Bar YLD promotes health and wellness
With every year that passes, the YLD increasingly sees indications that quality of life concerns have become more important than ever to young lawyers. President-elect Zack Zuroweste opined as to why this might be: “Young lawyers view the world and define the quality of their lives differently from their parents, and we see it every day. Younger people, generally, are now drawn to more urban environments, select more healthy foods, and place greater value on personal time, vacation, experience, and what we often hear described as ‘balance.’ Because health and balance are priorities for young adults, and young lawyers specifically, we embrace that trend and hope its positive effects will carry over to the legal field.”
The Florida Bar’s 2016 Economics and Law Office Management Survey supports this view, finding that 60 percent of attorneys under age 35 ranked “quality of life” as the second biggest factor impacting their ability to practice law successfully, behind only “client expectations.” This percentage gradually decreased with age, with 51 percent of attorneys age 36 to 49, 44 percent age 50 to 65, and only 30 percent over age 65 saying the same.
“From my informal conversations around the state and from Florida Bar survey results, we know that wellness and balance are some of the most important and yet elusive issues for young lawyers,” said YLD President Katherine Hurst Miller. “Everyone’s in a slightly different place. Some of us need a little encouragement to go to the gym. Some of us need a reason to take a break from work. Some of us need help from a medical professional. That’s all OK, and it’s all part of our Health and Wellness month.”
At the same time, law firms and other employers are increasingly focusing on mental and physical health to recruit young attorneys. Wellness programs with dedicated directors, internal mentors, and other tools to support work-life balance are becoming more common at top firms, and moreover, expected by young attorneys. These days if a firm does not spotlight these considerations, it is less likely to attract young attorneys.
“As a profession, we should encourage wellness,” Miller said. “Today’s young lawyers prioritize it like never before.”
In the upcoming years, YLD’s health and wellness focus will only increase, with a particular emphasis on improving mental health. YLD President-elect Designate Christian George intends to make this a key focus of his presidency.
“A huge priority of mine is to break the stigma of attorneys taking care of their mental health,” George said. “I am blessed for many reasons to be married to my wife, Whitney, who is a psychologist. She has helped me learn the importance of taking care of yourself in terms of mental health. I am not ashamed to admit that I occasionally see a psychologist, which I find incredibly calming.”
George offers insight into what the YLD hopes to achieve — assisting young lawyers to appreciate that taking active steps to care for mental health is a positive attribute and a sign of strength. This year, the YLD Board of Governors’ Quality of Life Committee brought back its Health and Wellness Month focus by posting nearly every aspect of its broadcast on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram) using the hashtag #livewell.
Below are some activities to check out:
• Daily Challenges. The YLD is challenging lawyers each day to participate in activities known to provide benefits such as meditation and exercise, and making suggestions as to how to integrate these into daily routines.
• Affiliate Involvement. The YLD is again encouraging local affiliates to promote health and wellness by offering grants of up to $500 to support those activities. Examples include, but are not limited to, wellness seminars, physical group activities such as paddle boarding, yoga, barre class, or other stress-relieving activities like painting or attending theater productions.
• Humor Breaks. Every weekday in May the YLD is providing the tools for a quick humor break by sending out, via social media, short and funny video clips.
• TakeFive. Throughout May, the YLD is profiling judges and lawyers by asking them how they maintain a work-life balance.
• FirmFocus. Similarly, the YLD is profiling law firms to find out how they help their attorneys achieve a work-life balance.
• Mindfulness Webinars. Free CLE-credit webinars are being offered featuring Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation.
• Spreading Awareness of the Florida Lawyers Assistance Program. FLA is a confidential resource for law students, attorneys, judges, and support personnel staffed by professionals trained to assist with a wide range of substance abuse and mental health concerns such as depression (whether situational, periodic, or constant), anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. FLA can also assist attorneys successfully navigate difficult transition periods in their lives (new jobs, divorce, children), or cope with the illness or loss of a loved one.