- Awareness—First, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma in yourself and in your colleagues. This can be accomplished by providing training to court personnel that identifies the stressors, symptoms, and techniques for preventing or addressing vicarious trauma by building resilience. This type of training can emphasize that developing these types of reactions to trauma is part of being human and not a sign of weakness.
- Balance—The second aspect of building resilience is the importance of self-care. Individuals who are exposed to these daily descriptions and pictures of the trauma experienced by others must learn to set boundaries between their work and private lives. To some extent, this can be accomplished by the usual admonitions to get enough sleep, to participate in an exercise program, and to eat a healthy diet. Other important techniques include meditation, yoga, and mindfulness training.
- Connection—Because trial judges are typically isolated in dealing with specific cases, it is important to debrief with colleagues who understand the situation. When this is not possible, or is not enough, a coach can provide this type of connection and support. Individuals facing this kind of vicarious trauma need to be surrounded by a strong system of supportive relationships.
Attorneys are under pressure every day dealing with deadlines, challenging cases, demands from clients, and complexities of building and managing a practice. Attorneys suffer mental and emotional health issues at a greater rate than in other professions. In addition, many lawyers will suffer some wellness issues that may not rise to the level of impairment, but which nonetheless negatively affects the lawyer, his/her professional life and/or his/her family. For the first time, the legal profession is taking a look at the affect of these unique pressures on lawyers and identifying ways to positively address them for better physical, mental and emotional health of attorneys. Lawyers can benefit from taking a little time for themselves to focus on their well-being. The report, “The Occupational Risks of the Practice of Law” by 2018-2019 VSB President Leonard C. Heath Jr.'s Special Committee on Lawyer Well-Being identifies specific aspects or characteristics of the practice of law that might serve as a risk to a lawyer’s well-being, and provides practice pointers for individuals and organizations on how to minimize the impact of those risks. *
*Introduction taken partially from the Virginia State Bar
Please note that The Path to Well-Being office will remain open and are accepting new clients. We are also able to offer telehealth or online couples or marriage counseling or online therapist service options to those who would prefer to access services remotely. Please contact the office for further information. An online counselor can provide the help you need for anxiety, depression and stress! Tricare, self pay and Kaiser Permanente clients welcomed
What Makes Lawyers Happy?
Emotional distress, dissatisfaction, and unprofessional behavior are major concerns in the legal field. The legal profession, as compared to other occupations, has a disproportionate number of unhappy people. Career choices driven by external factors such as status and compensation instead of intrinsic values like enjoyment and vocation are some of the reasons for such unhappiness.
In this infographic, we explore how major life choices by lawyers, early at law school and then throughout their careers, correlate to their well-being. A correlation is a measure of how two variables move together (“relate to each other”) – not necessarily cause and effect although still a possibility. Here, the higher the correlation, the more strongly the factor is linked to a lawyer’s well-being. A negative correlation, on the other hand, means a factor inversely associated with well-being.
Learning and keeping in mind how these factors correlate to happiness may help lawyers make better-informed decisions and stay on track for a more fulfilling professional and personal life.
Data Source: Lawrence S. Krieger and Kennon M. Sheldon, What Makes Lawyers Happy? A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success, 83 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 554 (2015), https://ir.law.fsu.edu/articles/94