Saving Lawyers One Breath at a Time: Mindfulness in the Law
By Jennifer Gibbs, Zelle LLP
The role of a lawyer in a democratic society is significant in that lawyers ensure that the democracy is functional and its citizens enjoy fundamental human rights. Acting as advocates and advisers, lawyers also play an important role in virtually all business transactions in this country. And yet, as critical as they are to society, lawyers are reported to be the most frequently depressed occupational group in the United States.
And while peace of mind should be enough to persuade most lawyers to at least consider a mindfulness practice, some predict that the mindfulness movement could provide the foundation for innovations in the law, (such as collaborative law and restorative justice) and “has the potential to make way for the emergence of ‘law as a healing profession and lawyers as peacemakers’ — associations that, frankly, would seem near-blasphemous to most.” With so much positive evidence of the effects of a mindfulness practice, lawyers experiencing stress, depression and anxiety should explore whether the simple (but not necessarily easy) act of breathing in and breathing out may prolong or even enhance their legal career. Mindfulness can provide not only benefits of efficacy and productivity, but enhanced well-being in a lawyer’s entire life, both private and professional.