 
Whatever you decide, the distance from here to there is much, much closer than you think.

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Rachel Schipper is a former Wall Street lawyer. She founded Curated Wellness to provide practical and innovative wellness coaching and workshops to lawyers and other skeptics in a rush.

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