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Foster-Morales talks mental health and wellness with Cooley Law students

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Dori Foster-Morales

Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales spoke virtually to over 40 attorneys and law students on February 1 during WMU-Cooley Law School’ Tampa Bay campus Florida Association of Women Lawyers chapter event.

With the anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important for current and future Bar members to know what mental health and wellness resources are available. Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales spoke virtually to over 40 attorneys and law students February 1 and shared Florida Bar initiatives aimed at assisting current and future members of the Bar in their legal practices and beyond.

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers hosted the event.

During the conversation, Foster-Morales said, like many professions, lawyers believe the greatest pandemic challenge has been establishing a home life/work balance in addition to issues with isolation and technology. Attorneys, like others, are missing the energizing and personal connections made during “water cooler conversations” with co-workers. They find online meetings more draining because everyone is working harder to process the non-verbal communication like facial expressions, tone, and gestures.

“Service professionals have been hit hard by the pandemic, but especially lawyers who are in the business of solving everyone’s problems,” Foster-Morales said. “Lawyers need to know how to solve their own problems, too.”

FAWL groupWhile speaking about lawyer happiness, the group discussed a 2015 report by Lawrence Kreiger and Ken Sheldon, which discovered lawyer happiness does not come from external factors most often associated with the profession: earnings, partnership track or graduation from an elite law school, but from internal factors like integrity, relatedness to others, and competence and internal work motivation.

A 2016 report by National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was also discussed. The task was formed to create a collective legal culture that is sustaining, influences ethics and professionalism for the benefit of clients, and promotes lawyer well-being because it contributes to success.

Foster-Morales introduced the lawyers and students to the Florida Lawyers Helpline, The Florida Bar Mental Health and Wellness Center, and the Bar’s daily updates on COVID-19. She encouraged them to take part in the Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers division as well as to create communities within the law school, firm, and local community. Foster-Morales encouraged attendees to focus on gratitude, saying, “Our brains are wired to spot and remember the negative because of our natural instinct to survive. I have found it helpful to intentionally look for good things, even if they are small.”

After the presentation, WMU-Cooley’s FAWL President Yasmin Rammaha said, “Let us not forget to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of others.”

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