Mindfulness for Lawyers

Earlier this month, I was delighted to be invited by the International Criminal Court Bar Association to deliver an Introduction to Mindfulness in the Workplace session at the International Criminal Court. The session provided a unique opportunity to explain the concept of mindfulness and discuss its recognised benefits for lawyers in practice.

It seems that now, more than ever, there’s a need for the well-being of lawyers to be taken seriously and prioritised. A lawyer’s ability to manage stress, maintain focus, regulate emotions and improve sleep is key to being able to function well and thrive in the workplace. Yet, research shows there’s a long way to go to ensure the well-being of members of the legal profession.

In 2017, in the USA, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being issued a report which contained some worrying conclusions. It said the following:

To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being...[R]esearch suggests that the current state of lawyers’ health cannot support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on the public trust.
— The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being

One of the key recommendations the Task Force made was the practice of mindfulness meditation:

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that can enhance cognitive reframing (and thus resilience) by aiding our ability to monitor our thoughts and avoid becoming emotionally overwhelmed...Research has found that mindfulness can reduce rumination, stress, depression and anxiety. It can also enhance a host of competencies related to lawyer effectiveness, including increased focus and concentration, working memory, critical cognitive skills, reduced burnout, and ethical and rational decision-making...Evidence also suggests that mindfulness can enhance the sense of work-life balance by reducing workers’ preoccupation with work.
— The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being

So perhaps its time to start talking more openly about the benefits of mindfulness and how it can enhance the well-being of the individual and change the tone of our workplaces as we learn to tune in to how we look after ourselves and treat one another.

Mindfulness at Work and Home by Gillian Higgins will be published by REdDoor in September 2019. The book is a highly practical beginners’ guide to mindfulness. It’s packed with hints, tips, quotes, answers to frequently asked questions and practices which are designed to bring mindfulness into everyday life, at work and at home.

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash