Integral Resilience: How Attorneys Can Turn Adversity to Advantage
On Aug. 14, 2017 a coalition of groups, including the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, released a comprehensive report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. The Report sought to address the problem of substance use and mental health disorders of attorneys. Other groups involved in the drafting of the task force report were the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The Report did not come to grips with other maladies that are now pandemic, specifically alcoholism, depression, burnout, and suicide among attorneys, a trend that far exceeds the rates of the general population, and begins in law school. Moreover, the Report does not even scratch the surface of the compelling evidence that these largely behavioral challenges closely correlate, in medical terms have co-morbidity with, hypertension, cardiac illnesses, some forms of cancer, and various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
A part of the problem is an inability of attorneys to manage extreme stress effectively, which drives the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight) into overdrive, and suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for rebalancing and tuning immune competency, and reducing inflammation. But the problem is not only about stress. It goes far deeper and touches the values and practices, indeed the very integrity of the legal system and law practice in the U.S. and around the world.
The costs of this “imbalance” to civil society are extraordinary. Forbes estimate that the annual costs of burnout to all employers in all industries and professions in the U.S. is between $ 150-$ 300 billion. As the practice of law is one of the professions at highest risk for burnout, we can conservatively estimate the annual costs of burnout out alone, not mentioning all the other healthcare challenges facing the legal profession, is in the hundreds of $ millions.
What if there is an antidote? And what if the exploring the antidote is enjoyable, life-affirming, affordable, and time sensitive? What if it begins with happiness?
We now have compelling scientific evidence that:
- Happiness is less a result and more a cause of human wellbeing.
- Kindness, generosity, and acts of “paying forward,” in other words, selfless giving, are actually immune-supportive and correlate strongly with longevity.
- Positive behavioral changes involving the above and other actions to fortify integral resilience and cultivate character have immediate and sustainable biochemical consequences in our bodies.
But what is most stunning, although not surprising, is the strong evidence that happy attorneys and their law firms are also among the most successful, in the sense that their practices serve their clients and society well, and are very profitable.
The Resilient Negotiator course and the accompanying webinar series are designed to set you on this path and to support your systematic development of these core life skills, as directly applied in specific areas of legal practice. We are also launching a Global Online Dojo, where you can train with attorneys, and other professionals, business leaders, and advocates in many fields.
We welcome you to join us on this fascinating new frontier!