The Oregon Attorney Assistance Program publication, inSight, helps lawyers, judges, and law students to improve the quality of their lives.

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Why Well-Being?

We get this question a lot. So why does well-being matter and how are we measuring it?...

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The Online Life: How Much Is Too Much?

During the pandemic, some people have tried to minimize infection risk through online shopping...

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Four Surprising Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Research suggests that practicing gratitude, forgiveness, mindfulness, and self-compassion may...

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Why Well-Being?inSight June 2021HTMLWe get this question a lot. So why does well-being matter and how are we measuring it? Researchers, including those at our Center, continue to investigate the factors that shape well-being. Rather than pitching a fixed scientific definition of well-being, we’re constantly unearthing clues and evidence about how well-being manifests itself in the mind and body. It’s not a static "thing" – but a set of skills that can be learned and cultivated over time, just like learning to play a musical instrument or riding a bike. Center for Healthy Minds researchers explored the “how” of emotional well-being in a new paper in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Read more about this study here. Based on decades of research, we’ve identified four areas that contribute to well-being that are trainable and measurable in the lab: awareness, connection, insight and purpose.  Let's take a deep dive into the four pillars of well-being. Our friends at Healthy Minds Innovations, the external nonprofit affiliated with the Center, also share practices below on promoting your well-being. Awareness What it is: A heightened, flexible attentiveness to your environment and internal cues such as bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings. Training in awareness during meditation practices can increase what’s called “meta-awareness” or being aware of what is happening in your mind. What it looks like:  Noticing thoughts, feelings, sensations as they arise - commonly called mindfulness Catching yourself from being distracted or in auto-pilot mode while doing daily tasks like cleaning or driving The Science: People with higher levels of awareness have higher levels of well-being and positive emotions. Distraction, the main detractor from awareness, can impair executive function as well as increase stress and anxiety, ADHD symptoms, and depression. Some studies show that distraction and the effects of perceived stress can harm our health and produce stress responses in the body related to inflammation and aging. Bringing awareness to one’s thoughts recruits lateral regions of the prefrontal cortex that form part of the brain’s central-executive network. Practice: Close your eyes and take 10 intentional breaths, counting each silently and noticing how each inhale and exhale feels in your body. What do you notice? Whatever arises is fine. It’s the noticing that matters. Want a guided practice? Try the Tour of the Senses Seated 10 Minute practice from Healthy Minds Innovations. Connection What it is: A feeling of care and kinship toward other people, promoting supportive relationships and supportive interactions What it looks like:  Acknowledging people’s differences (like politics or points of view), and trying to understand that person’s unique perspective and acknowledge that just like you, they are worthy of dignity and respect as a fellow human being Showing appreciation to people in your life by acknowledging them and sharing why you’re grateful for them Focusing on a shared characteristic when you meet someone for the first time The Science: Forming negative first impressions (or even neutral ones in some cases), can potentially lead to apathy, intergroup bias, and perceived social isolation. Social relationships are better predictors of health than some biological and economic factors. Making inferences about someone we perceive to be similar to ourselves activates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is central to the perception of social safety and feelings of social connection. One Center study has reported that just 30 minutes of compassion meditation training per day over the course of two weeks resulted in changes in people’s caring behaviors as well as resulted in measurable changes in the brain. Practice: Make a habit of noticing the positive in other people. You do this as a sitting meditation practice by bringing a close friend or family member to mind and noticing things you admire or appreciate about them. Recall situations where they expressed these qualities and then imagine expressing your appreciation. You can then extend this to people you don’t know very well and eventually even to people you find challenging. Then apply this skill in daily life by noticing the positive in the people you see and interact with and expressing your appreciation. Try a guided practice! Listen to this Appreciation 10 Minute Seated Meditation from Healthy Minds Innovations. Insight What it is: Self-knowledge concerning how our emotions, thoughts and beliefs shape our experiences and sense of self What it looks like:  Recognizing an anxious thought and being curious whether it’s coming from a fearful expectation or self-criticism Clarify and challenge “unchangeable” beliefs about yourself and people around you The Science: Rigid and negative self beliefs can result in an increase in mental health disorders, while accepting and growth-oriented beliefs about the self are linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety and even things like improved academic performance. Scientific studies of the self suggest that there does not appear to be a single, unitary network associated with insight in the brain. Meditators with significant experience who have done insight-related deconstructive meditation appear to show enduring changes in self-related processing in the brain. Practice: If you've ever found yourself already in a bad mood before even joining a meeting, that's a moment for insight. You can question your assumptions, and notice them. Want to try a guided practice? Listen to Deconstructing Inner Experience from Healthy Minds Innovations. Purpose What it is: Being clear about your core values and deeper motivation and being able to apply them in your daily life What it looks like:  Being able to link mundane activities with a meaningful value or motivation, such as doing the dishes as an act of generosity for the people you live with Viewing challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, including strengthening your connection to meaningful values and goals The Science: A strong sense of purpose is associated with improved health outcomes and behaviors, including increased physical activity, decreased incidence of stroke, fewer cardiovascular events, reduced risk of death, lower health care utilization, and even better financial health. In a sample of African Americans at high-risk for psychiatric disorders, purpose in life emerged as a key factor predicting resilience and recovery from traumatic events. A pioneering study found people who prioritized more transcendent values (those that extend beyond themselves) had different activity in the left and right amygdala and left anterior insula, suggesting more transcendent values may reduce defensiveness and promote openness. Practice: In moments of hardship (like many people around the world are experiencing this year with the pandemic), identify what is most meaningful to you. For some whose aspirations might be to create a kinder world, how can you find actionable ways to be kind in this moment? Guided practice: Purpose Practice: Core Values from Healthy Minds Innovations This article originally appeared on The Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Reprinted with permission.
The Online Life: How Much Is Too Much?inSight June 2021HTMLDuring the pandemic, some people have tried to minimize infection risk through online shopping, telemedicine, and virtual events. But spending too much time online can compromise your mental well-being. Many people use social platforms to reach out to others. However, if you find chat time on social media leaves you feeling lonely, isolated, sad, or dissatisfied, it might help to decrease or avoid screen time – especially if you experience cyberbullying. If you’re turning to social media to relieve anxiety or depression, try to determine if this outlet is helping you. Fear of missing out can lead you to respond compulsively to every alert, which can cause distraction, missed sleep, and increased anxiety. Consider checking your alerts only at specific times of the day, and turn off your electronic device before bedtime instead of being on call 24/7. Many online activities are designed to continuously ensnare your attention, which can lead to addiction. Being consumed with your virtual presence could leave insufficient time for self-care and in-person relationships. Disabling notifications or removing apps can lessen compulsive checking. This article originally appeared in Personal Best Hope Health Newsletter, February 2021. Reprinted with permission. More Resources “Technology and Mental Health: How Lawyers Are Affected by Devices and Social Media and What to Do About It” – inSight (December 2019)  
Four Surprising Ways to Get a Better Night's SleepinSight June 2021HTMLResearch suggests that practicing gratitude, forgiveness, mindfulness, and self-compassion may improve our sleep during stressful times. A lot of us are suffering from lack of sleep these days. According the Centers for Disease Control, about 35% of adult Americans regularly get less than seven hours of sleep per night, with African Americans and other minority groups sleeping even less than that. With the pandemic still in full swing, we may have even more sleep problems than usual. Worries about our health and safety, jobs, kids’ disrupted education, and more are keeping many of us up at night, creating fatigue and stress the next day. This could also lead to more serious mental health issues, like depression and even suicide. Improving “sleep hygiene” is a good remedy—including going to bed at the same time every night, making sure your room is dark and quiet at bedtime, forgoing afternoon caffeine, and creating sleep-time rituals (like putting on cozy pajamas and reading a book before bed). But many people still suffer from sleep problems even after making these adjustments. And, though turning to sleeping pills can be effective, they can also be addictive, or they can disrupt our dreaming, which leads to lower-quality sleep. Fortunately, there may be other things worth trying to help us sleep that have more to do with our minds than our bodies. Recent research suggests that many of the well-being practices we can do to be happier also have a positive effect on sleep. Here are some of those practices. Mindfulness meditation A recent analysis of several high-quality studies (randomized controlled trials) concluded that mindfulness meditation programs help people fall asleep more easily and experience better-quality sleep overall. One study conducted in Wuhan, China, actually looked at how mindfulness might be useful for sleeping better during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the study, people spent 10 days using an app that either guided them through mindfulness meditation or induced mind-wandering (unfocused attention). They then reported how mindful they were and how much sleep they got the next day. After taking into account other factors influencing sleep (like how much caffeine people drank, their age, or prior anxiety levels), the researchers analyzed how long people slept as the virus spread and deaths proliferated in their community. Those who practiced mindfulness and became more mindful didn’t lose as much sleep as those in the other group, likely because mindfulness protected them some from worry and rumination. Mindfulness helps people recognize and accept negative thoughts and feelings without fighting them, reducing their intensity and preventing them from spiraling out of control. If you’ve not already tried mindfulness meditation, you can find many online resources to give it a go—including apps, which seem to be at least somewhat effective. You can also go to Greater Good in Action and try our practices—including a body scan, mindful breathing, or common humanity meditation. These exercises, besides potentially helping with sleep, have been found to reduce stress and depression and increase happiness and satisfaction with life, too. Self-compassion Self-compassion is something all of us could use right now, especially as lockdowns drag on and we find ourselves feeling more tired, unhappy, and unproductive than usual. Getting down on ourselves for perceived mistakes and flaws could exacerbate low-grade depression, which many of us already feel. Self-compassion helps us to be kinder to ourselves as we go through the ups and downs of life. According to researcher Kristin Neff, self-compassion involves paying attention to our internal and external experiences (mindfulness), recognizing when we are suffering and sending kind messages to ourselves, and keeping in mind our common humanity—that we are not alone in our imperfections or suffering. Studies have found that more self-compassionate people have better sleep, including less trouble falling asleep after a stressful day. In that study, people who were more self-compassionate were also in a better mood and felt more alert upon awakening than those with little self-compassion. Self-compassion can be strengthened with practice, and that improves sleep, too. In one study, participants were asked to think about personal mistakes they’d made before going to bed and assigned to do a self-compassion meditation, a self-compassion writing exercise, or neither of those (as a comparison). Based on their reports the next morning, those who did a self-compassion exercise slept significantly better and ruminated less than those who didn’t try self-compassion. These practices even helped people who started out more depressed, which is good to know, given how many of us are ruminating more these days. A new paper analyzing the results of several studies found there was “a significant association between self-compassion and self-reported sleep quality.” Though more rigorous studies could be done to confirm this, we can always benefit from practices like writing ourselves a self-compassion letter or taking a self-compassion break. Gratitude Feeling grateful is a good way to feel happier and strengthen our relationships. Now, it appears to help with sleep, too. In one study, 119 young women were randomly selected to write about people and things they were grateful for each day, things that happened each day, or nothing at all. After two weeks, people’s sleep quality improved significantly in the gratitude group, and this helped improve their well-being and optimism and reduce blood pressure, too. In a recent review of gratitude exercises and their effects on physical health, researchers found that one of the strongest impacts of gratitude was on sleep quality. One reason gratitude may affect sleep is that a grateful mindset seems to help us embrace more positive thoughts and let go of more negative ones before we go to bed. This means that it doesn’t take as long for us to fall asleep at night. To try gratitude practices yourself, you might consider keeping a gratitude journal (or use the GGSC’s Thnx4 online journal) or writing a gratitude letter. These are designed to increase your positive thoughts and feelings, which may be key to better sleep. Forgiveness For some people, forgiving others is hard—especially if you equate forgiveness with letting someone “off the hook” and condoning their harmful actions. But those who study forgiveness consider it to be not necessarily about healing relationships between people, but mostly important for ourselves, helping us to let go of grudges that decrease our personal well-being. If what’s keeping you up at night is holding on to grudges—pandemic-related or not—it could be worth considering practicing forgiveness. Though there is little or no direct research on how forgiving someone affects sleep directly, there is at least one study that found forgiving types were more likely to sleep better at night than others. Additionally, those who were more self-forgiving in the study also slept better because they were able to let go of mistakes they’d made more easily. Forgiving someone can make us feel happier, more hopeful, less depressed and anxious, and less vulnerable to stress. And it can improve our relationships with others, especially our closest ones, which is important when so many of us have limited ability to interact with others right now. Each of these benefits is also tied to better sleep, which is all the more reason to try practicing forgiveness. The nice thing about all of these practices is that they can be used alone or in tandem, and they don’t have undesirable side effects. Not only that, practicing these keys to happiness can have the desirable side effect of helping you become a happier, healthier person. That’s something we can all cheer about in these dark times. Just don’t try cheering right before you want to fall asleep! This article originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Reprinted with permission.
Did you Miss Well-Being Week in Law?inSight June 2021HTMLIf you didn’t tune in to the events of 2021 Well-Being Week in Law last month, you can catch up on everything you missed! The OAAP posted daily blog posts about the various aspects of well-being, with a different focus each day and suggestions for well-being activities to “watch,” “read,” and “do.” Monday – Stay Strong: Well-Being Week Kickoff and Physical Well-Being Tuesday – Align: Spiritual Well-Being Wednesday – Engage and Grow: Career and Intellectual Well-Being Thursday – Connect: Social Well-Being Friday – Feel Well: Emotional Well-Being Visit our Thriving Today blog at and check out the full week of blog posts – or just pick one that catches your eye. It’s never too late to focus on well-being!  
June 2021 Full IssueinSight June 2021PDF
Perspectives: Lawyers, Anxiety, and DepressionDecember 2020HTMLWell over half of all lawyers report having had depression or anxiety over the span of their legal career. Below, lawyers share their experience practicing law with anxiety or depression: the challenges they faced, what helped, and what they would like other lawyers to know. At its most challenging, how did anxiety or depression impact you?  One of the constant themes in my first few years of practicing law was the overwhelming anxiety that I was missing something in my analysis of an issue. Anxiety undercut my confidence and competence. I felt frozen. I couldn’t answer the phone, open the mail, or check email. I knew I had to, but I didn’t care. Of course, the longer I put it off, the worse it got. I felt a sense of hopelessness about ever having an engaged, meaningful, and peaceful life, and that this would never get any better. I had obsessive negative thoughts about everything − a lot of self-blame, and the belief that life wasn’t worth living. When anxiety is at its worst, I can’t see anything good.  I see only where I caused all the problems or have no control over solving the problems.  Nothing is positive, including the positive things.  All things are negative. I just didn’t care about anything. I felt blank and checked-out. I didn’t want to leave the house. I felt so uncertain about everything, I would second-guess anything my brain would tell me. I couldn’t make decisions. My confidence eroded. I felt a deep guilt for being present. I was certain that my friends, family, and clients would be better off without my presence in their life. What encouraged you to seek help? An acute set of life circumstances led to pain and sadness that became intolerable. I’ve had bouts of depression for a long time. Depression had been a lifelong struggle. My family really wanted me to get help. A colleague at work noticed I wasn’t doing well and reached out. He told me that he had seen a therapist for depression and thought it might help me, too. I couldn’t tolerate the way I felt anymore. It was choose suicide or choose to get help. I have young kids, so suicide didn’t seem right. I thought that I had failed in representing a particularly troublesome client and was having trouble sleeping, eating, or doing other work. When I told my PLF claims attorney, she referred me to the OAAP. What challenges did you face in getting help for your depression or anxiety? It was hard to ask for help because I really felt like I was the only one who felt this way and that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t understand. It turns out that wasn’t true. It took a while to find the medication that worked for me, but persistence paid off. Depression is the absence of any motivation to get up, move around, work, or even eat. That made it hard to reach out for help. It was hard to find understanding at work. I didn’t feel like I could talk to my supervisor. I knew I needed help, but I also needed the money, so I decided to just suffer and hope it would go away. That was unsustainable. I first struggled with the idea of taking medication; I felt I would be weak if I took medication for anxiety. I had the same feeling even after taking medication and knowing that it was helping. Getting over this feeling of weakness has been an ongoing challenge, but it’s so worth it. I thought that everyone felt anxious and depressed but that everyone else was just better at handling those feelings than I was. What do you find to be most helpful or supportive from the people nearest you? Whenever anybody tries to help, that feels really good. But having people feel sorry for me is not helpful – even though they mean well. Having acceptance and understanding is helpful. Some people couldn’t understand that my brain was different. If someone in your life has depression and anxiety, read about it and educate yourself. If you just go with your instincts, you might be wrong. My therapist told me early on that they were holding hope for me until I could find hope for myself. That really meant a lot. Having someone just be there for me. You don’t have to fix it – just be supportive. Laughter helps. What are some things that are helpful to you in your recovery? Talk therapy and changing lifestyle habits – social connection, proper food, good sleep, and exercise. The ability to talk to friends and family about it. I am lucky to have a partner who is willing to listen and support me in my path to greater control over my anxiety and depression. I have to remember that anxiety is a liar. It lies to me about my strengths, disguising my strengths as weakness and my weakness as proof that I’m a terrible person. It gets easier to remind myself that those things are, factually, not true. Finding acceptance: It’s OK that I don’t always feel good. I don’t have to feel bad about feeling bad – it’s temporary. Whether it’s what you do for fun, your social life, or your work, ask for what you need. Exercise, changing scenery, grounding. Just noticing what’s happening in the moment. I try to go for a walk, even if it is raining, and I drink water. Sometimes the news gets me down. I always try to pull myself away from my computer to get a different perspective. Doctor-prescribed anti-anxiety medication. However, my first prescription didn’t help; so keep going back until you feel your medication is working and you feel good. I make a point of seeing my therapist regularly to ensure that I stay on track with my mental health. How has recovery from anxiety and depression affected your personal and professional life? I’m more understanding, a nicer person, and more accepting of others’ troubles. My understanding and experience gives me a better connection to humanity. I’m less reserved with the people around me and more present with the people in my life. It’s easier to just be me. My work life has definitely changed. Work was too stressful. I reorganized my life around non-profit activities that gave me purpose. I changed my lifestyle to reduce stress. I’ve become clearer in my professional life that life is short, so I try to do more things that I enjoy and that are meaningful to me. I’m more confident, and it’s easier to get work done. Being able to let go of some of my constant fears has helped me function better. My practice has improved because I have better skills to cope with those troubling thoughts that jump in my mind to throw me off course. When I saw anxiety for what it was, I leaned in and now ask people if there is something I’m missing. I don’t say it that way, of course. I ask clerks in administrative agencies if there is something that they wonder why I haven’t brought up. I ask clients if there is something that they expected to talk about that hasn’t been discussed yet. And I ask opposing counsel (after litigation!) if there was anything in particular “behind the curtain” they hadn’t shared before. Most times the answer is no, but in the rare situations when the answer is yes, I always learn something new, and it helps my anxiety. Are there any suggestions you would give to a lawyer considering seeking help for anxiety or depression? Go get help right away.  You don’t have to battle this on your own.  Life can be easier, and it will be once you get some help. Keep working on it and don’t give up. You can find a path to feel better. Seek help. Sustained continuous effort. Remember that it’s a medical condition and that with accurate diagnosis you get better treatment. You can find a way to continue to work and get treatment. Depression is treatable, and it takes effort and time to recover. It comes in degrees; it’s manageable until it’s not. Work with it right away. Your life is more important than your job. Connecting with other people who have experienced the same thing is helpful. Find a group that you can join. Talk to a therapist! Take that first step of being vulnerable, and you’ll see your hard work pay off. I know it’s hard to reach out. There is help. It is effective. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Just reach out if you’re feeling any of this. Don’t give up. My deep appreciation goes to the lawyers who took the time to share their thoughts with me for this article. To talk to an attorney counselor about depression or anxiety, call the OAAP at 503.226.1057. Our services are confidential. Bryan R. Welch, JD, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor
Did You Know? Facts About Depression and AnxietyDecember 2020HTMLIn 2017, around 17.3 million adults age 18 or older in the United States had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year (6.7% of adults in the U.S.). Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. A 2016 survey indicated that the most common mental health conditions reported by lawyers over their legal career were anxiety (61.1%), depression (45.7%), and social anxiety (16.1%). Anxiety is highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. Between 80% and 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment. Almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. At least one study has found that survivors of COVID-19 are at increased risk of developing mental health issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD for the first time within 90 days of diagnosis. If you are concerned about your safety or well-being, or that of a friend or colleague, you can get help 24/7 by calling: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
For More About Depression and Anxiety: ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs Mental Health and Substance Use Resources – Anxiety and Depression Association of America – About Depression  (National Institute Of Mental Health) – About Anxiety (National Institute Of Mental Health) – Jeffrey Fortgang and Shawn Healy, The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression (2017) Sources: “The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys,” Patrick R. Krill, JD, LLM, Ryan Johnson, MA, and Linda Albert, MSSW, Journal of Addiction Medicine, January/February 2016, Vol. 10, Issue 1 – Anxiety and Depression Association of America – “Bidirectional Associations Between COVID-19 and Psychiatric Disorder: Retrospective Cohort Studies of 62 354 COVID-19 Cases in the USA,” Maxime Taquet, PhD, Sierra Luciano, BA, Prof. John R. Geddes, FRCPsych, Prof. Paul J. Harrison, FRCPsych, The Lancet, November 9, 2020 – “What Is Depression? The American Psychiatric Association –
Handling Fear and Stress During a Prolonged CrisisDecember 2020HTMLThe COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us in ways we never expected. Social distancing, schools shuttered, courts closed, layoffs, events canceled, financial insecurity. The list goes on. How Are We Supposed to Cope With So Much Rapid Change in Our Lives? Begin with an acknowledgment that it feels very unsettling to be reminded how little direct control we have over our lives – particularly over the elements of our lives that are most important to us. It is completely normal to struggle with this. While unforeseen crises in our lives are stressful, they can also be opportunities. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to convince you to put on rose-colored glasses and pretend all is well. I am suggesting that it can be helpful to remind yourself that the coronavirus crisis is affecting all of us. So, What’s the Best Approach to Handling the Stress We’re Feeling? First, to deal with the control issue, distinguish between what is within your direct control and what is not. Then direct your time and energy at the former. Start with a personal check-in. How are you doing with this “new normal”? What are you feeling? What aspects of this change are the most challenging for you? What potential benefits do you see from spending more time at home, working remotely, possibly having more time on your hands, or having your children home from school? Then, based on what you need, consider trying a few of these suggestions. Stick to Routines and Reinforce Habits Working remotely or staying at home for extended periods can be disorienting because it disrupts routines and habits. Routines and daily habits not only keep us centered, but they also save time because we have to make fewer decisions. I don’t need to decide what I’m going to do if I have already committed to something as part of my routine. The absence of that routine now forces me to spend time and energy making more decisions. To reduce this demand on your time and energy, form new routines in your current situation. For example, even though it might not seem necessary, give yourself a schedule to follow at home just as if you were going into the office. Don’t Neglect the Basics Prioritize healthy sleep routines, diet, exercise, breaks throughout the day, and healthy boundaries with yourself and others. Social supports are crucial, so keep up your social interactions, too. Use technology and creativity to foster relationships, even while following health guidance, observing safety protocols, and complying with legal orders. Seek Out Social Connections If you are used to interacting with people effortlessly as part of your typical routine, you may not have had to consciously seek out social interactions in the past. If you are more extroverted, you might have been energized by these interactions and not even realized it. We often do not realize how important those regular social contacts are until they are gone. Even though it might feel clumsy to initiate those contacts now that your routine has changed, take the chance that your co-workers or colleagues also miss socializing and would appreciate you reaching out. Consider Technology Your Friend It’s no surprise that many organizations have suddenly started using videoconferencing programs and cloud-based project management systems to connect across disparate work locations. In addition to using more technology to complete work and enable client contact, explore how technology can offer a temporary replacement for the social connections you are suddenly missing due to the disruptions in your routines. Help Others In situations where we feel significant stress, it is common to feel disempowered. One way to feel more confident in the face of uncertainty is to find ways of helping others. Especially if you are losing work hours or are unemployed, identifying ways to help those around you can be very healthy for your self-esteem and overall mental health. Drink More Water It may sound a bit silly, but we all need to drink more water. A common way to pass the time is to snack when you feel bored … or when you’re hungry … or when you want a break or … whenever. Drinking more water can help us stay hydrated, allow us to better distinguish our hunger from our thirst, and give us something to do when we are bored instead of snacking on carbs that we will later regret. Get Outside Again, it might seem silly to put this on the list, but there is a significant benefit to going outside every day, breathing fresh air (even if it is cold and rainy), and looking at a tree for even just one minute. Seriously, research shows that looking at a tree for 60 seconds has a positive impact on your well-being. Use Downtime to Accomplish a Neglected Household To-do List I know I am not alone in having a long “I intend to get to this someday” list of tasks that I have long neglected, usually because I feel too busy with other pressing matters. If you aren’t able to use your time as productively as you would like (whether due to a lack of work, distractions at home, or a wandering mind), give yourself permission to try accomplishing one of the tasks on said list. Resurrect Old Hobbies and Explore New Ones Instead of filling your time with activities that have little to no reward, try reconnecting with hobbies that you once enjoyed. If they brought you enjoyment when you were younger, they might once again. Also, explore new hobbies, given your current situation. Hobbies that involve creating something or cultivating a new ability provide a lasting reward that reminds us that our time and energy can produce something tangible and long term. Change for the Good: Take Advantage of What You Learn One benefit of a drastic change to our routines is the opportunity to re-evaluate them. It’s easy for people and organizations to get into the “this is just how we do things” rut. Now that so many things have turned on their head, brainstorm about making changes that would be helpful not only in the present moment but in the future. This could be far-reaching – for example, allowing more flexible work options permanently, or moving your practice to the cloud. Or, the changes you make might focus on your personal productivity and happiness. For example, right now I am experimenting with playing some upbeat instrumental music while writing this article. Normally, I would be concerned about how music might affect my co-workers. Since they aren’t physically in the same workspace, I feel freer to experiment with what might be helpful to accomplish tasks. Remember: Even though the future is uncertain, you do not have to go through this alone. Many resources are available. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help. Be well. Shawn Healy This article originally appeared on, on March 23, 2020. Reprinted with permission. Shawn Healy is a licensed clinical psychologist with Massachusetts Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Inc. (LCL). He runs stress management groups for law firms and provides training sessions on time and stress management to bar associations, solo attorneys, and law firms. A frequent writer on the topics of conflict resolution, anxiety management, resilience, and work-life balance, he is a contributor to the LCL blog and tweets for @LCL_MassLawyers.
December 2020 Full IssueDecember 2020PDF
Job-Search Tips for Attorneys During COVID-19September 2020HTMLLooking for a new position is often a daunting prospect, even in the best of times. And with the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic reverberating throughout the world of BigLaw (and the world at large), job searching can feel especially overwhelming – whether you’re currently out of work or anxious about your job security. These unprecedented circumstances call for new approaches, creative strategies, and a focus on shifting your perspective to give you the best chance of success. At Naomi Beard & Associates, we have helped thousands of attorneys find the right new position when they transition out of a firm – in all sorts of employment landscapes. Here are a few of the measures we’ve seen help attorneys land the jobs they want, even in the face of a challenging job market. In this market, your job search is likely to take longer than you’d planned – the number and nature of job openings is contracting and shifting. First, take heart With industry reports of selected hiring freezes, compensation reductions, and even layoffs, news about the legal industry job market might seem disheartening right now. But keep in mind that the news tends to report on the negatives and doesn’t always provide a balanced view of how things really look. Our experience at NB&A tells us that, while the legal industry job market is indeed more difficult right now, some employers are still hiring, and some of the attorneys with whom we are working are still landing both interviews and jobs. Your job search may look different (and take longer) than you’d anticipated, but hiring is still taking place. Adjust your expectations As noted above, in this market, your job search is likely to take longer than you’d planned – the number and nature of job openings is contracting and shifting. Try to let go of what you think a job search “should” look like. Accept the current reality and lean into shifting your expectations to a new normal. Continue to track the market Don’t get lost in online job boards, but do select at least one trusted job board listing positions in the legal industry (and elsewhere, depending on the scope of your search) and keep an eye on what’s posted. Make sure you’ve joined your undergraduate and law school alumni associations; these can be invaluable resources for both job leads and connections. Check out your state’s (and the ABA’s) bar association career centers. Stay in touch with a trusted recruiter or two. Remaining abreast of what’s trending enables you to not only identify potential new job opportunities, but to track industry movement and open additional pathways for making connections. Lean into (remote) networking Many employers with open positions might not be posting them on online job boards but are still trying to find talent through their networks – whether to fill an immediate opening or to line up talent for when hiring picks up. This makes networking more vital than ever. In fact, the general need for human connection these days might open the door to even more networking opportunities. Reach out to your contacts with a service-oriented mindset – ask them how you can help rather than just touting your skills. Aim for authentic connection on a human level. Play the long game It’s easy to fall into the trap of tunnel vision when you’re anxious to secure new employment. If you can expand your perspective, you’ll have a better chance of success. Imagine where you’d like to be a year from now – and play out multiple scenarios. Keep conversations going with a wide variety of contacts. Remain flexible as the market continues to change. Be open to possibilities like a lateral move, a new practice area, or a temporary placement. Broadening your idea of what your next position might look like will open your eyes to more possibilities. Expand your expertise Though many employers might have paused some hiring activity as they wait to see how the market changes, forecasts show potential growth in several practice areas over the coming months. Experts say that the sectors expected to expand include health care, insurance, tax, restructuring/bankruptcy, and employment law. Keep an eye on trends, and look for ways to hone your expertise in such areas. Build your brand like you’d build your practice Ironically, working on your own professional profile is often much harder than doing work to support other people – being accountable only to oneself is a particular challenge. Approach your professional branding with the same mindset you’d use to tackle a matter: dig into research, create a strategy and timeline, and execute work product. Now is the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile, write articles or blog posts (and comment on those posted by others), engage in mentoring younger attorneys or law students, and take online courses. You can use this time to reflect on your unique skills and attributes and build out your narrative. If you’re sitting across from an interviewer six or twelve months from now, imagine how you’d answer the question, “What did you do during the pandemic?” Then do the things that will form your success story in the future. Be poised to leap when opportunity knocks As part of building your brand, brush up on all the materials and skills you’ll need when a job opportunity comes along. Don’t just update your resume – revamp and optimize it. Draft a sample cover letter or two that you can quickly adapt when needed. Practice your interview skills, familiarize yourself with the world of video-based interviews, run through case studies illustrating your top strengths with colleagues and friends, research and practice digital assessments and job simulation tests. By remaining prepared to move quickly when the time comes, you can ride the waves of uncertainty without feeling like you might drown. Seek support You don’t have to go it alone – seek out the resources that can support you now. If your finances are strained, get savvy about your budget and research how recently passed government legislation (like the CARES Act) might support you with student loan relief or expanded unemployment benefits. If you’re still transitioning out of a firm, ask if they’d be willing to extend the amount of time you can remain affiliated, see if you can support their pro bono matters after your official duties end, or ask if they’ll offer outplacement support if they aren’t doing so already. Cultivate resilience If you’re out of work, remember all the wellness-related activities you wished you had time for when you were at your busiest. Developing those habits – like physical activity, eating well, good sleep hygiene, and mindfulness practices – will serve you well right now and far into the future. Consider creating a daily schedule (and making a commitment to stick to it!) that helps you work toward your goals and milestones. Focus on what you can control – your own actions and strengthening your coping mechanisms – and try to let go of what’s outside your sphere of influence. Be kind, especially to yourself No one is immune from the anxiety of the current environment, and job searching at the same time is one more area of potential stress. Acknowledge that this time period is difficult and that moments of struggle are valid and expected. It’s okay to have bad days – that’s just human nature. At the same time, celebrate your efforts and reward yourself for small wins. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Look at the big picture Limiting your news intake to just one hour a day – instead of constantly checking the latest updates – can help you break the tendency to focus on the immediate stress and remember that this situation will eventually change for the better. We’ve weathered economic storms before. Recall how you and others managed during the last recession, or reach out to those who remember it well if this is the first time you’re grappling with such a situation. Help others, empower yourself Taking action always feels better than sitting idly and awaiting what fate throws your way. Sometimes the best way to stay in motion is to help others who are also struggling. Virtual volunteer opportunities abound – both within the field of law and in many other areas. When you make a difference in someone else’s life, you get a powerful reminder that your actions matter and have value. We all work to make a living, but our careers provide far more than an income. A job is often a source of purpose, a sense of identity, and a means for making a difference in the world. When you’re without employment (or worried about losing what you have), you have to provide that purpose for yourself. Remember what drove you to enter the field of law in the first place, tap into that smoldering spark of passion, and use it to propel you into action that supports both your success and your well-being. Naomi Beard Nelson © 2020 Naomi Beard & Associates, Inc. This article was originally published on the Naomi Beard & Associates website; please do not copy or distribute without attribution.  
A Resilient Mindset: Taking Stock of What You Lost and What You Gained to Move ForwardSeptember 2020HTMLWhat Is a Resilient Mindset? I don’t know of a single person in our profession who has not dealt with a personal or professional setback. While most of us have honed a few coping skills for trying times, many of us are finding that our skills are falling short during the pandemic and its aftermath – the unknowns are too vast and the tragedy too great. As we move forward, a resilient mindset may be what allows us to stay afloat mentally, emotionally, and financially in these rocky waters. Ultimately, a resilient mindset may mean the difference between holding steady with an anchor and being tossed around in the waves. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from a setback and adapt when things don’t go as planned. It arises through a process of understanding our emotional response to the setback and by making meaning of what we learn while recovering. Our mindset is a compilation of our beliefs, attitudes, and mental states that orient us to what is going on and what we should do (or not do) about a given situation. A resilient mindset allows us to adapt our beliefs, attitudes, and mental states such that we can bounce back from setbacks and unanticipated changes. A resilient mindset is one that both allows space for “what is real” in the moment – including difficult emotions such as fear, sadness, and loneliness – and space for something new and improved to emerge. No one yet knows what the full impact of the coronavirus and its aftermath will be; however, our mindset will determine how we remember and talk about what happened, and will determine what we make of our lives now. If we strive to have a resilient mindset, we will be able to adapt and bounce back from all we have lost and make the most of what we have gained in the past few months. During the peak of the pandemic, I received an email from a client, Jessica Yañez, a North Carolina attorney and owner of Yañez Immigration Law in Greensboro. Her email so clearly illustrates the power of employing a resilient mindset during challenging times that I asked her for permission to excerpt from it here. What follows is an example of someone who is thriving in difficult circumstances. Not everyone is experiencing the pandemic in the same way, and not everyone will embrace adversity like this. In fact, most people will find that they are coping well in some areas and not as well in others. It’s completely normal to feel challenged by setbacks. So if you are struggling right now, know that you are not alone. But you can draw inspiration from others’ stories, and maybe it will spark an idea that resonates for your own life. “Hi Laura,” her email began, “I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts about the current coronavirus situation. We are definitely in unprecedented times, and lots of people are suffering. There was one day that I worried myself sick and ended up having a good, long cry because I just felt so bad for all of the people suffering and my fear of the unknown.” As I read the opening lines of Jessica’s email, I could feel her distress and concern due to the trauma and uncertainty of the times. And yet, when I read her next sentence, I started to smile: “Once I got past that day, things have been so much better.” As I continued to read her email, it was apparent that Jessica had adopted a “resilient mindset” to help her and her family cope with pandemic-related setbacks. Her email went on to exemplify ways she and her family were adapting both their attitudes and their lives in resilient ways. “I am embracing the unknown and enjoying so many new things,” she wrote. “I always said I wanted to work less and spend more time with my kids. Now I am staying home two days a week with them and spending so much quality time with them. I am embracing technology and all of the things it has to offer. I did a paint class online Friday evening; I started having the kids do photography scavenger hunts. Our son turned 12 at the end of March and finally learned to ride the bike we got him when he was six years old! He learned to mow the lawn, too. My daughter is doing an online art class, and we do free online lessons through scholastic and Cosmic Kids yoga together. I also signed them up for a book club called Literati and a cooking club called Kidstir. We made a home gym in the garage and work out together. It’s like we are finally able to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do, but was too tired or too stressed to do.” Embracing the unknown is a useful approach to cultivating a resilient mindset, and oftentimes creativity emerges as a result, just as Jessica and her family discovered. A resilient mindset can also open us up to deepening our relationships with ourselves and those we love. Jessica’s email continued: “I gardened for the first time and even got a bike myself! I’ve connected more with my husband, and we have taken time to talk about things that really matter to us.” Cultivation of a resilient mindset can be done at both work and home: When we foster a resilient mindset toward our home life, it crosses over into our work, and vice versa. The adage “the way you do anything is the way you do everything” applies to our mindset, and we can reap the benefits of resilience in both places, as Jessica’s email illustrates. “As for the firm, we are still steady, and we now have time to do everything we wanted to, but didn’t have the time [before]. At the end of this month, we are going to do a complete file review for every case in the office. We will reach out to everyone with a pending case to say hello and check in. We will use the time after that to get ahead on every case.” Most importantly, a resilient mindset makes meaning out of what we lost and connects it with what we gained. The closing lines of Jessica’s email illustrate that she was doing that. “I know everyone processes this differently, but this has been a blessing in disguise for me. Some people may feel overwhelmed and not want to be given a laundry list of things to do, but I feel like now the world has given us the much-needed gift of slowing things down and letting us take time to rest and do things we always wanted to [do].” I was touched to read Jessica’s email and felt proud of her for investing her time in cultivating a resilient mindset long prior to the pandemic. It was clear she had “done her homework,” and her resilience kicked into gear when she needed it. Step One: Account for What You Lost – As you process your experience with COVID-19, take a moment to acknowledge how it set you back and what you lost. Perhaps professionally you lost something that gave you security – like your job or your firm, or the benefits you receive from full-time work, or your confidence in being able to run a business. Maybe you lost something that gave you satisfaction or joy – like having a routine, writing a brief, going to court, or winning a case. Perhaps the biggest thing you lost was your face-to-face connection to your colleagues, your clients, or the people you saw in court. You may even have experienced a loss of identity as a professional as your work calendar cleared and clients stopped calling. There may also be numerous personal losses to account for as well. You may have lost someone you know to COVID-19, or suffered another loss, like being able to attend your child’s graduation, a family celebration, or your own retirement party. Or perhaps you missed out on a vacation or travel for spring break. It’s okay to account for smaller daily losses, too, like the loss of freedom to travel, leave your home, grocery shop with ease, get a haircut, and so on. Note that you also may be experiencing “anticipatory grief” – fear of the loss of things to come. If that is the case, account also for what you’re afraid you may lose in the future. Make a list now of your losses and setbacks. Step Two: Make It Manageable – Choose one of the losses from your list and focus on that as you go through the next steps in this process. You can do steps two through five for each item on your list if you’d like. Part of having a resilient mindset is giving yourself the opportunity to digest and process your setbacks in small chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Step Three: Acknowledge Your Feelings – Acknowledge the feelings that came up when you experienced the loss and may still be coming up now as you account for what you lost (or what you fear losing in the future). For example, “I feel doubt, fear, sadness, confusion, disillusionment, and/or shock because when I got furloughed I lost my confidence, security, peace, sense of accomplishment, and control, and I felt alone.” As challenging as it can be to feel the uncomfortable feelings that accompany your loss, doing so is a key step to being able to process your emotions and move through the grief that arises from the loss. Step Four: Give Yourself Support – This is one of the most important steps, even though it can be the most difficult for us as lawyers and judges to seek and receive support. Giving yourself support can be as simple as saying something kind and understanding to yourself like, “Ouch. That hurt. Of course I feel all of those feelings because that was a big loss and it set me back.” Taking a deep breath, sighing, or going outside may also help. You may want to find additional support by talking to a friend, colleague, or loved one about what you’ve lost and the feelings that come up when you think about it. If you feel inconsolable after trying a few different avenues for self-support, reach out to a mental health care provider and/or the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program for professional support. Step Five: Reflect on What You Gained and Make Meaningful Connections Between What You Lost and What You Gained – This is the pinnacle step in creating a resilient mindset. To bounce back from a setback better than you were before it occurred, make a connection between what you lost and a skill, belief, attitude, or mental state you gained as a result of what you lost. For example, “I lost the ease of going to work and seeing clients in person, but I figured out how to work from home and use video conferencing to connect with clients in a new way.” Or, “I lost the financial security I got from my job, but I found out that I can budget and cut back when I need to.” Or, “Because I live alone, I lost my normal sense of connection with my friends, but I feel like I know myself better now, and I made new connections with my neighbors and learned to cook.” Or, “I lost someone I love during COVID, but I gained a greater understanding of how to cope with loss by reaching out to a therapist virtually for support.” If you can, see if you can feel gratitude or appreciation for what you’ve gained. Don’t push it, though: If feelings of gratitude and appreciation don’t naturally arise, it’s okay. You may be too close to the loss and setback right now to feel much appreciation. In that case, just stick with what you gained and its meaning for you. As you rebuild over the next few months and find yourself looking for an anchor, check in with your mindset. Try on a resilient mindset for an hour, or a day, or a week, and see if employing it calms the waters and improves your perspective, well-being, and productivity. If you like how it feels, keep at it. The more you practice, the easier cultivating a resilient mindset becomes, and the sooner it turns into a habit that improves your whole outlook on life’s setbacks. Laura Mahr This article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of the North Carolina State Bar Journal. Republished with permission. Thank you to Jessica Yañez and her family for their willingness to share their experiences with the Pathways to Well-Being readership. Laura Mahr is an Oregon lawyer, a North Carolina lawyer, and the founder of Conscious Legal Minds LLC, providing mindfulness-based wellness coaching, training, and consulting for attorneys and law offices nationwide. Her work is informed by 13 years of practice as a civil sexual assault attorney, 25 years as a student and teacher of mindfulness and yoga, a love of neurobiology and neuropsychology, and a passion for resilience. Find out more about Laura’s work at If you would like to bring Laura to your firm or event to conduct a cutting-edge resilience-building training, contact her at info@consciouslegalmindscom.
September 2020 Full IssueSeptember 2020PDF
Money Talk: Fostering Effective Financial ConversationsJune 2020HTMLOAAP Attorney Counselor Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I, recently had the opportunity to talk with Portland-area financial therapist Brian H. Farr, LPC, about how to have successful conversations about money. Brian works with clients who are having issues surrounding their finances. Their interview is summarized below. Q: Brian, I assume finances are nearly always an important issue that should be periodically talked about by those in marital, couple, and partner relationships even in normal times. Why is it any more important today, or is it? Right now is an important time to talk about finances because COVID-19 has upended finances for so many people. Revenue reductions for law firms and reduced take-home pay for individuals and families are not uncommon. Setting aside time to sit down for a conversation about finances can bring partners into alignment and strengthen relationships. When partners have equal access to critical financial information, creativity and problem-solving are enhanced. If the money coming in is suddenly less than the money going out, partners must quickly recognize the new reality and take corrective action. Talking about money and working together to address financial problems will minimize misunderstanding and maximize success during an economic downturn. Q: What are the primary goals of having these financial discussions? Clarity is an important goal. Many problems with finances occur because partners are not looking at the same set of numbers or are not seeing the numbers in a similar way. In some situations, it will require patience and perseverance to develop a common understanding of the finances, but it is worth the effort to establish that clarity. Developing a menu of possible actions is another goal for financial discussions. “Now that we have a picture of our current reality, what are the most viable options for moving forward? If needed, where can we make cutbacks?” A third goal of financial conversations would be for partners to improve their skills at conducting financial conversations. Talking about money can be difficult! Financial uncertainty frequently triggers strong emotions. Learning how to create physical, intellectual, and emotional environments that support effective financial conversations is a worthwhile long-term goal for any financial discussion. Q: So, where’s the best place for people to start in preparing to have helpful discussions about their finances? Time and location have an outsized impact on financial discussions. The potential success of these conversations will be compromised when the physical environment is full of distractions (e.g., electronic devices, children) or when the time available is squeezed or compromised (e.g., racing to the next meeting, hungry moments just before dinner, falling asleep). 80% of success is showing up. Choosing the right time and location will allow partners to be fully present for financial discussions. Equal access to the financial data is another important factor at the beginning of money discussions. In some partnerships, one person has become the money management “expert,” which inevitably disempowers the other partner(s). Knowledge is power. The more knowledgeable money person needs to take responsibility for collecting and presenting the financial data in such a way that it can be understood by the other partner(s). This frequently requires extra time and patience from everyone involved. Equal access and genuine understanding of the partnership data are certainly worth the additional effort. Q: Can you give some examples of helpful ground rules? I think that scheduling financial conversations on the calendar can be very helpful. With some advance notice, participants are able to clear their heads and collect their thoughts. Establishing a timeframe for beginning and end provides a clear container. At the start of the meeting, it is good to summarize what you need to address and what you want to accomplish. When possible, I suggest beginning these conversations with the lower-stress financial issues to get some momentum, then tackle the potentially difficult or contentious issues. The most important objective of a financial conversation is to stay connected enough to continue the conversation. Communication breakdowns can be extremely costly during an economic crisis. Participants in the conversation must take responsibility for their own emotions and reactivity, and eliminate blame. Grounding and conscious breathing can be useful techniques for helping individuals stay present with the facts of a financial discussion. Establishing simple rules for a “time out” can also be helpful: how to request the “time out,” length of time for the cooling off, and commitment for returning to the conversation. At the end of the meeting, summarize the decisions and get clarity on all action items. Then take a moment to celebrate your successful conversation. Q: Reviewing and talking about finances sounds like it could easily get very technical and complicated, especially if finances have not been routinely reviewed and discussed. Are there some basic categories that can be used to simplify the process? This is an important point. People bail out of financial discussions that become too complicated. Household and small business finances are not rocket science: money comes in and money goes out. Developing a simple and clear way to track cash flow is critical. The four basic expense categories are: Mostly Fixed, Variable, Periodic, and Debt Payments. Each category has unique tracking characteristics, and each requires different strategies when expense reductions are needed. A wide variety of tracking systems are available. All of them can be effective if the reports are clear enough for all partners to understand. To help with COVID-19 recovery, I have posted on my website a Household Finances Worksheet with a brief video explanation. This simple worksheet provides an easy pen-and-ink method for developing a quick financial snapshot of monthly expenses and income: Q: What’s next? Given our current COVID-19 economic environment, many families (and law partnerships) are being forced to make cuts in their spending. After cash flow is divided into the four categories (above), the opportunities for and limitations to expense reductions become much clearer. Quick cuts to spending can usually be found in the Variable Expenses (e.g., food, entertainment, recreation) and the Periodic Expenses (e.g., dependent care, vacations, gifts). Not surprisingly, Mostly Fixed Expenses are more difficult to change, while reductions in Debt Payments typically require negotiations or restructuring. I encourage people to get clear (and creative) with their understanding of the available options for spending reductions. Then prioritize the options and take action. Do not wait until the money runs out. When confronting a cash flow challenge, take action as soon as possible. Q: Clearly this process is not a one-time event. What are the parties supposed to do once they have (hopefully) had these discussions? From my experience, meeting twice a month to review finances is ideal. The meetings can be much shorter when partners meet twice a month, and problems can be addressed quickly. Monthly meetings can also be effective, but there are 30 days of transactions to review, rather than 14 days, so the meeting will be longer. The purpose of regular, rather than haphazard, financial discussions is to monitor and more effectively navigate financial reality. Partners not meeting regularly would be like driving an automobile with the gauges hidden and one eye closed. Why would you do that to yourself? Q: I’d imagine these kinds of discussions could quickly become very stressful and might produce some significant anxiety, fear, and/or anger. What recommendations would you make to keep some of these emotional issues from interfering with a successful process? Yes, talking about money can be very stressful. Financial discussions frequently trigger strong emotional responses connected to feelings around success, survival, and even self-concept. “Who am I in the world if my finances are threatened?” As I said earlier, the time and location of these conversations has a significant impact on the quality of the conversation. When participants are fully present, there are fewer misunderstandings, which reduces confusion and emotional reactivity. Self-calming techniques are always useful when navigating stressful situations (e.g., mindfulness techniques, conscious breathing, short breaks for stretching, or yoga). It is also a good idea to HALT the conversation when one or more participants are hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I believe it is important to accept and honor the significant differences that partners bring to these financial conversations. One person might be very comfortable with financial data while the other is uncomfortable. One might be low-key and calm while the other tends to be more anxious. Family of origin financial histories also run the gamut in many partnerships, and these differences must be recognized, honored, and woven into the fabric of successful financial conversations. Blame is one of the biggest culprits for derailing any financial discussion. Something about money makes finger-pointing much easier than self-reflection. When one partner starts the “blame game,” the other partner(s) will usually fire back with more blame or just withdraw into silence. To prevent these cycles, each participant must identify and take responsibility for their own tendencies toward blame. Establishing a “safe word” to end blame attacks may sound extreme, but blame is so toxic that it must be stopped if partnership financial conversations are to be successful. Finally, when partners are committed to the long-term success of their partnership, that commitment can serve as the guiding light during these discussions. A genuine (and spoken) desire to protect the partnership during times of crisis will provide both motivation and emotional grounding during difficult financial conversations. Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor Brian H. Farr, LPC
Introducing the New OAAP Blog, "Thriving Today"June 2020HTMLThe OAAP attorney counselors are pleased to bring you current information that you can use to enhance your well-being and provide you with tips and food for thought. On occasion, look for guest writers who will certainly enhance our blog content. To view blog posts or to subscribe to the blog, visit Below are the posts currently on the blog: June 8 – Why Compassion Matters May 28 – Getting Unstuck from in the Uncertain Place May 20 – The Best 12 Minutes of My Day May 8 – Oregon Legal Community Acts Kindly: The Icing on the Cake to Lawyer Well-Being Week May 6 – Inspiration: A New Breath May 5 – Acts of Kindness Improve Well-Being May 1 – Lawyer Well-Being Week Kickoff April 29 – Meaningful Social Connections and Building a Community April 21 – Now Might Be a Great Time to Start a Meditation Practice (It’s Easier Than You Think) April 8 – Things to Do While Sheltering in Place April 1 – Moving Beyond Social Distance Towards Expansive Solidarity March 26 – THRIVING…Despite Challenge: A Brief Roadmap for Lawyers
How to Comfort a Loved One During COVID-19June 2020HTMLIn the time of the coronavirus, it’s not uncommon for old friends to call or for extended family to have dinner over video chat. Your friends and family may also be reaching out for support as they grieve the loss of their typical routines and navigate the uncertainty of the future. You want to help, but it’s not always easy to know what to say to comfort someone you love – especially when physical distancing measures mean you can’t drive to your friend’s house to sit with them or give them a hug. So what can you do?  Dr. Kendra Read, an acting assistant professor with the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and an attending psychologist at Seattle Children’s, explains how you can comfort your loved ones. Check in with yourself first Before you try and talk with your loved ones about their worries, check in with yourself first. Read likens this to oxygen masks on an airplane: You have to put on your own mask before you can help someone else. “It’s important to allow time and space to care for yourself and to cope with your own emotional responses,” she says. “This will allow you to better comfort another person.” Another reason to first cope with how you are feeling? People look to one another for how to respond to events and mirror each other’s emotions. This means, if you’re trying to comfort a friend but are panicking yourself, your friend will pick up on your true feelings through your tone and facial expressions and then mimic your response. By being mindful of how you’re feeling – and how you are conveying your feelings – you will be able to better support your friends and family. Validate your friend’s emotions One of the best ways to support your friends is to let them know it’s OK to feel whatever they are feeling. Anxiety is a completely normal response to a pandemic – as is grief, frustration, and even feeling normal. “People may have a lot of different emotional reactions to the changes caused by COVID-19, and all of these reactions are acceptable and valid,” Read says. When you are talking with a friend, make sure to actively listen to what they are saying, and then let them know what they are feeling is real and normal. You don’t need to solve the problem to comfort your friend, Read notes. Just having a conversation where you support what your friend is feeling can be incredibly helpful. You can also share if you’ve been feeling some of the same things as your friend. Saying, “this has been hard for me, too” is a way to help them feel understood and less alone. Stay with the uncertainty Whether it’s in person or on the phone, there may come a point in time when you’ve listened and validated your friend’s emotions, but they aren’t feeling any better. Now what? It’s normal to feel like you don’t know what to say, and it’s important to remember that you don’t need to solve the problem or have all the answers. Instead, lean into the uncertainty. “The truth is we tackle uncertainty every minute of our lives,” Read says. “We never know what is going to happen next, and most of us typically do OK managing this.” Give your friend the time to express what they are feeling and then be there with them as they ride through their emotions. Remind them that they can handle uncertainty – and that they’ve already done so in their life every day thus far. Be with your friend (even if you’re far away) If you live with the person you are trying to comfort, giving them a hug or sitting with them while they process what they are feeling can help show them that they don’t have to face things alone. If you don’t live together, find creative ways to check in and emulate that same sense of togetherness, whether it’s a group text, call, or video chat. Even if you don’t know what to say, just staying on the line with your friend can let them know that you are there for them. And for a sense of physical closeness, Read recommends using video chat while you go about daily tasks. “Just setting up video chat when you’re both cooking dinner and hearing the sounds of each other’s lives can be comforting,” she says. Encourage self-care Help your friend find ways to care for themselves and make life more predictable during the pandemic. If they currently can’t work, they may feel bored, overwhelmed, or that their days lack meaning. Read recommends keeping some semblance of a schedule and doing small daily routines, like getting up around the same time each day and putting on new clothes (even if it’s just a fresh pair of sweatpants). Small actions can help bring a sense of control and stability – and a great way to add routine is to go back to the basics. Make a pact with your friend that you will both prioritize healthy habits to support your physical and mental health during this time. Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and food (yes, it is important to eat breakfast), and try to exercise and get some fresh air. It’s also important to take a break from scrolling. Remember how we mirror each other’s emotions and reactions? If your friend is constantly reading news updates, they are likely being bombarded with scary anecdotes and overwhelming statistics, which they can then internalize and reflect by feeling scared and overwhelmed themselves. Instead of being glued to a device and constantly checking the news, encourage your friend to set specific times when they will catch up on important information from reputable sources, like the Oregon Health Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization. Or offer to relay essential information to your friend if reading the news is too much for them at the moment. “A key piece to coping with all of our anxious thoughts is to practice being critical and selective consumers of all of this information, even our own thoughts,” Read says. “Try considering what is true, what is helpful in the moment.” Enjoy the lighter side Not everyone will want to dive into how they are feeling – and that’s OK too. Sometimes the most comforting thing is to take a break from all things coronavirus and instead have a light-hearted conversation, whether it’s discussing a funny event from your day or sharing your post-Netflix-binge thoughts on “Tiger King.” Now is also a great time to reach out to loved ones you haven’t spoken with in a while, particularly those who live alone or might need to hear a friendly voice. Schedule a virtual happy hour to not only check in, but also to reminisce about old memories, laugh, and take a moment to relax. Lean on mental health professionals and resources if you need them There may come a time when you need to reach out for some extra support. “I don’t want people to feel like they have to be a mental health professional for the ones they love,” Read says. “You don’t need to become the expert overnight.” If you feel out of your depth, it’s OK to point your friend toward online mental health resources or to encourage them to seek help from a professional. This is especially true if you are struggling with your own emotions. It’s OK to be honest and tell your friend if you are having a hard time and can’t dive into a conversation. Instead of trying to console your friend at that moment, you can tell them that you are feeling overwhelmed, too, and then maybe share an online resource that you’ve found helpful. This abundance of new online resources is just one example of the many ways people have risen up to care for their communities. For Read, these acts of support provide some hope in this difficult time. “One really positive thing coming out of all this is the way people are coming together and finding ways to connect.” It’s a silver lining that might just give you and your loved ones a little bit of comfort. Emily Boynton This article was originally published at, April 17, 2020. Copyright University of Washington 2020. Reprinted with permission.  
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OAAP Statement to the Community about Groups and CLEsMarch 2020HTMLWe are sending this notice to let you know about OAAP groups, CLEs, and event changes we are making in response to community health concerns. The Oregon Attorney Assistance Program cares deeply about the health and safety of our community. We are actively monitoring COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ( and the Oregon Health Authority (, and we are developing our response plan as recommended by these authorities, and we are aware that these conditions are changing rapidly. The current policy of the Professional Liability Fund and Oregon Attorney Assistance Program requires us to meet remotely for groups where that is a possibility and to cancel other groups and 12 step meetings through the end of April 2020. Please contact OAAP group facilitators and attorney counselors directly with questions at or 503.226.1057. Unfortunately, we will not be able to participate live at speaking engagements or CLEs. We are cancelling the OAAP/OWLS Wellness Retreat, which would have taken place April 17-18th in Sunriver. Our office remains open and all of our attorney counselors are available for individual appointments. We are happy to meet with you by phone or in person or by video conferencing and encourage you to call at any time. We are here to assist the members of the legal community. We hope that the safety protocols we are putting in place will be helpful in serving the community. Please feel free to call or contact us by email with questions. Sincerely, Shari R Pearlman, LCSW, JD on behalf of the OAAP OAAP Assistant Director / Attorney Counselor
Lawyer Well-Being WeekMarch 2020HTMLWhen our professional and organizational cultures support our well-being, we are better able to make good choices that allow us to thrive and be our best for our clients, colleagues, and organizations. Lawyer Well-Being Week, which will occur May 4-8, 2020, is a good next step which lawyers can take together. Below are suggestions from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the American Bar Association Law Practice Division and its Attorney Well-Being Committee, and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program’s (CoLAP) Well-Being Committee for participating in Lawyer Well-Being Week. You can learn more at Monday: Stay Strong - Physical Well-Being Eat well, get enough sleep, recover from stress. Minimize addictive substances. Seek help when needed. Tuesday: Align - Spiritual Well-Being Foster a sense of meaning and purpose in all aspects of life. Align life and work to serve your values. Wednesday: Engage and Grow - Occupational & Intellectual Well-Being Continuously learn and develop. Strive for personal satisfaction and growth at work. Aim for financial stability. Thursday: Connect - Social Well-Being Build connection, belonging, and a reliable support network. Contribute to groups that matter to you. Friday: Feel Well - Emotional Well-Being Understand, identify, and use emotions well. Seek help for mental health when needed.        
The Introvert Lawyer's Guide to NetworkingMarch 2020HTMLA few years ago, a meme that I found hilarious circulated the internet. It read “Introverts of the world unite! Separately. In your own homes.” That meme is both true and not true, and maybe that’s why it is funny. It is true because introverts tend not to like large group activities, but it is also not true because it doesn’t mean they can’t do the things that we tend to categorize as activities for extroverts. I’m a trial lawyer, I love public speaking, and I am an introvert. Networking is a part of professional life for most lawyers, even introverts like me. Over the years, I’ve picked up some strategies that have allowed me to do the networking I have to do to advance my practice without draining myself or causing too much suffering. Here they are. Follow Your Passion In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain identifies Eleanor Roosevelt as an introvert. Yes, the indomitable and expectation-defying First Lady is classified as someone who preferred quiet life and enjoyed solitude or small groups. How did Roosevelt manage to do the work she had to do as First Lady? Cain posits that she followed her passion. In other words, Roosevelt was motivated to positively impact the world and drew courage and inspiration from that. There’s a good lesson here for all of us. Networking for lawyers does not have to follow any set path. To do it well, you really just need to get out of your office and engage with the community. Find a cause that matters to you or even something you just find fun and go for it. When you really believe in a cause or just enjoy an activity, you will likely find it much easier to handle large group activities or even public speaking. Know the Power of One Networking often gets conflated with attending networking events, like happy hours, but that is not the only way to do it. Introverts are experts at the inner life so we may be better at finding ways to deeply connect with people in a way that others will remember for a long time. Capitalize on this skill! In particular, don’t underestimate the value of one-on-one or small group lunch dates. Don’t forget that your book club with a few friends is still networking. The goal of networking is to expand your social circle and build your reputation with new people. If you keep at it, consistently and over time, you will expand your reach substantially even if you meet only a few new people at a time. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your office to expand and tend to your network. One of my favorite things to do is to write notes to friends and contacts. This may seem small but can have huge benefits. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discussed the impressive social network that one well-known connector developed in part by sending birthday cards to all of the loose contacts he developed in his daily life. In other words, networking does not have to be big and flashy. If it is consistently and authentically done, small acts over time can help even the quietest of introverts develop an impressive and loyal social network. Grin and Bear It As we all know, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. Thus, at a certain point, most lawyer introverts are going to have to learn to deal with larger social events at least part of the time. If you treat yourself with compassion and keep trying, this will eventually get easier. Early in my practice, I hated going to networking events because it made my feeling of being a kid play-acting at being a lawyer go into overdrive. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what to say. And it just felt awkward and awful. My answer: I joined the happy hour committee with my local chamber of commerce and eventually chaired it. As a committee member, it was my job to not only attend but also welcome new attendees. I found that, because it was my job, it was a lot easier to approach new people and start conversations. With practice and over time, I built skills and new contacts. After a few months, the conversation was effortless and even fun. In other words, introversion is a tendency, but it doesn’t have to be a destiny. With time and attention, you can build skills and confidence that make large social interactions much less challenging and more fun. Remember to Recharge I have to return to Susan Cain here because her book is one that all introverts should read since her definition of introversion is the best I’ve heard. She defines introverts as people who in general crave less – not socialization – but stimulation. This often translates as an avoidance of large social activities because those tend to be the circumstances in which introverts may become over stimulated, worn down, or grumpy. In large social gatherings, there is stimulation galore: activity, noise, and the stress of coming up with things to say. When I went through leadership development programs, I often jokingly called the sessions an “introvert’s nightmare” because we would travel around in groups of 40 or more all day, without any real break, and often in close quarters. I loved the people in these programs, but this was exhausting. The thing that helped me the most was making a concerted effort to recharge whenever I had the chance. If we got even a short break, I would go meditate or take a quick walk by myself. If we didn’t, I brought headphones and took 5 minutes to meditate or listen to calming music on the bus. These small breaks helped me rest and recharge so I did not get overstimulated and could enjoy the rest of the activities. You don’t have to meditate necessarily, but if you can find a way to relax (i.e., manage your intake of stimulation) before or after large social activities, it may help you be present for and enjoy them more. In short, networking is something introvert lawyers can and should do. But networking for introverts may not look exactly like networking for extroverts.  And you know what? That’s okay. All lawyers must find a style of practice that works for them, so it makes sense that we all must also find a style of networking that suits our personalities. In sum and to borrow from another meme, I say to my fellow introvert lawyers, keep calm and network. Claire E. Parsons Member, Adams, Stepner, Woltermann, & Dusing, PLLC This article was originally published April 25, 2018, for Ms. JD. Reprinted with permission.  
Perspectives: Lawyers and MarijuanaMarch 2020HTMLWe recently had the opportunity to talk with some lawyers who agreed to share their experiences in using and in trying to stop using marijuana. Below are some of their comments – how and when they started using, how their use progressed, and what they did in meeting the challenges they faced with their pot use. When did you start using and what was your early use like? I was 16 when I first started smoking pot. I started smoking at 17 right before my senior year in high school. At first, I wasn’t using daily, but it slowly, gradually progressed. At the start, I felt like my use was casual; I simply used because I wanted to, not because I had to. (Or at least that’s what I told myself.) Initially, I resisted using any drugs other than alcohol. I had a family member who was a drug addict, and I told myself I would never be like that person. However, I found myself using pot at a party, and I felt it gave me many of the same benefits as alcohol, but without any of the negative consequences. Pot made me feel like I fit in. It made everything seem better … family problems, social anxiety; basically it calmed the discomforts of life. Did you use in college/law school? By the time I got to college, and throughout law school, I was using pretty much every day. I got good grades and didn’t really see my pot use as a problem with my studies. I felt like I was “high functioning” and could do well despite my increasing pot use. During my college years, I was arrested for possession and also was involved in a vehicular incident where someone was hurt, but this did not impede my pot use. During my law school orientation, I remember a faculty member talking about life issues including addiction. We were told, “If you’re using a drug that you started using recreationally and it now has control of your life, you should contact the OAAP.” The words resonated with me and gave me some hope … but I still wasn’t ready to stop. I only applied to law schools in those states where pot was legal. My tolerance was definitely increasing – I kept needing to use more and more. By this time, I was using mostly edibles and oils because of the higher THC concentrations. I even had THC sugar packets for my coffee. How did your using progress as a practicing lawyer? Once I became a lawyer, my use continued to increase. I told myself that my pot use was mainly stress-related. By the last time I tried to quit, I was smoking several times throughout the day. It had become a ritual. I experimented with edibles and vaping, but found smoking gave me the kind of high that I felt like I needed. What were one or two of the primary factors that encouraged you to stop using pot? I just felt like my use was totally out of control. Family and friends were telling me that I smoked too much. I felt like my pot use was affecting my personal relationships, including my family relationships. I felt I wasn’t as present as I should have been and wanted to be. As my pot use increased during my practice, it seemed like I was turning inward and becoming more and more isolated from the people around me. When my pot use was at its highest, I found I was working less at the office. I felt isolated; I didn’t care about much of anything. Had you tried to stop using before? I had tried to stop a few times, but never for very long. Yes, I’d tried to stop before. But my efforts generally had less to do with me actually wanting to stop and more because of external pressures, like fear of being caught or being tested. I tried a few times to stop. In law school, I contacted an OAAP attorney counselor. I got a few weeks of clean time, felt OK, and thought I was “fixed” and I could use again. So I did, and it wasn’t long until I was right back to where I had been before. Did you have challenges getting into recovery? If so, what got in your way? The main thing that kept me from quitting pot was just plain inertia. I looked at a treatment program years ago, but it was too expensive. I never tried going to 12-step meetings, primarily because I thought that was only for alcoholics and addicted people off the street, not someone like me. It was only later that I found out how wrong I had been about 12-step meetings. Once I decided to get help, it really wasn’t that hard. I contacted the OAAP and worked with one of their attorney counselors. I kept saying, “I can handle this by myself.” Even though I knew what I needed to do, I basically just wasn’t ready to stop my pot use. I did not get into recovery when I probably should have. I resisted and delayed to avoid seriously doing anything about my pot use. I just isolated and self-medicated. Initially, I told myself that perhaps my pot use over the years had changed my brain chemistry, and maybe I needed THC on a daily basis just to feel normal. What kinds of things, activities, and/or practices do you do to maintain your recovery? Trying to get regular exercise and going to my MA (Marijuana Anonymous) meetings. I average about two meetings per week. I have learned to ask for help when I need it. 12-step meetings are probably the focal point of my recovery. They are a really important part of my life today. Many of my friends are in recovery and that’s very supportive for me. I do pro bono work in the community. I seek outside help, which means I talk with my counselor at the OAAP about professional and recovery-related issues. I also have a therapist for other issues. I have a recovery “sponsor,” someone who is in longer-term recovery and is available for me to talk with and be supportive and encouraging. One thing I’ve learned is that my recovery must be a priority in my life. I am in a long-term personal relationship, and have a career that I like and where people depend on me. I even just got a puppy. I need to keep in mind that I wouldn’t have any of those things if I went back to using. Has your life in recovery affected your personal relationships and/or your professional life? If so, how? Primarily, I’m more present with the people who are important in my life. And I feel better about myself because I addressed my problem. First of all, I actually have relationships now. Prior to recovery, I lived alone, and I didn’t have many friends. I had pushed family away and those relationships became frayed. In recovery, prior relationships that had become problematic gradually began to heal. I became more willing to be part of other people’s lives and let them in. I actually met my partner in recovery. I’m able to be present for my extended family, even though we live far apart. In my professional life, I find I get more work done. In recovery, I have learned how to have healthy relationships with my professional colleagues, co-workers, and clients. I’ve learned to be more flexible, to learn from my colleagues, and to be better able to talk candidly with my clients. I think they respect that. Respect is not something I thought I could get when I was using, but now I feel it’s possible. What have you noticed most about how life was/is different for you in recovery? Simple: It feels good not to be under the control of a habit. One thing for me that has changed is that I find I have a more positive view of myself. I no longer have a worldview that the glass is always half empty – today I am more positive about life. I’m more focused on what I can give rather than what I can get. As part of my recovery, I get to work with other people who are struggling. I find this very rewarding. Are there any tips you would give to a lawyer considering getting into recovery? Overcoming an addictive or habitual use of drugs is generally something you cannot do on your own. “Find your tribe” – find others who are struggling with the same issues or problems and who are coming together seeking recovery. Explore the recovery meetings at the OAAP, recovery meetings like Marijuana Anonymous (MA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Trust your intuition. If you think that you might have a problem, seek the help that’s available, whether that’s individual counseling, treatment, or 12-step programs. Give yourself a chance. When using, I lacked imagination as to what my life could be in recovery. I didn’t know I could live without drugs and alcohol. I thought I needed them to be social, to quiet the noise in my head. I learned I really didn’t need these substances. A sober life is a life worth living. Our special thanks to the lawyers who shared their perspectives with us. OAAP has four confidential recovery meetings every week for Oregon lawyers, judges, and law students. Call 503.226.1057 or 800.321.6227. Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor Bryan R. Welch, JD, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor  
March 2020 Full IssueMarch 2020PDF
Technology and Mental HealthDecember 2019HTMLHow Lawyers Are Affected by Devices and Social Media and What to Do About It A few years ago, I was sitting in a partner’s office discussing what he described as the “good ole days.” He told me that without question the thing that made practicing law take a nosedive in terms of lifestyle and stress was the invention of the fax machine. I was amazed to hear him describe those days and to consider how the fax and other technologies have changed practicing law in the past few decades. If you really think about it, everything is different today. Prior to the modern era, we spent thousands of years being outside most of the time and hunting or gathering or doing physical work – not sitting sedentary at a desk stressing out over deadlines and paperwork. Now, Americans sit behind desks and stare at screens for an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes each day.1 Americans are watching more than seven hours and 50 minutes per day of television per household.2 Likewise, people are averaging 24 hours per week on the Internet3 and three to four hours per day on smartphones.4 For lawyers, a group already burdened with extraordinary anxiety and mental health challenges, the impact of these uses of technology could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Lawyers already have a high rate of depression, as compared with other occupational groups in the U.S.5 We also experience depression 3.6 times as often as the general population.6 Furthermore, we have staggering substance use numbers (21% of all attorneys and 32% of those under 30). In 2015, 46% of 13,000 attorneys admitted struggling with depression while practicing law, and most attorneys (61%) have suffered symptoms of serious anxiety disorders.7 Research: How Technology and Social Media Affect Mental Health Several recent studies have examined the impact of technology and social media on mental health. The results are alarming. A 2010 study established a relationship between depression and text messaging and emailing.8 There is also a link between Facebook and depression due to increased social comparison and envy or disappointment in one’s status.9 Lawyers are the ultimate multitaskers, but research indicates that multitasking is very damaging to our mental health and can be a cause of depression.10 Nokia conducted a study back in 2011 that found the average person looks at his or her smartphone 150 times per day11 and there is little doubt this is worse for lawyers. Consider these statistics regarding technology: 58% of adults and 68% of young adults do not go an hour without checking their smartphones; 73% feel panicked when they misplace their device; 54% check it in bed; 39% check it while using the toilet; and 30% check it while dining with others.12 A 2011 study showed that young adults averaged 109.5 text messages per day and over 3,200 per month.13 In 2014, adult Americans sent an average of 32 text messages per day. Three years later, teens and adults sent 94 text messages per day.14 We clearly have a serious problem. Time Spent on Screens per Week 26-36 Hours on Television 19-28 Hours on Smartphone 25+ Hours on a PC in the Office WEEKLY: 71-89+ Hours Staring at Screens DAILY: 10-13+ Hours Staring at Screens Five Strategies for Lawyers to Make Healthy Changes to Their Use of Technology Set Limits Setting some boundaries around the use of technology may be the most effective first step to establishing reasonable limits to the impact technology has on an attorney’s mental health: Check email two to three times per day: If possible, check email when you get to work, around the lunch hour, and again toward the end of the day. This is a great way to disconnect and become more productive while also giving your mind a break from the technology overload. Limit social media to 10 minutes per platform per day: One recent study indicated that limiting use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to 10 minutes per day per platform decreases your sense of loneliness. 15 Monitor your use with Screen Time or another application: As ironic as it sounds, in the case of making change in the overuse of technology, the Screen Time app may just be a good thing. Disconnect While setting limits may be helpful, cutting technology off completely for periods of time is essential to good mental health. Use Do Not Disturb: When you go to the gym or for a walk, use it. Give yourself a break from the constant interruptions from text messages, emails, and updates. Turn off notifications: A lot of lawyers do not even know that all the “breaking news,” texts, Facebook notifications, etc., that pop up on the locked screen of a smartphone can be easily turned off. On an iPhone (and most Android phones), you can simply go to settings and select notifications and turn “off” notifications for any application you choose. Do not charge your phone beside bed: Lawyers can’t sleep, remember something they forgot, and end up on a rabbit trail and losing more sleep. Try to charge your phone in a place that would require you to get out of bed to look at it. Manage the Apps Instead of trying to “moderate” your use of apps, you can delete the applications you waste the most time on, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Likewise, you can improve your smartphone experience by installing healthy apps, such as some of the self-care apps like Calm, Headspace, MyFitnessPal, etc. Unfollow the Unhealthy Everyone that I know has at least one or two friends on Facebook who are train wrecks. Instead of being inundated with negative messages from these people on a daily basis, unfollow them! Replace them by following new resources and people that are uplifting. Plug in to Self-Care Do you deserve 4% of your life? Four percent of your life is about one hour per day. Most lawyers I know do not take an hour per day for self-care. If we do not put it on our calendar, we usually exhaust all of our time and energy taking care of our clients and our families. For these reasons, I challenge attorneys to calendar three things a week for self-care and to explore some of the many things that can make a difference in an attorney’s wellness, such as mindfulness, gratitude journaling, service work, exercise, creative art, and more. By Chris Ritter, Director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program This article was originally published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Reprinted with permission. As we continue to strive to find a healthy balance in our lives in how we relate to technology, it is important to remember that this is only one area in which lawyers struggle. If you or a colleague are a lawyer, law student, or judge and need help, the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program is available to provide guidance and support. It’s confidential and free. Call us at 1.800.321.6227. Notes: See Jacqueline Howard, “Americans Devote More Than 10 Hours a Day to Screen Time,” CNN (July 29, 2016, 4:22 PM), See Alex C. Madrigal, “When Did TV Watching Peak?,” The Atlantic (May 30, 2018), See Charles Hymas, “A Decade of Smartphones: We Now Spend an Entire Day Every Week Online,” The Daily Telegraph (Aug. 2, 2018, 12:01 AM), Id. See Lawyrence S. Krieger & Kennon M. Sheldon, “What Makes Lawyers Happy? Transcending the Anecdotes with Data from 200 Lawyers”, 83 Geo. Wash. U. L. Rev. 554 (2015); see also Rosa Flores & Rose Marie Arce, “Why Are Lawyers Killing Themselves?,” CNN (Jan. 20, 2014, 2:42 PM), See William Eaton, et al., “Occupations and the Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder,” 32 J. Occupational Med. 1079, 1085 tbl. 3 (1990). Id. See Mohamed Farouk Allam, “Letter to the Editor, Excessive Internet Use and Depression: Cause-Effect Bias?,” 43 Psychopathology 5 (2010). See Helmut Appel, Jan Crusius & Alexander L. Gerlach, “Social Comparison, Envy, and Depression on Facebook: A Study Looking at the Effects of High Comparison Standards on Depressed Individuals,” 34 J. of Social and Clinical Psychology 4, 277-289 (2015). See L.D. Rosen, et al., “Is Facebook Creating ‘iDisorders’? The Link Between Clinical Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders and Technology Use, Attitudes and Anxiety,” 29 Computers in Human Behavior 1243-1254 (2013). See Ben Spencer, “Mobile users can’t leave their phone alone for six minutes and check it up to 150 times a day,” The Daily Mail (Feb. 10, 2013, 2:49 PM), See C.S. Andreassen, T. Torsheim, G.S. Brunborg & S. Pallesen, “Development of a Facebook Addiction Scale,” 110 Psychological Reports 2, 501-517 (2012). See Aaron Smith, “How Americans Use Text Messaging,” Pew Research Center Internet & Technology (Sept. 19 2011), See Kenneth Burke, “How Many Texts Do People Send Every Day (2018)?,” Text Request (November 2018), See Melissa G. Hung, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson & Jordyn Young, “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression,” 37 J. of Social and Clinical Psychology 10, 751-768 (2018).  
Life Never StopsDecember 2019HTMLLife is good and life is full, but there are days when it is just hard to stay focused and days when it is hard to find appreciation for the richness that is my life.  And that is what it looks like to be on this journey following my divorce. But with intention, strength, sometimes vulnerability and support, I am mostly doing well. When my ex decided to leave our long-term marriage, it was first a shock, but then, upon reflection, perhaps not so shocking at all. The relationship had fallen into unhealthy patterns, and it was best for the two of us to part ways. In order to recover, I needed to know what I was recovering from.  I also needed to do lots of work, so I signed myself up for therapy and began a new look at old patterns. I strengthened bonds with friends and gave up some unhealthy friendships, too. Being intentional about using my free time became a priority as some of my free time was being taken up by logistics of divorce, i.e., separating out our stuff, talking to lawyers/mediators, and processing loss. I had less time and energy for all of the people in my circle and soon realized that I needed to clarify and prioritize friendships that were mutual and fulfilling and with give and take. I cultivated some friendships into closer bonds and then was able to give up those relationships that weren’t as healthy. There just wasn’t space for me to give attention to as many people when I had a full-time job and needed space to process my own emotions and crossroads. I needed to take care of my brain, body, and soul and focus on intentionally eating well and exercising when possible. I tried to give myself breaks when I ate the wrong thing or couldn’t get out of bed to do my morning workout. I nourished myself with good friends and lots of travel and activities. Grief was overwhelming at first, but soon I was able to contain it. I needed to grieve the loss of marriage, family structure, and the death of the dream of our future together. I kept thinking, we built so much, how do I dismantle it? I soon learned that I could keep the good memories and knowledge and find places in my heart/head for the unpleasant ones. I processed grief by allowing space to cry and remember, by talking with friends and a good therapist, and by even talking with my ex. While the grief was ebbing and flowing, I needed to sort through where I wanted to live, how I was going to spend my time, and what things large and small, from furniture to photos to knickknacks, that I wanted to keep. The sorting process took time and sometimes expertise. I used a realtor friend to explore living options and read a book about clearing space. I also asked my friends for help, which caused me to be vulnerable, as I was accustomed to being the helper. I needed to physically change things externally as well as internally. I created a new look to my home and had a girlfriend party where I gave away stuff to them, they helped me pack and clear, and then we gave items to charity and the dump. I saved stuff in my crawl space that were mementos, figuring I could re-sort later.  In the end, I reclaimed my house and made it my home. The reclaiming didn’t stop there. I started to intentionally go to places “we” used to go but went with friends and made sure they helped me do some small ritual to shift the place for me so that I would feel renewed appreciation for places and make new memories. I have learned to discern what to do next by training myself to answer the question honestly as to what do I want and need for me today? I try not to overdo it and forgive myself when I do.  When I have tough moments, I am quiet, go for a walk, remind myself how fortunate I am to have a good life, job, friends, and family. I am currently working on new dreams for the future, too. I like to travel and began planning and enjoying more trips. I am able to explore possibilities for where I want to live and what I would like to do one day if/when I retire. At first, I could not even see beyond today. And speaking of today, I try to live intentionally and presently most days, too. By Anonymous
Grow Your GratitudeDecember 2019HTMLBecause how you think about yourself and everything around you is more important to your happiness than your actual objective circumstances, increasing your attention to all the good things in your life can significantly enhance your happiness. Multiple studies have shown the positive power of gratitude (e.g., Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Lyubomirsky, Sheldon et al., 2005; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2006). People who are consistently grateful are happier; more energetic; and less depressed, anxious, and envious (Lyubomirsky, 2008). Three Good Things One well-tested activity is to take time once a week to write down three or more things for which you’re grateful. Studies have shown that people who do this activity for six weeks markedly increase their happiness (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon et al., 2005). It’s also important to vary your gratitude activities so that you don’t get bored. The good effects can wear off if you do the same activity all the time. Below is a list of different gratitude activities for you to try. Pick one day each week to do your gratitude activity (e.g., Thankful Thursdays), and then pick an activity. Try one for three or more weeks and then switch to another. Gratitude Journal Once a week, think about everything – large and small – for which you are thankful (e.g., was well prepared for a meeting, family member made a delicious dinner, tulips are blooming). Think about things you’re good at, advantages you’ve had, people who care about you and have touched your life. Then pick three to five things and write a brief note about them. Try out a gratitude journal website or smartphone app (e.g., Gratitude Journal by Happy Tapper), which will send you regular reminders. Appreciative Art Engage in something artistic to express your gratitude to another. Draw or paint a picture, make a collage, sculpt with clay, or write a poem, a song, or a story. Studies indicate that art creation boosts mood (Dalebroux, Goldstein, & Winner, 2008). Evidence suggests that art-making that depicted something happy was more effective at improving short-term mood than using art to vent negative emotions (Dalebroux et al., 2008). Evidence also indicates that a variety of different art-making activities (e.g., drawing, painting, collage-making, clay work, etc.) may reduce anxiety (Sandmire, Gorham, Rankin & Grimm, 2012). So engaging in an appreciative art activity may give you benefits both from artistic engagement and from your grateful thinking. Gratitude Photo Collage Taking and sharing “selfies” is popular, but try this, too. For a week, keep a lookout for everyday things for which you’re grateful (e.g., your dog, a warm garage in winter, dinner with friends, your family) and take photos of them. At the end of the week, post them all on your favorite social networking website with fun notes. Research shows that sharing good things with others (the more the better) actually increases your enjoyment of them (Gable,  Reis, et al, 2004; Gable & Gosnell, 2011). So share your photos with friends and explain why they represent something for which you’re grateful. Gratitude Letter Think about the people for whom you feel grateful – a family member, old friends, a colleague, a good boss. Write a letter expressing your gratitude and, if you can, visit that person and read it aloud or call them on the phone. Describe in detail what they did for you and how they affected your life. You might even write a letter to people who are helpful everyday but whom you don’t know – e.g., postal carriers, garbage removers, bus drivers, politicians, authors. You might also choose to write a letter and not deliver it. One study showed that participants who spent 15 minutes writing gratitude letters once a week over an eight-week period became happier during and after the study (Lyubomirsky, 2008). Gratitude Jar Designate a jar or other container as the Gratitude Jar and invite others to drop notes in whenever someone does something helpful. Then read the notes aloud once a week. Use this activity with your coworkers, family, friends – any group that spends significant time together. This article was published in the ABA Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers, created by Anne M. Brafford. Reprinted with permission. References: Dalebroux, A., Goldstein, T. R., & Winner, E. (2008). “Short-term mood repair through art-making: Positive emotion is more effective than venting,” Motivation and Emotion, 32, 288-295. Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003). “Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E., & Asher, E. R. (2004). “What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228-245. Gable, S. L. & Gosnell, C. L. (2011). “The positive side of close relationships.” In K. M. Sheldon, T. B. Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), “Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward,” (pp. 265-279). New York: Oxford University Press. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K., & Schkade, D. (2005). “Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change,” Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). “How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves,” The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73-82.
December 2019 Full IssueDecember 2019PDF
Happier Where You Are, or Getting to a Better PlaceSeptember 2019HTMLLawyering is stressful. Many lawyers expect to handle the pressures of solving individuals’ high-stakes, emotionally charged problems. What lawyers don’t necessarily anticipate is that they may suffer stress from being stuck in a work situation that is not their first choice. Competition for jobs may mean that a lawyer needs to accept work outside his or her preferred area of practice, work for a difficult boss, or work in a high-pressure, long-hours environment. The ultimate cure for this kind of stress is to find work that is a better fit. But if there are good reasons for sticking it out for a while, there are steps you can take to be happier where you are. When work is uninspiring (or outside your preferred area) There may be times in your career when you may need to accept work in an area of practice outside your main area of interest. You may even have to do rote or low-autonomy work. After putting in the effort to obtain a legal education, this can be very discouraging. For financial or personal reasons, you may have decided that you need to stay put until something better comes along. What can you do to find meaning in uninspiring work? Hone general skills. Regardless of the context, there are certain skills you can hone in almost any legal environment. You can gain proficiency with unfamiliar technologies. You can work on your writing style, aiming for clarity and effectiveness. You can develop your listening skills. Improve whatever skills you can, so that when the right opportunity comes along, you’re more likely to be an excellent candidate for the job. Practice self-analysis. Make an effort to learn from your frustration. What are you looking for that you feel is lacking in your current work? Do you crave one-on-one interaction with clients? The authority to make decisions? Variety in the legal issues you encounter? Identifying the features of the right work for you can help identify what you would like to do instead, helping you to steer your future career development. In the meantime, if you feel you can have a positive conversation with your current co-workers and/or practice leaders, let them know how you would like to grow. They are busy, too – maybe they have not turned their minds to your aspirations, and there could yet be a win-win outcome achieved. Find your inspiration elsewhere. Work need not be the sole source of your personal fulfillment. If your work doesn’t offer opportunities to use skills that you value, you can try using those skills in other parts of your life. If you enjoy public speaking but don’t get to do it at work, you could look for opportunities to do so in your community, perhaps in connection with a hobby. If you enjoy being a leader but are very junior in your workplace, you might seek leadership roles in community organizations. If you find fulfillment in making a difference for people in need, and your area of practice does not align with that personal value, you can donate your time and skills to charitable organizations that inspire you. Instead of letting an uninspiring job sour your overall attitude about life, use your energy to build a more satisfying personal and community life. You may also develop competencies that serve you well in your next – and more inspiring – work environment. Put a limit on it. If you are truly miserable in your current situation, mitigate your negative feelings by treating your current position as a time-limited experiment. Determine how long you are willing to stay, define what needs to change and which strategies you are willing to employ to effect those changes, and commit to moving on if you don’t see progress. In the meantime, maintain your network of contacts and your positive relationships with coworkers. In other words, don’t “check out.” When you have a difficult supervisor or colleague Interpersonal problems can add an enormous amount of stress to work life. A recent Danish study1 found that a feeling of being treated unfairly by one’s boss is likely to lead to worker depression, much more so than a heavy workload. What can you do to minimize the impact of a difficult supervisor on your mood and mental health? Practice non-attachment. The most powerful thing you can do to minimize the impact of a supervisor’s or colleague’s actions on your mental health is to actively resist taking those actions personally. It’s important to give appropriate consideration to feedback and to put effort into finding ways to collaborate, but when a supervisor or colleague’s demands or criticisms are unreasonable or excessive, they can generate counterproductive stress. Everyone starts out wanting to make a good impression, but once it becomes clear that a supervisor or colleague’s support and approval are being unreasonably withheld, it’s emotionally healthier to practice “non-attachment” – a concept embraced by Buddhist practitioners, among others. Non-attachment involves letting go of one’s desires, including one’s investment in particular outcomes, such as winning the approval of others. Non-attachment can help you weather a wide range of challenging situations and emotions. The article “Let it R.A.I.N. – a journey into mindfulness” on offers a four-step process for handling difficult emotions. Another clever technique to avoid taking a colleague’s actions personally is to imagine yourself as an actor playing a role, and to “watch” yourself enduring an unpleasant interaction, rather than feeling yourself enduring it. What do you have to say for yourself? What are the feelings you observe? What is your facial expression? Seeing yourself from the perspective of an outside observer, and making adjustments to your own behavior can help you feel like you have some control over the situation. Fail better. Doron Gold, Staff Clinician and Presenter with the Law Society’s Member Assistance Program (MAP)2, notes that particularly in the early years of their careers, many lawyers have a sense of irretrievability: they believe that if they make a mistake they will never recover. The truth is that there are very few permanent mistakes. Working in an environment in which it feels like you can’t do anything right may be a golden opportunity to take risks that help you learn and grow. If you’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, why not take bolder risks? Fail bigger and better – propose the strategies and defend the positions you truly support. Impress yourself. If there is no way to impress your boss or colleagues, at least you can impress yourself by practicing according to your personal convictions. Learn how to generate internal motivation and a strong sense of self-worth. This kind of personal development will serve you well throughout your career. One of the dangers of working with a difficult person is that a steady diet of criticism can lead you to doubt your own abilities and to undervalue your skills when it comes time to look for new work. Try to keep a sense of perspective on your skills and protect your self-image. Got a compliment from a judge, a colleague, or a client? Remember it, and give it at least as much weight as you give to the negative feedback you are receiving. No mentors? Look further afield. Instead of stewing about the lack of role models within your workplace, look outside the organization for mentors in the profession. As long as you are respectful of their time, many lawyers will be happy to teach you a thing or two. When the hours are long or the pressure is high (or both) Depending on the nature of your legal career, the hours may be long, unpredictable, or both. Feeling tired in the face of a grueling schedule is normal; feeling hopeless and depressed is not. Don’t ignore symptoms and thoughts that go beyond the normal stress associated with a demanding job. Rethink your reactions. It’s a cliché, but there is some truth to it: life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent about how you react. Consider trying to change how you think about your workload. After all, the work will still be there whether you feel stressed or calm in the face of it. See the passage above about non-attachment, and remind yourself that feeling stress is not the only possible reaction available to you. Be clear about the “why.” When your workload is high enough to cause you significant stress, it’s important to reflect on why you have chosen your particular career. There are areas of practice, locations, and organizations in which you can practice law without working extremely long hours. If you find yourself in an especially high-pressure work situation, consider whether the sacrifices are worth it. When asked how they cope with very long hours, many lawyers explain that they feel that the work they do aligns with their values and gives them a strong sense of purpose. Feeling as though you are making a difference and doing work that has value can greatly reduce your stress. If, on the other hand, you don’t experience this sense of personal reward, long hours are harder to justify. Live well outside of work. If you have no power over your work schedule, you can improve your life satisfaction by working on things over which you do have control. In other words, make sure the rest of your life is the way you want it. To cope better even on stress-filled days, be sure to take the time to eat properly, get some exercise, prioritize sleep, and get out in the fresh air and sunlight. Many people find that meditation, mindfulness practice, or yoga help them feel calmer and more centered. Finally, take the time to nurture existing relationships with family and friends, and strive to build new ones. Having a supportive social circle can reduce your stress, make your days feel more meaningful, and even improve your physical health. Invest in yourself Hardly anyone spends their entire career in his or her “dream job,” and many lawyers will work in less-than-ideal settings. Invest in the best version of yourself by taking steps to be happier where you are, and you will be ready when opportunity finally knocks. Footnotes: – The findings of the study were published in three articles in the scientific journals Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Psychoneuroendocrinology and The Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. See a summary at: – The Member Assistance Program (MAP), co-funded by the Law Society of Upper Canada and by LawPRO, can be reached at 1.855.403.8922 (TTY: 1.866.433.3305). Online resources can be accessed at Copyright 2015 Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company. Originally appeared in LAWPRO Magazine’s September 2015 issue, Finding your blue sky. These and other materials are available at  
Beating the OddsSeptember 2019HTMLI consider myself extremely lucky. I was born in Compton in the 1950s as one of five children. My father had several strokes – and a debilitating one when I was 4 years old. Despite the health risks involved, he worked on the railroad daily with his pick and shovel. I will always admire and respect him for supporting his family at all costs. After the second stroke, my dad was declared disabled and received $108 a month in disability pay. My resourceful mom fed a family of seven and paid the bills. Recently, I assisted my mom when she was gravely ill. I found a second mortgage on the house. She never mentioned it but used it to help us make it. One by one, the older kids dropped out of school to support the family. My dad died in 1969. That left a hole in my heart for years. In August 1965, the Watts riots happened in California. The riots were a spontaneous, desperate combustion about the African American community being unseen and uncared for. But in 1965, I couldn’t conceptualize it. I just knew I was afraid. I also lost my best friend in that my library was burned to the ground. As a young person, when I was reading, I got so involved in the book and the stories that I forgot that I was cold or hot or hungry or ill. Books kept me going. I felt like I lost my best friend that day. As a result of the riots, money started coming into our community. I was a fairly good student because I realized that education was my best chance for a better life. In middle school, I had an opportunity to participate in a program called Project Open Future. The program identified underprivileged talented and gifted students in the Los Angeles area to provide educational enrichment. I could spend five weeks every summer at Santa Barbara-area boarding schools with volunteer teachers and students from private schools. The second summer I was placed in a school called Midland. A teacher there thought I could be competitive in the English classes he taught and encouraged me to apply as a student at that school. Three weeks later, my life changed irrevocably for the better. I had catching up to do, but I excelled and worked hard. I was told that I could go to any school based on my academic record. I chose to go to a southern California school to be closer to home. I went in with a great deal of confidence and did well in college. I was a psychology major, but after three years, I realized that I didn’t want to study that anymore. The placement officer asked if I’d thought about law. I said no, I had never really considered it. She told me that lawyers counsel and help people with their lives and their issues. I thought, I don’t know that I want to study law. She connected me to the Dean of Students from Willamette College of Law. We clicked. I admired him because of his intelligence, his conversational skills, and his humanity. We talked about Oregon and how Oregon schools were looking to increase their diversity. I remember asking him a couple of things. I said that I would really miss the beaches. He said they had beautiful beaches in Oregon. He failed to mention that they are freezing. I also asked about the weather. It happened to be raining outside at the time. He said the weather was very similar to here. I was accepted and came to Oregon, but unlike in California, I was the only Latino student in the whole school. I thought maybe I had made a huge mistake. The Hispanic population was concentrated in rural areas, and I felt really isolated and out of place. One day, I saw a fellow who looked like he was a few years older than me and looked like he might be Hispanic. I introduced myself. He was, in fact, Hispanic and was working for legal aid. I instantly had a mentor. Up until then, I had never even spoken to a lawyer. We are friends to this day. He was a big source of inspiration to me to stick it out and to figure out what I wanted to do and do it. I was fairly young when I graduated from law school at 24 and felt immature. I couldn’t imagine advising people about their lives. So I took an administrative job for a few years, after which I felt it was time for me to learn the trade. I wanted to work as a public defender to learn to try cases. There were a few other Hispanics when I got sworn in. I got accepted to work at the Public Defender’s office. Despite the fact that the first day was a total train wreck, my wife encouraged me to go back to work. Gradually, things started improving. I had my first trial 90 days after starting the job. I was really nervous that I might be discounted as a lawyer because I was a minority. But I could tell the jurors were thinking, if this guy is a minority lawyer, he really has something on the ball. I thought I had really found my professional home. Several years later my wife and I opened our own firm to the Latino community. I talked about my dream to friends, who thought I was crazy, believing that the Latino community wouldn’t have resources to hire lawyers. Fortunately, they were wrong, and together we had a flow of gratifying cases. My wife practiced personal injury law, while I did public defender work. One of the wonderful things about being a niche lawyer in Oregon is that people get to know you and your reputation and refer cases to you. We had a successful practice for 25 years. One day a judge asked me if I had ever thought about being a judge. He talked about how gratifying it was to do a lot of good and exercise your intellectual capability to the fullest. Because my wife and I were doing so well in our practice and had three little kids we needed to put through school, I didn’t feel I could go down that path at that time. But I never lost sight of the possible dream. Then I got a call of encouragement from the governor’s office. They told me that the governor was interested in talking to me. So I put in an application and was vetted. My letters of recommendation included a prosecutor and a former client who was a convicted felon. When I interviewed with the governor he said, “well, judge, what do you want to talk about?” It was a very emotional moment for me, knowing that something I had dreamed about had come to fruition. I have loved every minute of it. It’s an incredible calling. I see people from every walk of life. I see gifted lawyers. I see struggling lawyers. But we all see hope. No matter what the situation is, there is always hope. I had the opportunity to be a drug court judge for a few years. I saw the impact of despair and struggle on people’s lives. I had the chance to make an impact on people. People still come up to me and tell me how they’re doing. I also love this job because it keeps me sharp mentally. It’s like visiting a river. It’s never the same two days in a row. The day doesn’t necessarily turn out how you thought, but it’s always interesting. My judicial philosophy is to make decisions that will enable me to sleep at night. My advice to others is to live life with your eyes and ears open. Opportunity will come to you that you won’t necessarily recognize as opportunity unless you are fully engaged. Don’t think that your career will be a straight line. It will take twists and turns. But always be true to yourself. Always treat your adversaries with respect. Always work as hard as you possibly can and know that your preparation on this case is also preparation for the case after that and the case after that. Your reputation is the sum total of everything you’ve ever done. Make sure that when you look back, you’re proud of what you see. In addition to the previous paragraph, I offer some tips for younger lawyers just starting out: Don’t hesitate to ask questions of your colleagues. Join a specialty bar that offers CLEs in your area of practice. Do some community service outside the law to keep a sense of balance. Make time for your family and friends. The Honorable Angel Lopez Multnomah County Circuit Court
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Self-Care for Women Lawyers of ColorJune 2019HTMLThe National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being  (“Task Force”) in its report1 “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change,” took note that an important aspect of well-being among lawyers is diversity and inclusion. In recognizing that organizational belongingness (defined as presence of acceptance, inclusion, respect, and support by others) is associated with well-being, it recommended that all stakeholders prioritize diversity and inclusion, as well as create meaningful mentoring and sponsorship programs. Unfortunately, the lack of diversity and inclusion in our legal profession remains a concern. Specifically, for women lawyers of color, this lack of diversity and inclusivity adds a layer of complexity and stress that makes well-being difficult to achieve. Many women lawyers of color encounter ongoing bias, discrimination, and harassment that arise from ethnic, racial, and gender differences. For example, previous reports2 by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession such as the “Visible Invisibility Women of Color in Law Firms Executive Summary,” showed women lawyers of color as reporting high rates of being subjected to demeaning comments or harassment, and being excluded from networking opportunities, mentoring, or desirable work assignments. Additionally, the study indicated that women of color felt the need to overcome stereotypes about their abilities at work and their level of commitment. Many women of color shared “downplaying” or “homogenizing” their gender or ethnic identities at the office, maintaining long work hours, working harder than other colleagues, and experiencing loneliness, isolation, or invisibility. The study also showed that the stress of trying to fit in and experiences of invisibility led to a significant portion of women lawyers of color reconsidering their careers and leaving law firms. More recently, according to the 2018 ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)  “You Can’t Change What You Can’t See Executive Summary” report3 on interrupting racial and general bias in the legal profession, women lawyers of color were more likely to report they were held to higher standards than their colleagues. They were also more likely to be mistaken for non-lawyers (i.e., administrators, court personnel, or janitorial staff). As compared with other surveyed groups, they reported the highest levels of bias with respect to equal opportunities to access high-quality assignments, networking opportunities, receive mentoring, and fair compensation. As women, they experienced higher rates of harassment at work compared to men. The Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey 2018 Report4 further reflected the general trend of attrition rates for women associates of color in law firms as increasing while the percentage of those in partnerships as remaining low. From a mental health perspective, the inequalities and injustices within the legal profession, as acknowledged in these reports, create an environment that is both challenging and disheartening for women lawyers of color; one that especially runs counter to well-being. It is worth noting that at the heart of well-being is care for others, care by others, and care for oneself. Self-care is a practice that could mean the difference between thriving and languishing in this context. When we as women lawyers of color engage in self-care, we intentionally hold space for ourselves to promote our vitality, receive support from others, and preserve our sense of self. This has particularly relevancy for women of color; many of whom, culturally, and socially, feel the need to care for others and often find themselves holding the needs of their families and communities above their own. The legal profession, as a helping profession, can deepen this felt responsibility of tending to others. Constantly and regularly caring for others without taking the self into account can easily erode one’s capacity to meet one’s own physical and psychological needs. For women lawyers of color, it can intensify the negative impact of challenging environments. Self-care can serve as a catalyst for all women lawyers of color to make the change they see fit both in their personal and professional lives. Through self-care, we can express and reaffirm our values and our worth. We state that we matter and we are invaluable. It can also lay the foundation for how our allies, including stakeholders in the profession, could best treat and support us. Self-care can increase our resilience, gives us strength, and allow us to achieve a state of well-being. It can also provide a buffer against, and potentially counteract the effects of incivility, intolerance, and invisibility; in turn, allowing us to be empowered in the process. Wondering about how self-care can empower you as a woman lawyer of color? Consider the four self-care practices below: Connect with a socially supportive community. Research informs us that being part of a community where there is a sense of accountability, and where people are encouraged to be there for each other, promotes resilience. This may mean being in contact with caring people who not only value the richness of your ethnic, racial, and gender differences, but with whom you celebrate your culture. It might mean being involved in groups both inside and outside of the profession, or engaging in meaningful activities that allow you to help others and foster your growth. It could mean finding a mentor or sponsor, or becoming one in your workplace. Take a break, recharge, and rest. Stamina and endurance requires having mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual fortitude. Allow yourself time to refresh, recover, and reconnect with activities that bring you joy at home, with your family, and your community. Remember to create a healthy routine that involves a regular meal, bedtime, and exercise plan. Create and maintain strong boundaries. The demands of the profession may pressure you to take on more clients, projects, or tasks, and increase your involvement in organizations or engage in volunteer work. Recognize that time and energy are finite. Once used or depleted, there is no more to give. Prioritize those aspects of your life that are most important to you such as your family, community, spirituality, or traditions. Recognize for yourself when is enough. Give yourself permission to say no, and to ask others at work or at home for what you need. Harness your assets, abilities, or resources. Your unique background and diverse talents, qualities, attitudes, or aptitudes can allow you to shine and help you overcome obstacles to personal and professional growth. Allow yourself the space to discover or rediscover these parts of yourself and use them to your advantage. Highlight for yourself how you have excelled in using your assets, abilities, or resources, and generously share your successes with others. Our thanks to OAAP Attorney Counselor Karen A. Neri, JD, MA-MCFC Candidate, for her contributions to this article. (Endnotes) The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change Report: Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms Executive Summary: You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession Executive Summary Report: Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey 2018 Report:
Perspectives: Life in Early RecoveryJune 2019HTMLI recently had the privilege to interview several Oregon lawyers in the first few years of their recovery from alcohol and/or substance use. Below are some of their answers to my questions about their unfolding recovery journey. What were one or two of the primary factors that encouraged you to get into recovery? I was scared of what my life had become and that I could no longer control my drinking or myself when I was drunk. I finally had to admit to myself I was drinking way more than my colleagues. I felt increasingly dishonest with my family and myself about my drinking. A supportive friend shared with me positive stories about his friends in recovery. Although not in recovery himself, his ability to talk about recovery without judgment was very helpful. I was fearful that my drinking would have professional consequences if I did not address it. I hoped that stopping drinking would improve aspects of my life that were progressively being impacted: my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual life; stress, anxiety, and deteriorating relationships were also factors. I felt that my consumption of alcohol and substances I was using to quell my anxiety was beginning to totally rule my days. I hurt someone dear to me, my life was a mess, my health was a mess, and drinking was consuming my life. What have been some challenges you have experienced in maintaining your recovery? I found that I was reluctant to disclose that I had stopped drinking. It was challenging learning to navigate the many, many professional events that are centered around drinking – how to participate but not drink. Lawyer networking events are still difficult – so much focus seems to be on alcohol. I get anxious when I’m talking to people because I don’t have something in my hands. Uncertainty about the future; imagining a life of abstinence seemed unfathomable; there was some loneliness due to my having to put some healthy distance between myself and the people I frequently drank and used with. Finding new friends and new activities to keep busy. Doing the work to stay sober long-term is challenging but rewarding. I had to learn how to enjoy leisure activities without drinking. I am learning to be more accepting of my emotions and being patient that everything isn’t drastically better overnight. I could no longer pour booze over a bad day at work. And I could no longer reward myself after a long day at the office. What kinds of things, activities, and/or practices do you do to maintain your recovery? I go to three or four recovery meetings a week, and I regularly meet with my sponsor every month. I make sure I have a “buddy” with me at social and networking events – someone who knows why I am not drinking. I don’t need them not to drink, but it’s helpful to have the accountability. The most important thing I do is to stay connected with a recovery community that supports my decision to be sober. Developing and being mindful of healthy habits. I regularly see a therapist, I’ve reconnected with my brother (who has 30+ years of sobriety), I attend 12-step meetings and Refuge Recovery meetings, and I meditate. I work out, stay busy, meditate, pray, work with others, be of service, go to meetings, and stay connected. Has your life in recovery affected your relationships with others (e.g., family, friends, peers, colleagues, etc.)? If so, can you give me a couple of examples? I am so much more present in my friendships, with my spouse, and in all relationships. I remember conversations I’ve had with people. Before recovery, it was foolish for anyone to trust me. Recovery has allowed me to start to rebuild that trust with others who are important in my life. I used to be a source of disappointment and pain for the people I cared about. My relationships today are much healthier and mutually rewarding. My relationships with my family (spouse, kids, parents, siblings) have never been better. My shame and guilt have gradually melted away as time passes. I am more honest. Being present more often at work has strengthened those relationships, and today I am also more present and involved in my kids’ lives. My marriage is stronger because I am not covering up my drinking and lying about how much I’m drinking. Has your recovery affected your professional life and/or law practice?  If so, how? I used to avoid professional events with clients present because I did not want to risk saying something inappropriate because of my drinking. Now I don’t have that concern. I am not hung over constantly. I am now able to get to the office earlier and be much more productive. (It also helps that I am no longer taking off early to go drink.) The first few months/year of not drinking was very hard for me at work because I had previously used alcohol to deaden the bad feelings I had about my job. My recovery has allowed me to make necessary changes in my work life that I had been unable to face as a drinker. Recovery allows me to deal in a healthy way with the stress and anxiety that often accompany law practice. I am better now at doing work at work and doing the rest of life when I am not at work. What have you noticed most about how life is different for you in early recovery? I have so many amazing people in my life who are rooting for me to stay sober. It was amazing the network of people who came out to rally around me once I admitted I had a problem. I no longer have to pour alcohol over something to enjoy it. It’s amazing how much more energy you have for the rest of your life. The cloud of shame I constantly had while I was drinking and using has lifted. I am not as anxious or depressed. I am generally more optimistic about things. After about a year, not drinking felt “normal.” I was no longer triggered by attending events, dinner parties, etc. Health – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – has done a 180, and it feels great! Are there any tips you would give to a lawyer considering getting into recovery? Meet and talk to some lawyers who are in recovery and hear what we have to say about how much better life is now. Talk to trusted friends and the attorney counselors at the OAAP. They can connect you to a great recovery community. They are good people ready to help and are closer than you think! Getting into a recovery program will give you tools to use to help both with your drinking and your life. Reach out and talk to like-minded folks. Most people would be (happily) shocked to know the many resources available to those seeking to get into recovery. If you think you might need recovery, then you probably do. Call the OAAP! Our very special thanks to the lawyers who have shared a personal part of their lives in the hope that their perspectives will be of help and encouragement to others. Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor
Procrastination and the Allure of TomorrowJune 2019HTMLProcrastination has few advocates but many followers. It has been the subject of philosophical wisdom, comedic humor, academic study, psychological research, and therapeutic advice for centuries. It is part of the human condition, though it affects some considerably more than others. The legal profession, with its deadlines, obligations, and responsibilities, can be quicksand for those most vulnerable to putting off today that which can be delayed until tomorrow. The inevitable questions about procrastination have always been much the same: 1) what exactly is it, 2) why do we do it, and, perhaps most importantly, 3) how do we avoid or overcome it? The What Question To understand procrastination, it is helpful to understand what it is not. Procrastination in the legal profession is not: Strategic delay: Deliberately delaying a decision or action because the issue appears likely to resolve itself and thus make further action or decision-making unnecessary (e.g., holding off preparing discovery, a brief, or jury instructions in reasonable anticipation the case will resolve). Intentional delay: Deliberately delaying a decision or action because the consequences are uncertain and/or potentially problematic without first obtaining additional information (e.g., delay in accepting a settlement offer or taking on a new client until more information is made available). Necessary delay: Deliberately delaying a decision or action because work load and/or time constraints necessarily require attending first to other matters that are more urgent (e.g., delay caused by an upcoming court appearance or significant client meeting). Accidental delay: Delay caused by miscalculating the amount of time needed to finish a project (e.g., belatedly realizing a legal issue to be briefed is more complex than first thought) or genuinely forgetting to act on an intended goal (e.g., not remembering to timely file discovery requests or send a settlement demand letter). This type of delay may be professionally problematic for a lawyer, but it is not procrastination. Procrastination in the legal profession (i.e., of the kind that chronically interferes with one’s professional responsibilities) occurs when a lawyer: Recognizes the need to achieve a particular goal (e.g., getting a brief or discovery filed on time), Has the time and opportunity to achieve the goal (e.g., 60 days to file a brief), Knows that delay will harm the prospect of achieving the goal, and Nevertheless, intentionally delays taking the action necessary to successfully achieve the goal (e.g., the lawyer does not complete a brief or discovery requests or waits until the last minute to undertake the project). In short, procrastination is intentionally postponing necessary action, fully knowing that delay will probably impede one’s ability to accomplish a necessary task or, at least, impair the ability to produce a quality work product. It is acting against one’s own best interests and likely the best interests of the lawyer’s clients. It tends to affect both one’s personal and professional life. While there are no known empirical studies of procrastination within the legal profession, statistics about the general population suggest: Almost everyone (95%) reports procrastinating sometimes, and Nearly 50% of Americans self-identify as chronic procrastinators. The Why Question The further away in time a task needs to be completed, the more inclined people are to delay attending to it, particularly when it is unpleasant or stress-producing. To some extent, this is human nature. When the behavior repeatedly occurs and risks significant adverse personal and professional consequences, it amounts to chronic procrastination. In the legal profession, an example of serious procrastination is seen when lawyers unreasonably delay for months or years the filing of a lawsuit. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty, or any number of other emotional responses may cause the lawyer to defer filing until the imminent expiration of the statute of limitations compels a last-minute scramble to get the matter filed. Procrastination is not a time-management problem. Keeping meticulous to-do lists and time schedules are typically not the solution. Most researchers today consider that mood, emotions, and emotional regulation issues are causally at the heart of chronic procrastination. People generally learn from their mistakes and make changes so as not to repeat them (e.g., filing discovery late can have consequences). The chronic procrastinator, however, constantly repeats the very behavior that experience has taught will likely be harmful and self-defeating. Moreover, studies have found that procrastinators often carry with them anxiety, shame, and guilt about their decision to delay. Why then do they continue to procrastinate? When faced with the decision to undertake an unpleasant task today, the chronic procrastinator seeks to avoid the negative emotions associated with it and instead opts to delay action until tomorrow. The fear, uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety, embarrassment, or other emotion associated with the task is put off to a later time, with the hope that the emotional angst it produces will be more easily coped with in the future. Delaying action thus functions as a form of emotional self-regulation, despite the procrastinator’s conscious or unconscious knowledge that in doing so the task being delayed will itself likely now be prejudiced. The How Question Behavioral scientists and psychologists have for years sought to identify techniques helpful to those struggling with chronic procrastination. Many of their research-based recommendations, often simple in application, have proved valuable in helping many to successfully mitigate the challenges of procrastination. Their recommendations include: Introspection: Seek to honestly identify the reason(s) for the procrastination; if change is to be made, some candid self-understanding is a necessary starting point. Awareness: Recognize that, at its core, serious procrastination is often about emotions – feeling good in the short term by delaying decisions or actions that may be unpleasant. Social interaction: Many lawyers and others challenged by chronic procrastination are isolated in their struggle. They often feel embarrassed, anxious, and/or depressed by their delaying behavior. Talking openly with a spouse/partner or a trusted friend or colleague about their challenges is very therapeutic and a valuable first step in making needed changes. Small steps: When faced with a disagreeable or daunting task, studies have demonstrated that breaking the project up into smaller pieces and completing them piecemeal is often a very effective practice toward ultimate task completion (e.g., opening a blank Word document is the first step in drafting a brief). Success in the small steps psychologically encourages confidence and forward momentum. Social support: Making a verbal commitment to another person about steps (even small steps) intended to be taken on a project reinforces that commitment and the likelihood of success. Setting aside time: Commit to yourself (and someone else, if possible) to do a defined portion of a delayed task at a defined time; set aside an hour or two (repeating, if necessary) to work solely on that item, and only that item. Some caveats: Mornings tend to be best because people’s energy levels generally are greatest at that time; Energy levels are strongly influenced by how rested and well-nourished one is; when energy levels are low, one’s physiological ability to stay on task and motivated is also low; Make distractions less likely: take no calls, turn off your cell phone, close your door, clear your desk, and stay off your computer (except as needed for the task at hand). Monitoring: Research clearly shows that monitoring progress helps assure success. It creates a visible record of effort and reinforces the positive behavior. Setting deadlines: Procrastinators who set meaningful deadlines for themselves are much more likely to achieve task completion. This is especially true if the deadline date and time are written. Rewards: The procrastinator who is rewarded for task completion (again, even for small steps) is more likely to be successful; regularly rewarding oneself for progress made psychologically reinforces the positive behavior. Be realistic: (1) Many procrastinators tell themselves they work best and are most effective when they are under last-minute time pressure. Studies show that the work-product of the procrastinator is typically inferior to that of the non-procrastinator. (2) Plan a realistic amount of time for the task. Studies show that people are reasonably accurate in estimating how long it will take others to perform a task, but notoriously optimistic in making such estimates for themselves. Counseling and therapy: As noted above, chronic procrastination is often about emotions. Counselors can help address the underlying issues and help you change your behavior. The Oregon Attorney Assistance Program offers counseling assistance and referral resources for all Oregon lawyers, judges, and law students. If you are interested in a procrastination workshop, contact the OAAP. Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor
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Asking for HelpMarch 2019HTMLThe truth is that most of us are not good at asking for help. For one thing, the myth continues that asking for help makes a person appear weak. In fact, asking for help empowers the person because it allows them to face chronic problems head-on, instead of being stuck in a quagmire of secret misery. Another misconception that discourages seeking help is the misbelief that highly successful people are “strong” and don’t need help. The opposite is true. Any great leader knows that he or she is not skilled at everything and that, to be successful, those with superior skills must be relied on too. Asking for help is still not easy, especially regarding personal problems. Lawyers and judges can be particularly reluctant – or even resistant – to seeking help. We often are not comfortable surrendering to anything. This is not surprising. In law school, we developed intellectual stamina and analytical skills that gave us academic confidence. While practicing law, we gained confidence in problem solving. The end result: We are not accustomed to asking others for help or admitting any weakness or difficulties. We are trained to solve other people’s problems, not handle problems of our own. Our admirable attributes of independence and tenacity serve us well right up until we suffer a personal problem that can’t be outsmarted. Alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other physiologically-based chemical brain diseases simply can’t be defeated with analytical skills and confidence. You can’t “lawyer” your way out of chemical brain diseases. As such, the self-reliance that previously served a lawyer or judge well can stand in the way of a path to help. In the end, and not just for lawyers and judges but for all people, fear is at the core of why most people are reticent to reach out for help: fear of being judged; fear that adversaries will obtain and use information against you; and fear of losing control of the situation. While an internal struggle between seeking help and maintaining secrecy rages within individuals who need help, time is of the essence more than they imagine. Sadly, it is common that an individual will resist seeking help until the problem becomes a full-blown crisis. By procrastinating and not seeking help early on, more-serious consequences accumulate and the road to recovery becomes more arduous. In the worst scenarios, the inability to seek help costs the person his or her life. All that said, help is readily available and there definitely is hope. Some of the happiest and most productive people in the legal profession found their way to a lawyer assistance program and received the help they needed. They are happy and healthy again and have escaped the darkness and isolation they previously suffered. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and that holds true for dispelling old stigmas that impede one’s ability to seek help for alcoholism, addiction, depression, and other diseases. If you are concerned about your, or someone else’s, substance use, alcohol use, depression, or other mental health condition, call the OAAP. Whether you need immediate help or general information, call us at 503.226.1057 and ask to speak with an attorney counselor. Our services our free and confidential. We are here for you. This article was originally published by the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Reprinted with permission.  
Managing Stress With MindfulnessMarch 2019HTMLManaging stress is a constant struggle for many of us. The relentless pressure to satisfy work and personal responsibilities can be immense and taxing. Long hours, complex work, obligations to satisfy professional mandates of conduct, volunteer commitments, and taking care of our family and ourselves all take time and a toll on us. Although we may not recognize it, we each have a relationship with stress that cannot simply be eliminated or avoided. Psychiatrist Dr. Murray Bowen believed that life includes an inherent “chronic anxiety,” which he describes as the way we habitually or automatically respond to a threat; in other words, stress. We learn to work with stress, yet, at times, we may do so in a way that is no longer useful to us. Many of us know this from experience. We have seen that while stress can be a catalyst for action, constant or long-term stress eventually leads to burnout. Science sheds a lot of light on the impact of stress and our reaction to it. From a neuroscience perspective, chronic stress is detrimental to the functioning of our brain. For example, too much cortisol (commonly known as the stress hormone) can diminish the size of our hippocampus – the part of our brain responsible for memory and emotion. In another branch of science known as epigenetics (the study of heritable changes in gene expression), there are studies that show the way we experience or respond to stress may be inherited. Understanding how stress affects us and creating a lifestyle that allows for balance between work and life demands are all helpful steps to managing stress. There are many different ways we can make our work and personal life fit together (“work-life fit”) and avoid chronic stress, whether it is restructuring our schedule to be home more often, reducing our workload and commitments, or finding more space for rest and relaxation. The art of mindfulness is one approach that often gets overlooked, yet it can have a profound impact in allowing us to better manage our relationship with stress. Mindfulness has substantially gained popularity in use and reference in the West since the late 1970s. It has been a long-standing practice in the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading researcher and teacher of mindfulness, it is the state of purposefully paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. “Purposefully” paying attention to the present moment means being intentional about directing one’s attention to the here and now. The term “nonjudgmental” refers to the act of not placing a value on the occurrence of a thought, emotion, or bodily sensation. One form of mindfulness that is often recognized is meditation. In meditation, a person uses a certain technique to train the mind to focus its attention and affect the functioning of the body. Regularly practicing mindfulness can be extremely helpful for regulating our emotions and restructuring our cognitive function in a positive way. It does so by allowing us to increase our ability to hold awareness without judgment while retaining a positive state of mind. In their research on effective therapies to recover from substance use disorders, Drs. Marianne Marcus and Aleksandra Zgierska describe mindfulness as encouraging awareness and acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they arise, and recognizing their impermanence. As a result, individuals change the way they relate to, or view, their experience in the present moment, and they can choose to act with purpose rather than respond reactively. Mindfulness has also been shown in clinical work to be helpful for reducing or managing stress, anxiety, or symptoms of depression; boosting the immune system; and improving one’s ability to make decisions or to solve problems. In a study led by Dr. John Minda and his colleagues, lawyers who participated in an eight-week mindfulness program reported lower levels of depression, anxiety, stress, and negative mood, as well as increased levels of positive mood, resilience, and workplace effectiveness. Mindfulness is at the core of Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which was originally developed to help patients with chronic physical and mental health challenges.  MBSR is now a well-known, empirically supported technique that involves body and sensory awareness meditation, breathing awareness, thought awareness, and yoga movements. Studies of MBSR document its success in reducing stress and depression. Mindfulness is also used to support recovery. In a study of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Marcus and Zgierska found that those who participated experienced a greater “decrease in craving, and greater increases in acceptance and acting with awareness” than those who followed the customary treatment. The culmination of the above research and many other studies support the conclusion that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, and other approaches that incorporate mindfulness can be effective in assisting individuals to manage or reduce their stress, increase their nonjudgmental awareness, foster a positive effect, and achieve a healthier state of being. If you have not yet considered a mindfulness practice, why not start now? The skills of mindfulness can be learned or taught regardless of one’s religious or cultural background. You don’t need prior experience, and you can incorporate the practice into your daily life. Below are five practical tips to help you get started: Tune into your breath. Pay attention to the air filling your lungs as you breathe in and the air leaving your body as you breathe out. Sense the rise and fall of your belly as you allow your breath to flow through you. While walking, turn your attention toward the steps you are taking. Notice each step. Feel the weight of your shoes. Experience the sensation of bringing one foot down, then the other. The next time you have a meal, take a mindful bite. Pay attention to each movement you make as you gather your food with your hand or a utensil, and draw it closer to your mouth for a bite. Notice the shape of the food. Smell the deliciousness. Can you imagine it as if you had already tasted it? While driving, turn off your radio, music, podcast, or other sound source. Bring awareness to the moment by paying attention to the quietness in the air. What do you notice? Take a moment to pause and spend some time simply being instead of doing. Let go and let things be. Allow things to unfold on their own, at their own time, and in their own way. See if you can find a bit of stillness in this space of non-doing. Each time you use the mindfulness methods, you develop and strengthen your ability to use it as a stress management tool. For additional information and resources, see page 2 of this issue and contact the OAAP at 503.226.1057. Karen A. Neri, JD OAAP Attorney Counselor   Additional Resources The Anxious Lawyer, Cho, J., & Gifford, K. (2016), ABA Publishing. Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important, Kabat-Zinn, J. (2018), Hachette Books Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Kabat-Zinn, J. (2009), Hachette Books. Mindfulness for Law Students: Using the Power of Mindful Awareness to Achieve Balance and Success in Law School, Rogers, S. (2009), Mindful Living Press. The Mindful Parenting Collection, Siegel, D. & McCarty, M. (2012), Penguin Random House. Mindfulness and Legal Practice: A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation and Stress Reduction in Lawyers, Minda, J. P., Cho, J., Nielsen, E., & Zhang, M. (2017).
March 2019 - Full IssueMarch 2019PDF
Perspectives on RetirementMarch 2019HTMLWe recently interviewed several retired attorneys who were willing to share their experiences and perspectives on life before and after retirement. We asked the attorneys why they started thinking about retirement, and here is what they had to say: I knew I wanted to retire when I was still healthy and could enjoy life. I wanted to travel and enjoy life with my spouse and friends. The decision to retire did not happen overnight, but was not a difficult one for me to make. I used my logical side to make the decision. I loved my job and my colleagues but wanted to do other things too. I had less patience with obstructive practices by opposing attorneys – it seemed like a sign. I began to feel a sense of sameness and routine. It gave me the vague sense that I could do the work without much effort and without utilizing my best skills. My interest was waning and, at times, I felt the challenge was gone. It was taking too long to bring cases to trial. At the state level, attorneys would not agree to expedite trials. At the federal level, the costs and time requirements to meet the various judicial, local, and FRCP requirements were increasingly daunting and expensive for clients. Technological changes started making impacts in a number of practice areas, and smaller, routine cases became more automated and rote. A time existed when I did not think about retiring, but then one day I realized I had to retire sometime. My contemporaries and I are getting older. Some of them were starting to retire. Others became ill. Still others passed away. Father Time was beginning to gain a bit. Mother Nature was taking a slow toll. In terms of preparing for retirement, here are some insights and suggestions the attorneys offered: Invest in your health – it is an important foundation for a good life. Take care of yourself, exercise, and hope you have good genes so that you can enjoy good health in retirement! I began preparations for an eventual retirement about four years beforehand. It was a slow process, but the early preparation helped me with the transition. The preparation reduced my anxiety and helped me avoid unanticipated consequences. Consulting with a financial planner gave me confidence in my financial future and helped me develop a long-term financial plan. Reviewing your finances really helps you know what to expect and, for me, that relieved a lot of anxiety. If you are in a firm and you are going to retire, talk with your partners so that everyone has time to plan and prepare both financially and emotionally. I discussed my retirement plans with my partners early in the process, so they would not be surprised. I did not want them to sign office leases or other obligations without knowing my timeline. Even though it can be difficult to approach these subjects, it preserves your relationships and saves a lot of upheaval in the firm. It also spares a lot of hard feelings, extra work, and expense. If it works, plan your retirement for the end of a lease! Have complete physicals taken and any procedures finished before retiring – a “total body tune up.” Complete your medical testing and procedures before you retire. Plan the first six months of your retirement, or create a to-do list for that time frame. I found it helpful to have a glide path for when I left work behind. Pick a date and then just do it. Once public, your retirement takes on unexpected momentum. Make a plan before you retire, so that you have something to retire to. The attorneys spoke about approaches and resources that were helpful leading up to retirement: Talk with current retirees. Develop your interests and friendships. Speak with your support network for both ideas and accountability. Meet with a financial advisor. I learned that I could afford to retire. So, I did! Attend or listen to retirement-related speeches, presentations, YouTube videos, TED talks, etc. Do the same with subject areas that are of interest to you. Consider if the time is right. When I first considered retiring, the thought made me worried and anxious. It didn’t feel like the right timing. I am glad I listened to those warning signs. When I retired several years later, I looked forward to my next chapter of life. The right timing makes a big difference! Read about retirement and consult with the OAAP attorney counselors. Learn about and meet with consultants about Medicare and Social Security – well before age 65. Plan something fun for the first winter months of your retirement. It’s a good alternative to sitting around in the gloom of Oregon winter wondering what to do and worrying that retiring was a mistake! Retirement changed the attorneys’ lives, sometimes in unexpected ways: Although I travel less than I thought I would, I am spending more time with my kids and grandkids than I expected. I no longer live on a tight schedule because of work. I find that I need to check my calendar to remember appointments and social visits, because each day is different. On many days, I have the luxury of no time demands and unscheduled time. That makes it is easy to forget about commitments that do have specific times! I was not expecting to find so much joy in being free to do what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. I felt great knowing that I no longer had to cram everything into the weekend! I missed having a regular routine, so I set up several things to do each week on a regular schedule. This is still a work in progress and is not yet a satisfactory replacement for a regular work schedule. I do have more free time than I thought I would. This is my current challenge – being able to accept, embrace, and live with unstructured time. It feels like a big identity shift to identify myself as a “retired” or “semi-retired” lawyer. It is a challenge I did not anticipate. When I first retired, I committed to too many things. My biggest challenge was time management and learning the balance of activities and leisure time that would work best for me. I am getting better at it, now that I am in my second year of retirement, but I am still working on achieving the right level of structure and open time. The attorneys spoke about how they currently spend their time in retirement: I work out several times a week at a gym. A couple of times each week, I try to catch up with existing friends or explore new friendships. I also read more, travel, plan future trips, take classes, catch up on home projects, and do my best to get out of the house at least two times a day. I volunteer at several nonprofit agencies and serve as a director on several boards. I’ve also taken on leadership roles at my synagogue. I balance my time between my family, projects, volunteer work, exercise, friends, and spending time alone. I visit with my kids and grandkids and enjoy time skiing, working out, and going to the beach. My Medicare plan comes with a free gym membership! Finally, the attorneys shared a few personal feelings about their retirement: The thing that I miss the most about work is collegiality. Fortunately, I keep in touch with many former colleagues. I enjoy our informal lunches and “reunions.” I really enjoy the flexibility of my new life. I feel very fortunate to have had a good career, good health, and the ability to retire while I was healthy enough to live it fully. I feel very blessed to have made it here. I can read what I want. Unscheduled days are easier to handle with some experience and practice. I no longer wear a tie. I wear more colorful socks. Our thanks to the lawyers who shared their perspectives with us and to OAAP Assistant Director/Attorney Counselor Shari Gregory, OAAP Attorney Counselor Douglas Querin, and PLF Practice Management Advisor Lee Wachocki for their assistance with this article.   Additional Resources: The Next Stage: Planning NOW for the Retirement that YOU Want – Available on the PLF website, > CLE > Past. This CLE examines the financial, business, practical, and emotional aspects of retiring from the practice of law. Lawyers at Midlife: A Personal & Financial Retirement Planner for Lawyers, Michael P. Long, John Clyde, Pat Funk – Available through the PLF order desk, 503.639.6911. Preparing for a Status Change, inPractice, February 25, 2019.  
December 2018 - Full IssueDecember 2018PDF
Leveraging Your Leadership StyleDecember 2018HTMLWhere can we begin to gain insights into our own leadership style? Assessments can be a tool to gain greater self-awareness. While there are many well-known and effective self-assessments, one that is very user-friendly is the Everything DiSC Workplace because it measures two dimensions of personality that have a tremendous impact on how we interact in the workplace. It’s also easy to determine the DiSC styles of others once you understand the basic framework, unlike other assessments that are not so easy to apply in practice. Ask yourself these questions to help you to determine your own DiSC style: 1. Are you more fast-paced and outspoken OR cautious and reflective? 2. Are you generally more warm and accepting of others and their ideas OR questioning and skeptical of them? If you selected fast-paced and outspoken AND questioning and skeptical, you probably lead with a “D” or “Dominance” style and you focus on RESULTS. If you selected fast-paced and outspoken AND warm and accepting, you probably lead with an “i” or “Influence” style and you tend to prioritize ENTHUSIASM. If you selected cautious and reflective AND warm and accepting, you probably lead with an “S” or “Steadiness” style and you like to provide SUPPORT. If you selected cautious and reflective AND questioning and skeptical, you probably lead with a “C” or “Conscientiousness” style and you put an emphasis on ACCURACY. See the chart above for more detail about the four main DiSC styles. Our DiSC style informs how we communicate with others, the level of detail we need, the pace at which we like to work, and if we focus on facts or feelings. Even though we are all a blend of the four styles, we tend to lean into some styles more heavily than others. Think about your primary style as your home base, but you are “free to move about the cabin,” as they say on airplanes, and shift into other styles as well. How DiSC Style Impacts Leadership What does DiSC tell us about our leadership style? If you look at the DiSC diagram below, you’ll see eight words around the circumference. These are the eight priorities where leaders focus their energy. One priority or style is not better or preferable to another. Individuals with all DiSC styles can be effective leaders. Depending on the leadership activity you are engaged in, there is a time and place for all of these leadership styles. For example, when a team embarks on a project or a strategic planning process, that is the time for the leader to help the team brainstorm and stay open to possibility. It’s important to focus on being “pioneering” and “energizing.” However, when the project shifts into the execution phase and all the details become important, having an “energizing” approach isn’t always warranted – or appreciated. Instead, being “deliberate” and “resolute,” to make sure that the details aren’t overlooked, is important. A common DiSC style amongst lawyers is the “C” style that puts an emphasis on being “deliberate.” This style values accuracy and objectivity and likes focusing on details. Sometimes, people with a C style will get bogged down in analysis paralysis or not concede a minor point because they don’t want to appear wrong. A leader with this style will benefit from knowing when to focus on details versus when to prioritize the big picture. It’s also easy for this style to slip into micromanagement of others, so more frequent check-ins with employees and clearly defined deliverables and deadlines will help this leader to be successful. Making a point to show empathy and concern for others will also help to build the foundational trust needed for effective working relationships. As you can see, each style of leadership has inherent strengths and some blind spots or areas for growth. There is no one leadership style that is inherently skilled in all areas. We begin the journey towards self-awareness when we understand what our priorities are, what leadership best practices come naturally in relation to those priorities, and what areas we can strengthen or shore up. For further reading on leadership styles, please consult the book The Eight Dimensions of Leadership by Sugerman, Scullard, and Wilhelm. Kirsten Meneghello, JD, PCC Kirsten Meneghello, JD, PCC, is a leadership coach and consultant and the founder of Illumination Coaching LLC. Kirsten coaches leaders and executives, facilitates team communication, and is a Certified Trainer for Everything DiSC and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. She can be contacted at if you would like to learn about personalized assessments.
The Career of a Lawyer: Creating Success at Each StageDecember 2018HTMLFinding one’s niche in the legal profession can be challenging. It is common for lawyers to start their job search by seeking jobs they can fit themselves into rather than seeking a job that best fits them. Whether it is experience or foresight that guides us as lawyers in our job search, one element that is crucial to achieving career change or satisfaction is self-assessment. This year on November 2, 2018, the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program held its all-day career CLE entitled “The Career of a Lawyer: Creating Success at Each Stage.” The focus was on using self-assessment to create success and satisfaction in one’s legal career from the early stages through retirement. Assistant Director and Attorney Counselor Shari R. Gregory, LCSW, JD, and Attorney Counselor Bryan Welch, JD, CADC I, framed the day by making a “case for self-assessment.” They explained the need for considering our strengths as lawyers and becoming  more organized in the manner we assess our values, psychological needs, communication style, skills, and job environment. The morning segment also featured leadership coach and consultant Kirsten Meneghello, JD, PCC, who spoke on “Leveraging Your Leadership Strengths.” Kirsten shared one self-assessment tool that can be used by lawyers to attain greater self-awareness, the Everything DiSC Workplace (see article, “Leveraging Your Leadership Style” on page 6). Although we do not always view ourselves as leaders, the nature of our legal work often calls us to step into leadership roles in which our expertise, influence, and capacity to make decisions are relied on by those we serve. Kirsten informed us that we can leverage the characteristics we prioritize based on our DiSC style depending on the situation we face at work and achieve better outcomes. Using our strengths in this way allows us to excel as leaders in our workplace. Toward the end of the morning segment, the OAAP presented a diverse panel of attorneys: Nathan Morales, JD; Myah Kehoe, JD; and Jacqueline Alarcon, JD. These inspiring attorneys each shared their journey into their current careers. They discussed some of their challenges and successes during their five to ten years in the practice of law. The afternoon segment featured career coach Susanne Aronowitz, JD, ACC, who guided us through “Successfully Navigating Lawyer Career Crossroads at Midlife.” She explained that our path to achievement using time and effort is not always a linear process but can follow a chain of “s curves.” We find “hacks” to accelerate our learning, and we develop new skills in advance of us “plateauing  on [our] existing ones.” The key is not to allow fear to constrain us so we can jump from one curve to the next. To help overcome our fear when confronted by crossroads in our careers, Susanne relayed five steps: (1) identify the focus of our curiosity; (2) identify areas of dissonance; (3) understand the context for our resonance/dissonance; (4) apply context to our situation; and (5) design an action plan. She also introduced us to the concept of “SCARF” (status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness) as another way of addressing our stress response system. All five aspects of “SCARF” activate the primary reward system in our brain, and when any of these areas are threatened, we experience a threat to our life. When we are unable to make a decision or change, it is  important to consider the aspect of “SCARF” involved, its impact, our “SCARF” goals, and how we may blend our interests with the areas of “SCARF” that are threatened so we can move to our next “s curve.” Shari and Bryan subsequently discussed how we may progress toward retirement using William Bridges’ model of transition. This model is composed of three phases: first an ending; followed by an “in-between” period of exploration and often confusion or challenges for most; and a new beginning. Bryan also shared the utility of cultivating resilience to maintain well-being during this period. The afternoon segment concluded with Attorney Counselor Douglas Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I, moderating a panel of seasoned attorneys who successfully retired from the practice of law: Scott Jonsson, JD; Nancie Potter, JD, LMFT; and Douglas Hagen, JD. These courageous attorneys shared their own journey toward retirement and how they continue to live with purpose and meaning after retirement. From our guest speakers and panel members, we learned that it is possible to move beyond fear and uncertainty to change and satisfaction. For those of you still searching for a niche, what steps might you take toward your own self-assessment? A huge thank you to all our speakers and the lawyers who participated at our career CLE. Our event would not have been possible without you. Karen A. Neri, JD OAAP Attorney Counselor
Helping a Colleague in RecoveryDecember 2018HTML“I’ve known Jim for some years and know he’s in early recovery. I’d like to be supportive, but I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Maybe I should just say nothing and pretend like I don’t even know that he is in recovery. Anyway, I’m no expert in drug and alcohol recovery and maybe I should just leave these conversations to professionals or close friends and family. But, like me, Jim’s a lawyer, a professional colleague. I’d like to be supportive and maybe I could be of some help.” We are often perplexed when we want to support a colleague in recovery from problematic substance use because we don’t know how. There is no simple formula for what to say or how to say it. Every situation is different and, for every recommendation, there are usually exceptions. Let’s start, however, with some general principles that can be helpful to keep in mind. People in recovery, especially early recovery, differ in their degree of comfort in talking about it. Some may be very open about their recovery, while others may be more reticent. Certainly, if the person in recovery openly comments about it, they would probably appreciate an offer of support. If the person seems reluctant to talk about or disclose his or her recovery, use discretion. Offering support or assistance in this case, while still perhaps helpful, should be more measured and carefully timed to avoid embarrassment or triggering feelings of shame or guilt. People in early recovery are generally much more in need of the support of well-intended others than those in healthy long-term recovery. The latter group has generally managed to develop and take advantage of a supportive community. The former group probably has not. An exception is when the person in long-term recovery has relapsed and is now struggling to regain what is lost. This person is, practically speaking, not unlike the early recovery person; offers of support can be equally valuable to this person. You do not have to be a medical professional, professional therapist, or drug and alcohol expert to offer support to those in early recovery – any more than you need to be an expert in chronic medical conditions to be a supportive resource for someone struggling with those conditions. Three fundamental tools for effectively helping a colleague in recovery include (1) nonjudgmental communication, (2) genuine caring, and (3) healthy boundaries. NONJUDGMENTAL COMMUNICATION. The primary purpose of offers of support is not to advise, persuade, or convince, but simply to convey concern and availability in a clear, simple, and sincere manner. Some examples: Heather, I really respect what you are doing in your recovery efforts. If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know. Bob, while I don’t know much about recovery issues and certainly am no expert, please know that I am available to you if you ever want to have coffee and just talk. Jerry, I’ve had my own challenges with substances in the past. If you ever want to just talk sometime about your recovery, please feel free to let me know. I know it can be difficult at times. Listening is an essential part of good communication. Often, we can be most helpful by just listening nonjudgmentally. The colleague in recovery has likely received an abundance of advice, both solicited and otherwise. If the person wants advice, it may be best to wait for him/her to ask for it. Effective listening requires truly focused attention and demonstrated interest in what is being said, the absence of distraction, acknowledgement of the message, awareness of the emotions that may be behind what is being said, reflective feedback (e.g., What I’m hearing you say is . . . ), and appropriate questions (e.g., That sounds really challenging. How are you doing with that?). In this context, effective listening says: I care about how you are doing and am available for you. GENUINE CARING. Offering to be of assistance can depend in part on the parties’ prior relationship. If there has been no previous relationship or personal contact, it may be not only awkward but counterproductive to suddenly express interest in a colleague’s well-being. However, there are two important exceptions. If the colleague in early recovery has few, if any, significant social connections (e.g., no immediate or extended family, living alone, few friends, and/or absence from 12-step or community support meetings), his/her success in recovery may be problematic. In this instance, it may be especially helpful to reach out to this colleague in a supportive way (e.g., Nancy, I’m aware we don’t know each other well, but I understand you are in early recovery. I know recovery can be challenging. I just wanted you to know that if I can ever be of any help or you would like to have coffee and talk sometime, please know that I’m available.). The second exception is when the person offering help is in longer-term recovery. This fact often transcends the lack of prior relationship. It represents a unique connection that can be especially helpful to someone in early recovery (e.g., Bob, I know we don’t know each other well, but I heard you are in early recovery. I’m in recovery, too, and have been for some years. If you’d like to have coffee sometime, I’d enjoy it very much. Or, maybe we could go to a meeting together. I know some really great meetings.). Regardless of prior relationship, sincerely wanting to help is essential to offering meaningful assistance. Often it means no more than being a supportive friend or someone to turn to so the common challenges of recovery can be lessened by simply having someone available to talk with. HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. There are many things one can do to support a colleague in early recovery, including: Be available to just talk, listen, and be present (often this is the most valuable support that can be offered); Be supportive and encouraging; Be appropriately curious and interested in what your colleague is experiencing in recovery; Have coffee with your colleague; Help with transportation (e.g., doctor appointment, support meeting); Include your colleague in healthy social events; Help your colleague reintegrate into work and social environments; Introduce the person to other colleagues; Introduce the person to others known to be in recovery; Be willing to share one’s own recovery story; Be sensitive to the fact that your colleague may have shame, guilt, and/or embarrassment surrounding recovery issues; Learn about addiction and recovery issues; and Remind your colleague about the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP). OAAP attorney counselors provide confidential, voluntary, and free resources to all Oregon attorneys, judges, and law students. The OAAP makes available four recovery meetings every week to our legal community, both those new to recovery and those who have been in long-term recovery. Visit or call 503-226-1057. A major challenge when helping a colleague in early recovery is seeking to be a helpful resource without being an unhealthy enabler. As a general rule, it is wiser to help your colleague resolve financial issues than to lend money; help find housing rather than offer your own house; help find legal resources rather than represent him/her; help think through employment and/or relationship difficulties rather than personally intervene. Again, there is no fixed formula. Each situation is different, and there can certainly be exceptions. The personal and professional consequences of problematic substance use can be extensive; the person needing help may face major life challenges, especially in early recovery. For those in the legal community wanting to be supportive, the natural instinct as problem solvers and advocates can often be to put on our lawyer hats and jump into the fray. What your colleague in early recovery needs most is not unhealthy enabling, but rather to learn for oneself to deal with life’s difficulties without resorting to unhealthy substance use. This is exactly why having personal connection with others is so essential – to let your colleague know there are others who truly care and, within healthy boundaries, are present and available to help navigate life’s challenges without drugs or alcohol. Keep in mind these additional healthy boundary considerations. Use discretion in sharing with others the conversations and information learned from a colleague in recovery. The colleague’s willingness to accept help generally presumes confidentiality in the relationship. The best way to find out how to help a colleague is to ask; get clarity about exactly what kind of help is being requested. Be clear about what assistance you are willing and prepared to provide. If the help sought is beyond your ability or, on reflection, would not be appropriate under the circumstances, respectfully decline. When you offer assistance to a colleague, it is important to follow through. For example, if you promise to call the person on a certain day, keep the promise. Dependability and reliability are essential to maintaining the helpful relationship. Remember that the ultimate responsibility for maintaining healthy recovery belongs to the recovering colleague. It is not the responsibility of others – spouses, friends, or colleagues. This is a fundamental tenet of recovery. Well-meaning others can be immensely valuable and make the process easier, but success or failure rests with the recovering person. Healthy social connections are a vital part of successful recovery and help to lessen the stigma that is often attached to chronic substance use. And, importantly, social connections facilitate the transition from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one. Well-intentioned offers to assist a colleague let that person know that others care and are available. With assistance based on nonjudgmental communication, genuine caring, and healthy boundaries, the colleague in early recovery is best positioned to achieve success in that person’s recovery efforts. Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor
September 2018 - Full IssueSeptember 2018PDF
Five Ways to Make Your Days BetterSeptember 2018HTMLSometimes your day is cruising happily along when a bump in the road – or a major pothole – comes along to derail you from the easy life. Then there are days when everything seems to go wrong all day long. Life isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to make your days better. Here are five: Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Many thought leaders, from Brene Brown to the Dalai Lama, tout the benefits of living with an  attitude of gratitude. This is different from positive thinking in the face of real adversity. Rather, it is seeing life for the reality that it is and being grateful for what’s good about it even when some parts are not good. My friend Diane Costigan, who is Director of Coaching at Winston & Strawn LLP in New York City, taught me this phrase when I was working with her as a coach: “What I like about it is…” This is a great way to live with an attitude of gratitude. It can also make you laugh in the face of trouble. For example, I lost my cellphone (disaster!), but what I like about it is I can get an early upgrade to a better phone. Accept reality. As one of my favorite authors, Byron Katie, would say, when you argue with reality you always lose. I love this thought. It makes life much simpler. Katie says to let go of the “shoulds” in your life. Yes, opposing counsel should be more civil. Yes, the judge should let you make your argument without interruption. Your difficult client should appreciate how hard you are working. But sometimes the reality is that those things don’t happen, even if they should. The best way to handle these difficulties is to accept that they exist and then work with them. You can either work to remedy them or change something in your life or practice so that you don’t continue to find yourself in a reality that you don’t like. Delegate. It is difficult to succeed without a team. If you don’t have teammates – colleagues, friends, assistants, family – take the time to create a team that can help you handle all your responsibilities. It can be hard to let go of the control to effectively delegate. Let’s be honest, though: If you micro-manage the person to whom you delegate, you aren’t saving yourself any time and you are frustrating him or her. So instead, take the time to find a competent and cooperative teammate, be very clear in your directions, and let him or her take the responsibility. There may be growing pains, both in your ability to give effective directions and your teammate’s ability to deliver as expected, but it will be worth it. Organize. One of the best ways to keep all your various responsibilities in order and successfully handled is to be organized. Organize your office so that things don’t get lost in the shuffle. Organize your day so that you use your time as efficiently as possible. Organize your life so that you have resources readily available to you. When you are organized, you don’t waste time and energy trying to find whatever you need to be successful. Meditate, then plan. When I am overwhelmed with work and life, I want to jump in as quickly as possible and tackle things. Resist that temptation. Take a breath, and take the time to meditate and then plan. Would you build a house without first drafting a plan? Of course not. Take the same approach to your day, your matter, and your life. You actually save time when you make a good and thoughtful plan. When you take five minutes to meditate before you plan, your planning will go more smoothly and efficiently. Meditation will clear your mind of the noise and allow you to breathe, slow down, and think. Have a great day! Jamie Spannhake Jamie Spannhake is a lawyer, mediator, and certified health coach. She is a partner at Berlandi Nussbaum & Reitzas LLP, serving clients in New York and Connecticut, practicing in the areas of commercial litigation, estate planning, residential and commercial real estate, and business transactions. She writes and speaks on issues of interest to lawyers, including time and stress management, health and wellness, work-life balance, and effective legal writing. Follow her on Twitter @IdealYear. This article first appeared in Attorney at Work at Reprinted with permission.
Steps to Building a Sustainable Career: Ready to Thrive?September 2018HTMLFor the past several years, our profession has seen a rise in attrition and a decline in satisfaction. Too many talented attorneys have walked away from the profession, believing that it’s an all-or-nothing gig, and truthfully, there are few resources available to discourage that. Yet many attorneys do succeed in building thriving, sustainable careers. What sets them apart? How do you join those ranks if you’re teetering on the edge of law career despair? Whether you’re a recently admitted attorney or an experienced professional, it behooves you to assess your career and your life at regular intervals. Circumstances, priorities, and desires all change. To be the best lawyers that we can be, as well as to feel motivated and purposeful, means integrating our full complement of human intelligence into our thinking, then acting accordingly. Many attorneys move from soul-deadening jobs to fulfilling careers by integrating their full complement of human assets to find purpose and motivation, and to thrive. How do we actually do this? Many avenues do exist; a few are listed below. Before you find yourself paralyzed by inertia, trapped by golden handcuffs, or dropping out altogether, consider the concepts below. Contemplate them. Notice which resonate with you. Then choose one or more upon which to act. Regardless of the stage you’re in, a few fundamentals remain important: Find Your Why: Research confirms that when our core values and our work are not aligned, our well-being plummets. Manage Your Energy: Even when we love our work, if demands exceed our energy, we are left feeling exhausted, with little left over for ourselves or others. Find Your People: Humans tribe. We’re designed to connect. Law practice is often an isolating experience, even in the largest firms. Do You, Today: Much of the stress we experience is self-generated by anticipating the future or ruminating about the past. Find Your Why Think back to your pre-law days. Something drew you to the practice of law and led to the place you sit now. What motivated you to take the LSAT, fill out and submit applications, and pay perhaps hundreds of dollars in fees to be considered for a coveted slot? Was there a spark of inspiration attached to that effort, or did it simply seem like a good idea at the time? Does that pre-law motivation still exist for you? Motivations change. What has moved to the top of your priority list? To thrive in any career over a period of decades, our work has to matter to us in some way. Where do you, or can you, find meaning in your work? Practicing law is complex and demanding, so many of us expect to feel some measure of daily discomfort and accept it. This is a far cry from the capacity to thrive that we can achieve. Attorneys who practice in areas that answer their WHY shift from a job to a career, and sometimes even a calling. You can begin by reflecting on the underlying purpose for the day-to-day work that you do and the needs of the client for whom you do your work. Consider completing a values identification. This is very useful for crafting a life that is fulfilling to you. A primary value for one of my law students was adventure. Knowing that means it’s important for her to work in a field that she finds stimulating. Are you doing work that reflects something you care about? Where do you find joy or meaning in your work? Notice your resistance. We all have it. Examining the areas of resistance yields our greatest insights. Many attorneys pivot at early, middle, and later junctures in their careers and land in practices they love. Filter out the naysayers who tell you it can’t be done. Whether you’re in your second, seventh, or seventeenth year of practice, it’s never “too late” to live your life. Manage Your Energy Practicing law requires stamina. Even when we love our work, if demands exceed our energy, we are left feeling exhausted, with little left over for ourselves or others. Powering through a long day of billable hours or back-to-back clients can leave us feeling exhausted. Technology places an added drag on our attention and our energy. Our human brains were not designed for the 24/7 demands we’re placing on them. For too many attorneys, the substantive work is challenging and enjoyable, yet they are so drained, that their life enjoyment is reduced to a concept. This, too, is where understanding a little human physiology goes a long way in battling burnout. When we’re doing mental work, our brain is working hard to connect thoughts, process information, produce neurotransmitters, and manage the many other systems operating in our bodies. To improve stamina and sustain energy throughout your day: Sip water. As little as 1% dehydration diminishes cognitive function and impairs mood. Staying hydrated provides the electrical energy our brains need to think and process information. Focus on one task at a time. Single-tasking is more efficient, improves outcomes, and leaves you feeling more alert throughout the day. The effort involved in multitasking – switching between two or more cognitive tasks – increases the output of stress hormones and drains the brain of resources needed for cognitive function. As a result, we tire rapidly and diminish the quality (and enjoyment) of our work. Rather than answering emails and phone calls while working on a document, give your focused attention to each task individually; you’ll save time, improve outcomes, and feel more alert at the end of the day. Take mental breaks. Two to five minutes of brain rest at regular intervals are imperative for mental processing and productive work. Powering through is not a productivity tool. Turn away from your computer (and phone!), and gaze out the window for a few minutes of nondirected thought. Breathe. Take a short walk, perhaps to the water cooler. We can’t skip these human physiological processes any more than we can skip fueling our cars when the tank is empty. A brief break every 45 to 90 minutes will save you time, boost your energy, and pay off in productivity. Skip the soda. Though you may experience a quick, temporary “feel-good” fix, the sugar content actually interferes with mental focus. Find Your People Humans tribe. We’re designed to connect. On par with meaningful work is mutual respect in our workplace. Yet law practice is often an isolating experience, even in the largest firms. It’s important to work with attorneys who care about you as a person and take an interest in your career and your well-being, for more than the obvious reasons. A substantial body of research suggests that the people with whom we work are strong indicators of who we become. Are your colleagues collaborative or competitive, encouraging or discouraging, kind or sarcastic, healthy or unhealthy, optimistic or pessimistic? In his insightful TED talk, Nicholas Christakis, MD, a Yale sociologist and physician, explains how the people with whom we work day in and day out influence our lives, our health, and our happiness. I recently met with a young lawyer and former student of mine who loves her substantive practice but regularly finds herself at odds with her supervising attorney’s approach and style. She recognizes that while she is committed to continuing in her field, practicing meaningfully over the long term means working with more like-minded practitioners. Many attorneys find connection and community in the firms and organizations in which they work. When we enjoy the people and the environment in which we spend most of our waking hours, we’re able to thrive. Do You, Today Although humans are no longer in danger of being eaten by a predator for lunch, our brains are still primed to protect us from danger. Much of the stress that we experience is self-generated. Large caseloads, irate clients, and traffic, to name just a few potential stressors, are interpreted by our brains as threats that trigger a stress response, even though we’re in no actual danger. A truly wonderful human gift is our ability to observe ourselves. Once we identify the source of the stress response, we’re able to step back, put it into perspective, and respond to potentially stressful situations in a more detached, composed fashion. Recent research in health psychology also shows that when we view stress as a motivator or as neutral, it doesn’t have the negative health impacts that accompany concern about feeling stressed. Below are some useful strategies. “Have I done all that I can in the present moment?” A “no” answer to that question guides me toward appropriate action, while a “yes” reassures me that in the present moment, the situation is the best that it can be and no further action is needed right now. Depending upon the circumstances, I’ll often make an appointment to revisit the issue at a later time. For many, the question, “Does this serve me?” proves useful. We’ve all agreed to serve on additional committees or take on matters that pick up another’s slack. This question enables us to recognize situations that require a “no” response now, thus avoiding situations that result in resentment or unwanted outcomes later, and also building confidence. Develop your confidence. Confidence turns thought into action, and action moves us forward. Notice your thinking and your self-talk. You may inadvertently be holding yourself back with doubt and unwarranted self-talk that are unsupported by evidence. While your brain may think it’s keeping you safe, recognizing the skills you possess that propel you will move you and your career forward. Attend to your inner life. Whether it’s to paint, read, run, meditate, cook, or stargaze, incorporate one activity into your routine that brings you joy for no other reason than its existence. Finally, “never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Dolly Parton   Judith Gordon Judith Gordon is a speaker and coach and a lecturer at UCLA School of Law, committed to empowering attorneys so that they thrive in law and in life. She can be reached at or 310-968-7270.
Practicing Law with Depression & AnxietySeptember 2018HTMLI am told that I am an up-and-coming young attorney with the potential to do great things, and by all outward accounts I suppose that must be true. My firm has gone out of its way to offer me opportunities for growth beyond its norms. I have won awards. I have spoken at conferences and CLEs. I have been elected to boards and run committees. People seek me out for these positions because they are confident in my abilities, my commitment, and my sense of responsibility. I am dependable, competent, and pragmatic. I apparently give the impression of someone with goals and drive who knows where she is going and how to get there. It is an impression I have a hard time accepting because on the inside it is a very different story. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life and expect I will continue to struggle with them into the foreseeable future. I have been medicated for 13 years and have no intention of quitting any time soon. I fight a neverending war against a part of myself that I cannot remove. Every day I win battles, but the war continues. I fight to get out of bed in the morning, to smile when I see other people. I fight against the voice that tells me constantly that everything I am doing and saying is wrong and everyone knows it. I question every decision I make and my ability to make them. I feel like a failure and a fraud every single day. When something goes wrong, it is proof. When something goes well, it is luck or a fluke. Every day is a challenge, to keep going, to appear normal, to not give in. It is painful and exhausting. Even on my best days, the depression lurks in the back of my mind, waiting for a moment of weakness. I am constantly frustrated by my inability to be rid of it, no matter how hard I work and no matter how amazing I make my life. Practicing law with depression is incredibly challenging. We work in a system that expects us to be perfect, to always know the answer, to be able to fix everything. It is impossible to live up to the image, and for those of us who are already inclined toward mental health issues, that impossibility can feel crushing. In many ways, I am one of the lucky ones. I have come to recognize my issues and get the help I need. I have family and friends who understand and support me, and I work in an environment that gives me the flexibility to attend therapy and confidential OAAP support group meetings with no questions asked. I am even able to speak openly with some of my supervisors and colleagues about my mental health and how I manage it. I work hard to maintain balance in my life because I know I can’t survive without it. I can’t join every organization, be on every board, go to every social, and work the long hours this profession often demands. None of this makes me a bad lawyer. It does not make me weak, fragile, or unreliable. On the contrary, it has made me stronger. I wake up every day and fight for the life I have because the alternative is not an option. I know that I am capable of fighting, I know that I can survive, and I know that I can triumph. I know that good days can come, even after the darkest times. That knowledge gives me the resilience to face struggles in the rest of my life, as well as in my practice. When I learned how to accept and take care of myself, I also learned how to take care of others. I learned compassion and patience, and I learned perspective. I learned to look beyond what people project and see who they are beneath the surface. I can usually see where a person is coming from, and most of the time I can meet him or her there without judgment. I treat my clients like human beings, and as a human being I do my best to guide them through an often impersonal legal system. As lawyers, we are ashamed and afraid to admit when we suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. We are afraid to admit our weaknesses because of how our clients might judge them or how our colleagues might exploit them. I recognize my weaknesses, and I also know how to work with them. I know my limitations, and I know what I need to do to succeed. I am not only the part of me that wants to run away from the world. I am also the part of me that gets up every day and fights, that can accept the possibility of failure and understand that I can come back stronger. Without my depression, I would not have any of those strengths. I am not ashamed of that part of me – I am proud of it. I am a good lawyer, not in spite of my depression, but because of it.
June 2018 - Full IssueJune 2018PDF
Women's Wellness RetreatJune 2018HTMLThe Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP) and Oregon Women Lawyers (OWLS) held their 11th Annual Women’s Wellness Retreat for Lawyers at the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach on April 27 and 28. A wide-sweeping view of the ocean and the majestic Haystack Rock served as an inspiring and spectacular backdrop. This year’s theme was “Powering Up Our Resilience Through Mindfulness.” Fifty-six women lawyers came together to learn, relax, and create new or sustain existing connections. With the help of our speakers, this two-day event was filled with thought-provoking presentations, reflections, and relaxation. We kicked off Friday afternoon with a satisfying lunch, welcome remarks, and introductions. The atmosphere was casual, light, and cheerful. Speaker Virginia Terhaar, PsyD, encouraged us to turn off our phones for 24 hours and to observe any reactions to the urge to reach for our device. Our keynote speaker, Laura Mahr, JD, a mindfulness coach, defined mindfulness, resilience, and power. She distinguished between discernment and criticism in explaining mindfulness as the act of paying attention to the present without judgment. Nonjudgment can be understood as being less critical of one’s present experience while engaging in discernment. Laura also conceptualized resilience as making use of mindfulness tools to bring us out of our reactive mode to a responsive mode, where we can make better decisions and enter a state of flow. After Laura’s presentation, we were given free time to enjoy our cozy rooms and make use of the pool, hot tub, and sauna before returning for dinner. During dinner, attendees discussed their favorite ways of de-stressing, including any meditation practices, and the meaning of resilience. Most of us stayed behind for the beach bonfire. Friday night ended with our yoga teacher, Michelle Ryan, JD, guiding us with her soothing voice into complete relaxation through Yoga Nidra (sleep with awareness). The next day, Michelle led us in a morning yoga session to help us feel grounded. We gathered for breakfast and readied ourselves for a presentation on Trauma-Informed Lawyering by Brigitte Rodriguez, MSW, and Ali Schneider, JD. Brigitte helped us understand that trauma is an individualized experience and influenced by culture. She spoke of the main elements of trauma-informed care (realization of trauma’s prevalence, its recognition, and responsiveness toward it) and the principles of a trauma-informed approach, such as safety, trustworthiness, and peer support. Ali then described the practical steps lawyers can take, such as creating a comfortable space, making one’s legal services more accessible to clients with barriers, or spending more time introducing clients to the process during a consultation. Virginia Terhaar later led us in a discussion on how to create a supportive legal community. She explained that the quality of our connections gives us our secured sense of self. She had us consider how we may use the ideas from the retreat to form or improve our relationships with other lawyers. During lunch, attendees had the option of participating in an arts-and-crafts activity with creativity coach Megan Saint-Marie by creating a vision candle. Participants were given a candle to decorate as they envisioned their past, present, and/or future. We wrapped up the retreat with Laura Mahr leading us through exercises and discussions that reflect how we can be responsive rather than reactive. She had us list our personal strengths and taught us mindfulness tools so we can build resilience, transform our emotions, and take actions that improve our well-being. Special thanks to all of our speakers and the wonderful women lawyers who participated in our event. Your presence was truly valuable, significant, and impactful. Cheers to OAAP and OWLS for another successful retreat!  
Moving in Place: Four Steps to Creating More Satisfaction in Your WorkJune 2018HTMLLife is good. You are one of those seemingly rare attorneys who is content at work. You feel a sense of mastery (or at least competence) over the subject matter you handle, you have a good relationship with your peers, and the compensation meets your needs. Your employment provides the stability that you crave. You have no desire to change the status quo. Yet when you notice that your colleagues in other offices are jockeying for some bigger-and-better opportunity, you start to wonder whether you should aspire to climb the corporate ladder. But what if you don’t want to? Or what if you’d like to grow but are at an organization that does not offer a ladder to climb? Is it OK for an attorney to simply stay put? In short, yes. But to avoid burnout and boredom and to continue adding value to your internal and external clients, it is helpful to find ways to develop and grow, even when staying in place. The good news is that the strategies you can use to avoid stagnation are easy to add to your plate. In fact, by engaging with issues that excite you, or by seeking opportunities for connection and leadership, you can infuse your professional life with energy. In the event your work circumstances change, this approach will also put you in a better position to successfully navigate a job transition. The key is to find activities that are intrinsically interesting to you. Here is a menu of ideas to consider; select the ones that resonate most with you. Continue to build and showcase your expertise Whether you are new to the profession or a seasoned veteran, be a curious consumer of the legal issues in your practice and trends in your clients’ industries. Set aside a period of time each day or week to review the legal press and bar association newsletters. Subscribe to topical legal blogs, and actually read the posts. (The American Bar Association has an excellent directory of legal blogs for you to explore.) Listen to podcasts during your commute, or view webinars on your lunch hour. Figure out what your favorite mode of delivery is, and seek out material that suits you. Consider sharing your knowledge by writing for the very resources you are consuming; many of them thrive on volunteer submissions. Or consider writing for non-legal publications where you can offer your expertise to a lay audience. If you are more of a talker than a writer, consider speaking on topics of mutual interest at bar association meetings or community groups. These are effective ways of connecting with others who share your passions, displaying your expertise, and raising your professional profile. They can also help you provide a more interesting answer to the tired “what are you up to” question you will inevitably receive at social and networking functions. Deepen your skill set To represent your clients effectively, it is essential that you continue to deepen your skill set. Look at what attorneys who are senior to you in your office are doing to identify gaps in your skills, and design an action plan to build in these areas. Take the initiative at work to seek new responsibilities that expand your repertoire. Consider pro bono opportunities to gain more experience in direct client representation. Seek out CLE courses that focus on skill building and training. Expand your circle of contacts Practicing law can be very isolating. While this is particularly true for solo practitioners, attorneys in larger organizations can also struggle to find trusted colleagues. By expanding your professional community, you are likely to find mentors, new peers who share your interests, potential client referrals, and opportunities for leadership. Start by tending the network you’ve already established. Reconnect with old colleagues, supervisors, law school professors, and mentors with a holiday card, an email message, or an invitation to get together for lunch or coffee. Join professional, industry, and community associations that relate to your professional or personal interests, and seek ways to get involved by serving on a committee or task force. If you are seeking something that requires less bandwidth, join virtual groups on LinkedIn and other platforms that provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and build a presence within your professional community. Seek leadership opportunities within and outside of your organization One of the best ways to solidify your own skills and knowledge is to train and support others. Volunteer to mentor junior colleagues or people new to your organization. Serve as a mentor through bar associations or community groups. Investing in someone else’s success tends to add a residual effect to your own. Consider mentoring “up” by noticing the tasks that vex senior colleagues. Are they struggling with technology? Procrastinating on writing that law journal article or preparing that bar association presentation? Avoiding the preparation for a client pitch meeting? Volunteer to help with the projects that they find burdensome. These are easy ways to showcase your value to your employer and solidify relationships with key stakeholders. By adding more value to your current organization, you enhance your worth to them while building more variety into how you spend your day. Getting Started Enhancing your professional life with new activities does not have to be hard or time consuming. Identify two or three items from this article that you want to incorporate into your routine. Be specific: what steps do you want to take and when will you take them? Even better, find a colleague who is similarly motivated, and serve as accountability partners for each other. Share your goals and outcomes with each other. Articulate for each other how these activities will add value to your professional portfolio. In addition to celebrating your successes, you may even find some new sources of inspiration.   Susanne Aronowitz, JD, ACC The author is a career coach and can be contacted at She will be one of the featured speakers at the fall career CLE. This article was previously published at the ABA Legal Career Center in February 2017.
Interview with OSB Bar Admissions ManagerJune 2018HTMLThe OAAP helps a lot of law students who then go on to apply for Oregon State Bar admission. Some of them have had difficult times earlier in their lives, have made poor choices, or have substance use or mental health challenges. OAAP Attorney Counselor Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I, interviewed Troy Wood, OSB Admissions Manager, about the Character and Fitness interviews and the conditional admissions process. DSQ: Will an Oregon State Bar (OSB) exam applicant with a problematic alcohol/drug use history automatically be denied Bar admission or have to be “conditionally admitted”? TW: Absolutely not. Generally, applicants with a history of problematic substance use who do not have a corresponding criminal or negative employment history and who candidly disclose their use and appropriate efforts they have taken to address it, are granted full Bar admission. If the applicant’s recovery efforts are consistent with recognized recovery practices and the applicant has credible recovery time, then the admission process should be uncomplicated. DSQ: About what percentage of law student OSB exam applicants are interviewed as part of their admission process? What percentage of these interviews are because of the applicant’s drug/alcohol use history? TW: Looking at our averages since 2014: Character and Fitness (C&F) interviews are required for about 2.2% of all exam applicants. Approximately 25% of this 2.2% group were interviewed primarily for reasons related to alcohol/drug use issues. Approximately 80% of this interviewed group were unconditionally admitted to practice in Oregon; about 20% were “conditionally admitted.” Thus, of the entire Bar exam applicant population during the last four years, only about 0.1% were conditionally admitted because of problematic substance use issues. DSQ: What are some of the primary factors considered when making admission decisions about a Bar applicant’s alcohol/drug use history? TW: Some of the main questions are: Is the applicant in denial about his/her substance use challenges, or does the applicant acknowledge having, or having had, problems with alcohol and/or drugs? Does the applicant take responsibility for past alcohol/drug-related actions or conduct and acknowledge the relationship between the problematic substance use and those behaviors? What recovery-related actions has the applicant taken to address the problematic substance use? For example, does the applicant consistently engage in recognized recovery practices? Does the applicant practice healthy self-care? Does the applicant participate in recovery support groups? Does the applicant have a demonstrated record of recovery? Does the applicant utilize health and/or recovery professionals when necessary? DSQ: What advice would you give to law students struggling with alcohol/drug use challenges who are applying to the OSB? TW: My best advice to the law student would be: Take an honest look at your condition and take responsibility for your actions. Do not fool yourself into denial, hide your condition, assume it will automatically get better after the stress of law school, or delay addressing it until some more convenient time in the future. Knowledgeable medical and recovery professionals are very clear that serious and addictive alcohol and drug use are progressive diseases; they are conditions that typically do not get better, only worse. The good news, however, is that they are conditions that, when properly addressed, can be successfully dealt with and treated so they do not lead to severe personal and professional consequences. Applicants with significant substance use problems who have taken the necessary actions to address them are generally admitted without condition upon successfully passing the Bar examination. Those who are in need of ongoing support for serious substance use are regularly offered “conditional admission,” which permits the active practice of law with ongoing monitoring of their recovery eff orts for a designated period of time.  Those successfully completing their conditional admission requirements receive full admission status. The OSB’s conditional admission program has proven to be very successful in both protecting the public and getting quality lawyers off to a good start in their careers. Once the Supreme Court approves a conditional admission, the OSB does not publish or disclose a lawyer’s conditional admission status to anyone. Of equal importance to the program, conditionally admitted lawyers are not required to disclose their conditional status to others. Resources What resources are available to law students to get additional information about the OSB’s Character & Fitness (C&F) process? Applicants are welcome to contact Bar Admissions with procedural C&F questions, but recognize that they cannot give advice or counseling. You can contact Troy Wood, Admissions Manager, at 503-620-0222, ext. 310, or at It is best for an applicant to call the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP) and discuss their issues. It might also be helpful to consult with legal counsel. What role, if any, can the OAAP play in the Bar admission process for a student with  alcohol/drug use issues?  The OAAP is a confidential, voluntary, and free service whose resources are available to all OSB applicants. We strongly recommend that any law student with drug and alcohol issues or similar concerns contact the OAAP. The communication is confidential and will not be reported to the OSB, PLF, or others without the consent of the applicant. The OAAP Attorney Counselors are knowledgeable and experienced, with over 35 years of experience of helping Oregon Bar applicants get their lives in order so that they can be admitted to the practice of law. You can contact the OAAP Attorney Counselors at 503-226-1057 or at 800-321-6227.
Law Students, Substance Use, and the "Character and Fitness" ReviewJune 2018HTMLApplicants who have a history of substance misuse face additional challenges to admission to the Oregon Bar, including the possibility of having to go through a “character and fitness” review and the fear that it may impact their future as a lawyer. However, it is important to know that disclosing a history of problem substance use on the Bar exam application is not an automatic bar to admission in Oregon, especially if the applicant has sought help. (See the sidebar: Interview With OSB Bar Admissions Manager.) For example, Tom(1) is a lawyer who stopped drinking while in law school. “My life had become chaotic. While I hadn’t (yet) been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, I clearly had a problem. But I was lucky – I never had any legal consequences as a result of my drinking.” Tom got help from the OAAP and from other lawyers in recovery. “When I filled out my application, I felt it was important to be completely honest. I wrote that I had been sober for two years and that I was attending Alcoholics Anonymous. I let them know that I had a sponsor and had ‘worked the Steps.’ Apparently, based on my answer they were satisfied that I had dealt with the issue. They never contacted me; I didn’t have to provide any additional information, and I was sworn in that September.” Alan’s circumstances were different. Upon passing the February exam, the Board of Bar Examiners questioned Alan’s character and fitness because of circumstances surrounding his past use of alcohol, including a conviction for DUII two years prior to his application. “I had no idea what to expect,” says Alan, a criminal and family law attorney. “Soon after I passed the Bar, I was interviewed by a panel of three Board members, consisting of two lawyers and a public member of the Board. It was much more formal than I anticipated. They asked a lot of tough questions about my past and my relationship with alcohol. The process felt pretty intimidating.” Hugh, a criminal defense attorney who also went through the character and fitness investigation process, agrees. “If I could change anything about the process, I would make it more transparent, both in terms of expectations of the applicant and the decision-making criteria of the Board.” For instance, Hugh feels it would have been helpful to know in law school that the Board would likely require a period of complete abstinence for applicants who have a clear history of problem substance use. In his view, if he had known, it’s possible that he might have been motivated to seek help sooner. At the time Hugh applied to take the Bar exam, he had been struggling with a serious alcohol problem since college. As a result of his drinking, he had been suspended from school as an undergraduate, had spent nights in a detox facility, and had been convicted of DUII. Hugh recalls, “A few weeks after the exam results were posted, an interview was held in which three members of the Board [of Bar Examiners] questioned me for around 45 minutes about my alcoholism, specific bad conduct, and plans for the future. Shortly thereafter, I got a call explaining that the Board was going to deny my admission.” However, Hugh was told he could request that the Board defer its decision, and, if he could demonstrate a year of sobriety, their decision “would likely be different.” Hugh started the process of healing. Even though he relapsed twice in the first couple of months, he reported the relapses to the Board and they agreed to consider his case a year after his last relapse. Hugh remembers, “A bit more than a year later, I got a phone call explaining that my case would be on the Board’s agenda at its next meeting and that it would likely want to meet with me again.” Hugh sent a letter confirming his sobriety, and he was admitted without another interview. As a result of their respective character and fitness investigations, both Hugh and Alan were conditionally admitted to practice law. Fortunately, Oregon is one of 24 states that have such “conditional admission” programs.(2) These programs allow appropriate applicants with a history of problem substance use to be admitted subject to certain conditions during the first few years of their practice. The programs may require conditions such as monitoring or supervision, treatment, continued abstinence, attending community-based support groups such as SMART Recovery or AA, and drug testing. For Hugh, this meant being supervised by a monitor appointed by the State Lawyer Assistance Committee (SLAC),(3) remaining abstinent, attending recovery meetings, and submitting to random drug tests. Alan had similar requirements, but he was also required to enter and complete an outpatient alcohol treatment program. At times, these requirements can feel like a burden. “Being a rural practitioner, there are not many treatment facilities or AA meetings close by,” says Alan, so he had to drive to a neighboring county for treatment and meetings. However, “I know that I excel with accountability and appreciate the opportunity for personal growth.” For Hugh, the Bar’s character and fitness process was extremely helpful. “Looking back, the process was one of a confluence of factors that got me sober. I was referred to the OAAP and introduced to a community of lawyers in recovery, a profoundly important change in my life. These lawyers provided the ‘carrot’ – showing what a sober life in the law could be like – and the Board of Bar Examiners provided the ‘stick.’ Early in sobriety, I was not so steady, and the stick was important.” Conditional admission programs help dismantle the stigma of mental health and substance use disorders as “scarlet letters.” Especially for law students, they send a meaningful message that even in the worst circumstances, there is hope; seeking help will not block entry into their chosen profession.(4) For law students with concerns about problem substance use, the prospect of asking for help can seem daunting, especially with the Bar exam application on the horizon. According to a 2014 survey of law students, “potential threat to Bar admission” was the primary reason given for not seeking help for alcohol or drug issues.(5) “While I understand a student’s reluctance to seek treatment,” says Libby Davis, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Lewis & Clark Law School, “avoiding treatment out of fear of creating character and fitness issues will not, in the short or long run, benefit a student. Proactively seeking treatment shows the applicant’s commitment to self-care and to being as well prepared as possible to meet the demands of serving clients and the community. Of even greater importance, going through law school and into a professional career without addressing substance use issues adds extraordinary challenges to already challenging endeavors. I strongly encourage students to seek the help they need.” There is one other thing Hugh would like other applicants with addiction issues to know: “I would not have been able to navigate the Bar’s character and fitness process or find my way to sobriety without help. My life was very dark and very narrow, and I was frightened to seek assistance. Frankly, I only reached out to the OAAP initially to give the Board the impression that I was serious about getting sober. The result was immeasurably more valuable.” Bryan R. Welch, JD, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor The Oregon Attorney Assistance Program is a confidential counseling resource for lawyers, judges, and law students. If you are a law student who needs help with substance misuse or other mental health issues, or would like support while planning for or going through the character and fitness review process, call 503-226-1057 or 800-321-OAAP.   Endnotes (1) The experiences of the lawyers in this article are their own. They should not be considered legal advice or predictors of outcomes in any particular case. Their names have been changed to protect their confidentiality. (2) Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2016, National Board of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association. (3) The State Lawyer Assistance Committee is a committee of the Oregon State Bar with authority to investigate and monitor lawyers whose substance abuse or mental health issues may impair their ability to practice law. It is not connected to the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. (4) National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (2017), The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, pg. 28. (5) Organ, Jaffe, and Bender, Helping Law Students Get the Help They Need: An Analysis of Data Regarding Law Students’ Reluctance to Seek Help and Policy Recommendations for a Variety of Stakeholders, The Bar Examiner (December, 2015).
March 2018 - Full IssueMarch 2018PDF
National Task Force Report on Lawyer Well-BeingMarch 2018HTMLIn 2017, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being (Task Force), consisting of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and a broad coalition of other organizations, published the most comprehensive report (Report) to date on the wellbeing of American lawyers. The Report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, relied on numerous empirical studies, two of the most notable being the recent ABAHazelden Betty Ford Foundation survey of nearly 13,000 currently practicing U.S. lawyers and the 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, surveying over 3,300 law students from 15 law schools throughout the country. These studies revealed that many lawyers and law students struggle with anxiety, depression, and/or substance use issues. Well-Being in the Legal Profession The findings of these studies and the national media attention their publication generated, sparked the creation of the Task Force and its Report. The central question for the Task Force was how the profession can best address these health concerns in a collaborative, comprehensive, and sustainable way to meet the needs of all concerned. The Report made clear that, although a disturbing portion of our legal profession has substance use and behavioral health challenges, the majority of lawyers and law students do not. It noted, however, “. . . that does not mean that they’re thriving. Many lawyers experience a ‘profound ambivalence’ about their work, and different sectors of the profession vary in their levels of satisfaction and well-being.” Well-being is thus more than “the absence of illness; it includes a positive state of wellness.” To be a good lawyer, the Report noted, one has to be a healthy lawyer, and the research suggests that “the current state of lawyers’ health cannot support a profession dedicated to client service and dependent on the public trust.” The Task Force thus undertook to address not only mental health and problematic substance use concerns, but also the overarching issue of lawyer well-being within the profession. How can lawyers experience well-being and actually thrive in their personal and professional lives? The Task Force defined lawyer wellbeing as a continuous process whereby one seeks to thrive in six primary areas of one’s life: Emotional health – identifying and managing emotions in personal and professional environments; Occupational pursuits – cultivating personal satisfaction, growth, enrichment, and financial stability; Creative or intellectual endeavors – engaging in continuous learning and the pursuit of creative or intellectually challenging activities; Spirituality – experiencing a sense of meaningfulness and purpose in all aspects of life; Social connections – developing a sense of belonging and support with others important in one’s life; and Physical health – striving for regular physical activity, proper diet, nutrition, sufficient sleep, and recovery from the use of unhealthy substances. Stakeholders The Task Force’s Report makes over 40 recommendations, some general to all stakeholders within the legal community and some very specific to each individual stakeholder group. The Report is nothing less than a call to action. It seeks to encourage through collective action significant change in the culture of the legal profession. The stakeholder groups addressed include judges, regulators, legal employers, law schools, bar associations, professional liability carriers, and lawyer assistance programs. Task Force Recommendations To their credit, many of the stakeholders in Oregon are committed to lawyer well-being and have already begun implementing some of the Task Force’s recommendations. However, there is always room for additional improvement when it comes to one of the most important issues for this and future generations of our legal community. Some of the general recommendations to all stakeholder groups include: Take action to minimize the stigma that is often attached to mental health and substance use disorders; encourage those with such conditions to seek help. Foster collegiality and respectful engagement throughout the profession; reduce chronic incivility that can foment a toxic culture that is counter to well-being. Promote diversity and inclusivity initiatives that encourage both individual and institutional well-being. Create meaningful mentoring and sponsorship programs, which research shows can aid well-being and career progress, particularly for women and diverse professionals. Guide and support the transition of older lawyers to, among other things, capitalize on the wealth of experience they can offer and, at the same time, reduce risks sometimes faced by senior lawyers challenged by the demands of technically evolving professional environments. De-emphasize alcohol at social events, and provide a variety of alternative non-alcoholic beverages at such events. Utilize monitoring to support recovery from substance use disorders in environments where it can be supportive. Some of the recommendations to specific stakeholder groups include: Conduct judicial well-being surveys. Provide well-being programming for judges and staff. Encourage judicial participation in the activities of lawyer assistance programs, such as volunteering as speakers, particularly when the judge is in recovery him/herself. Educate and inform the judiciary regarding signs and symptoms associated with substance use and behavior health conditions so they are better able to identify when a lawyer may be in need of assistance. Adopt regulatory objectives that prioritize lawyer well-being, such as expanding continuing education requirements to include well-being topics; require law schools to create well-being education as a criterion for ABA accreditation; more closely focus on conduct and behavior rather than diagnosis and treatment as character and fitness bar admission criteria so as to avoid stigmatizing mental and behavioral health conditions and treatment; educate and accurately inform law students about bar admission criteria to reduce their fear that getting needed professional treatment will hinder their chances of bar admission. Adopt diversion programs and other alternatives to discipline for minor lawyer misconduct to encourage treatment for underlying substance use and mental health disorders. Add well-being-related questions to the multistate professional responsibility exam. In legal work environments, form active lawyer well-being committees; monitor for signs of work addiction and poor self-care in legal work; and actively combat social isolation and encourage interconnectivity. In law schools, create best practices for assisting law students experiencing psychological distress; provide training to law school faculty regarding student mental health and substance use disorders; and develop mental health and substance use disorder resources, including taking active steps to encourage help-seeking practices by students. Empower law students to help fellow students in need; facilitate a confidential recovery network for students; provide educational opportunities on wellbeing-related topics in law schools; and discourage alcohol-centered law-school-related events. Encourage local and state bar associations to sponsor quality CLE programming on well-being topics, and utilize the resources of state lawyer assistance programs when appropriate. Emphasize well-being in loss prevention programs, including being aware of the role of lawyer impairment in claims activity. Among lawyer assistance programs, encourage emphasis on confidentiality; high-quality well-being programming; and appropriate and stable funding for outreach, screening, counseling, professional staffing, and preventative education. The Task Force Report “makes a compelling case that the legal profession is at a crossroads” and the time for action is now. It is premised on the belief that, through collective action by all of us, we have the capacity to create a better future for our nation’s lawyers. Improving lawyer well-being is a win-win for everyone: it is good for clients, good for business, good for the profession – and it is the right thing to do! Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I OAAP Attorney Counselor
Welcome Karen!March 2018HTMLThe OAAP is pleased to announce that Karen A. Neri, JD, has joined the OAAP as an attorney counselor and group facilitator. Karen earned her law degree from the New College of California, School of Law, in 2006. She is in the process of obtaining her MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling at George Fox University, a degree that will prepare her for attaining dual licensure as a Professional Counselor (LPC) and Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Prior to joining the OAAP staff in 2018, Karen worked as an associate attorney in California, with a focus on family law, personal injury, and general civil litigation. She subsequently was a sole practitioner, until her move to Oregon. Her legal work exposed her to diverse clients seeking guidance on personal matters, including those relating to divorce, domestic violence, and mental health. Karen joins our three OAAP attorney counselors, Shari R. Gregory, LCSW, JD; Douglas S. Querin, JD, LPC, CADC I; Bryan R. Welch, JD, CADC I; and OAAP group facilitator Kyra M. Hazilla, JD, LCSW.
Bringing the Breath to WorkMarch 2018HTMLDavid Rosen, Oregon attorney, yoga teacher, and co-owner of SoulRoar Breathwork, talks breathwork, mindfulness, law, and the middle ground between them all. Q. Breathwork – What is it? Breathwork is a form of active breathing – distinctly different from meditation – where you are forcefully moving the breath through the body. In short, you lie on the ground, take deep belly breaths through the mouth for approximately 25 minutes, followed by a rest period and guided meditation. In doing that, you change the body chemistry, and when you change the body chemistry, the mind reacts differently. Q. What do people experience with breathwork? While everyone experiences breathwork differently, I think it helps give people great clarity and insight, the ability to see things from a different perspective. Breathwork also gives us an opportunity to get past the stories we tell ourselves. Most of us are our harshest critics. Most of us have stories we tell ourselves, whether it is that we aren’t good enough, or if we get “this thing,” everything will be better. I think breathwork gives us the opportunity to see the stories, to see ourselves, and to see what we want to change and how to do it. Q. Why do you think lawyers should be doing breathwork? The most appealing aspects of breathwork are its accessibility and efficacy. Unlike some modalities where you build up to an experience with practice over time, breathwork frequently has a prov immediate, felt experience the very first time someone tries it. This is a practice that is accessible to everyone, and the results occur in the first session. Lawyers will appreciate the efficiency of the practice – the ratio of low-time commitment to high-yield insight from the practice. Of course, this should be done only with a trained breathwork facilitator. I think lawyers will also appreciate that the work provides an opportunity to address life’s challenges while also addressing current problems of the day at work. In addition, breathwork can serve as the spark for a larger practice in mindfulness. Q. What is the relationship between breathwork and a mindfulness practice? For me, my mindfulness practice is grounded in yoga, meditation, and breathwork. In metaphoric terms, think of building a house of “becoming more present.” Yoga and meditation are the day-to-day work. The framing, the siding, the finishing – it is all yoga and meditation. The breath is the foundation. Breathwork is the blueprints. When we are unsure of how we want the house to look or how to solve a problem, we need to go back to the blueprints. For me, breathwork is the answer. Q. How have these practices informed your practice of law? Yoga, meditation, and breathwork provide me with a better perspective of what is important, keeping my ego in check and learning how to not take on others’ negative energy. It is learning to respond rather than react. By being present in the practice of law, I can serve my clients better, work with opposing counsel better, and manage the needs of my law practice. Q. We often hear today about the practice of law being stressful, anxiety-producing, etc. What has been your experience? That’s accurate. However, I also think we develop patterns of anxiety. I believe the body gets conditioned to create anxiety because we get positive relief when the worries aren’t realized. We create anticipatory stress and anxiety concerning how something is going to go, what’s going to happen, and all the worst-case scenarios. When the situation actually occurs, we are often relieved to learn that the anxiety, stress, or worry we had didn’t come to fruition. We experience elation on the basis that the thing we were worried about didn’t come true. In that process, we create both the problem and the solution. The irony is that ALL of it is in our mind, a complete fabrication that is distinctly separate from reality. It is always our choice whether to engage. We can choose to focus on the present, or we can hop on the roller-coaster in our mind. Mindfulness allows us the opportunity to see the choice, and then if we are mindful, with practice, we can choose not to follow the stories in our head. Q. Are mindfulness practices in conflict with adversarial work in law? Quite the contrary. I think we are doing our best for our clients and our profession when we respond rather than react. When I am mindful, I can hold my ground, evaluate the argument from the other side, decide how best to proceed, and, if the other side is approaching me from a reactive state, choose not to get swept up into their manner of handling things. Q. What do you find particularly challenging about practicing law? Not taking the job home with me. In Oregon we have a fantastic bar, and, thankfully, it is rare to deal with an opposing attorney who is hostile. But we all know hostility when we experience it. I think I’ve always been able to handle difficult attorneys from a case perspective, but I would take it home with me – especially, if I became reactive in response. Being mindful has had an incredible impact for me in this area. Q. What tips do you have for lawyers who are considering starting a mindfulness practice? Try a breathwork class. Start a meditation practice: Keep it simple and short to start: Give yourself time constraints that you can be successful with. It can be breathing for thirty seconds (or even three breaths) twice a day. Set a timer. If the timer goes off and you want to sit longer, sit longer. Find a quiet space: Mornings are chaotic. It’s important to find a space where you won’t be disturbed. Create anchors: If you still the body, the mind will follow. Find a comfortable seat. Focus on stilling the body (committing to being still), then find the breath. The mind quiets on its own. If the mind turns on, just keep coming back to the anchors of the body and the breath. We don’t quiet the mind with more thinking; we quiet the mind by anchoring in the body and the breath. Don’t be discouraged when the mind doesn’t shut off. The mind doesn’t shut off and stay off. Don’t wait until you feel “ready.” You can begin anytime. Q. Parting thoughts? The great irony is that we often go searching for some “thing” to give us a feeling of a greater purpose. But the truth is that “thing” is in the middle of our chest, and the path to it waits quietly in the whisper of the breath. It’s always there, waiting for us to return.   Our thanks to David Rosen for this article. David is a lawyer, yoga instructor, and breathwork instructor in Bend, Oregon.  
December 2017 - Full IssueDecember 2017PDF
How I Networked My Way to My Dream Job Out of Law SchoolDecember 2017HTMLIn this interview, an Oregon lawyer shares her story about her networking experiences and how they led her to her career path. What was your first job after law school? When I graduated from law school, I knew that I wanted a job in policy work, but I didn’t know which area. I was particularly interested in criminal justice reform, healthcare, or education. I knew that one way to give myself more time to make this decision was with a clerkship where I would get a wide range of experience and meet a range of people in different practice areas. I was able to get a judicial clerkship out of law school, and shortly after starting, I began networking. I first met with a judge who gave me two names of people to meet with, and I followed up with them. I then met with someone at a healthcare agency, which started me thinking that the healthcare policy world was where I wanted to be. How many people did you network with? Lots! Each person I talked to would give me about two to three more names of people to contact. They weren’t all doing healthcare policy work, but they were all lawyers. Oregon is too small a community to say no to someone who is willing to talk to you. I gained useful information from each person and found that everyone knows someone who knows someone. Did you have specific goals in your networking? In networking I had two goals: the first was to be memorable and to make a personal connection with this person, and the second was to get another name. Lawyers you meet with already know that you are job searching. My goal was to help them remember my name if a job opening came across their desk. When we met, we mostly talked about what they did, not what I was looking for. Like everyone, lawyers like to talk about their career paths and their motivations. I would ask them a lot of questions. I got this advice from someone early on. You don’t have to say what you want to do; just ask them what they do. You will usually find something to relate to, and that personal connection is what makes the person you are talking with willing to recommend your name to the next person. I had many meaningful conversations about things other than work – hiking, pets, law school, social justice issues to name a few which helped make that personal connection. How long did the whole process take? I began my clerkship in August 2013 and started having coffee dates a few months later. I spent about six months networking until I found the specific opportunity I wanted to pursue. What were the most challenging aspects of your job search? For me, the hardest part of looking for a job is always the first step, whether it’s networking or submitting a job application. The other challenge for me was answering the “What do you want to do?” question. This was a challenge because I felt that part of the reason I was networking was to discover what policy jobs were available. I had to become comfortable with answering the question pretty broadly. I knew this was the beginning of a journey to my career path of choice, which is to influence policy at the state or even federal level. I did not want a traditional lawyer career path, and I would constantly feel the pressures of joining private practice, especially when I did not offer a specific answer to the “What do you want to do” question. I found that if I was confident and direct with my answer – that I wanted to do policy work and influence legislative changes to serve Oregonians – people respected that and wanted to help. My advice is to look inward first – you know yourself better than anyone – and then determine the necessary steps to get to the future you want. As you gather information and learn more about career paths, you may find a better path. For me, it was all about the journey, not finding the “perfect job.” How did you overcome any setbacks or obstacles along the way? Another big challenge was to be patient during my job search and not get too stressed. I was really lucky to have my clerkship to rely on. It gave me stability, and I was able to be patient while I looked for a job. Once I figured out what I wanted to do, sometimes I would have to say no to opportunities that I knew were not the career path I wanted. It would have been tempting to say yes just because it was convenient. I had to continue to listen to myself and know that I decided on this path and I need to be comfortable with my decision. I am beyond grateful that along this path I found people who did support me, and those folks are extremely valuable. What did you learn through the process? I learned that it’s very important to be really well organized about whom you are networking with, because when the networking tree grows, it can become a large number of people quickly. People don’t always get back to you right away, so I had to have a method to track contacts, follow-ups, thank-you notes, and details about where and when we met and what we discussed. What advice do you have for recent graduates and new lawyers? I found that people were really willing to help, so my advice would be to jump in and start networking. I found everyone to be unbelievably supportive and kind. People want to help. Also, I found it was quite valuable to follow up with the people I networked with and to update them on my search. I sent an initial thank you and also emailed the original person to let him or her know I met with the contact and what we discussed. I was surprised to find people appreciated my checking in with them. How did you find time to make all those contacts and do all that networking? In terms of reaching out to people, I used the same base information and varied it. The first email I wrote took me a long time to write, but once I had one or two versions, I started with the same email for everyone and changed the details. I did the same for every follow-up thank-you note as well, which cut down on some of the time. In terms of actual networking, I tried to have two coffees a month. Or I would invite particular people to join me at a bar event. Or it might be a quick phone call over lunch. So the initial part of networking was time-consuming, but after that, once I got going, I got into a rhythm. Is there anything else you found helpful? I also found that meeting with so many people helped with my job interview skills. Networking is great practice for interviews. I became well-versed in what to say. Applying for 50 jobs sounds exhausting, but having one-on-one conversations with people is doable. That familiarity gave me a leg up and saved time in the end. For example, if I found out a job opportunity would be available in the near future, I would try to meet with as many of the people involved with that job as possible beforehand. Although these coffees and phone calls are not job interviews, they allowed me to get to know people in a more relaxed setting and they got to know me. It also gave me an opportunity to show that I could follow through and take initiative. - Grateful for All the Support The OAAP is available to assist with career transition. Please call 503-226-1057 to brainstorm ideas, hone your job search skills, and do some self-assessment.
My Life Before Recovery: The Good, the Bad, and the UglyDecember 2017HTMLI think of my life two years ago as a layer cake composed of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The “good” was a very thick layer at the bottom that formed the foundation of the cake: a wonderful, loving, supportive family; a challenging and interesting profession in the law working with people who had known me for years and who generally appreciated and valued my contributions; lots of friends from many walks of life; a lovely home in a great neighborhood; and many other gifts, including good health, economic security, and the intelligence to do my job well. The “bad” was a much smaller layer on top of the “good” – a workaholic tendency, negative self-talk and self-criticism, some overeating, a challenging relationship with my father, an imperfect husband, and so on – not uncommon in the life of a successful, mid-50-year-old, first-world professional. The thin layer of “ugly” on the top of the cake was alcohol. After eight to nine years of alcoholic drinking, that thin layer of ugly was seeping down into the other layers of my life and poisoning them. The more I drank, the more contaminated my life became. In my last four to five years of drinking, I could no longer enjoy any leisure activity without pouring alcohol on it. Gardening, cooking, sewing, camping, hiking, socializing, traveling – you name it – it was all being mixed with booze. My disease insisted on being fed when I wasn’t working. Undoubtedly, it was just a matter of time before it would also insist on being fed at work. The poisonous, saturating layer of alcohol wasn’t helping my “bad” layer either. All my fears, self-doubt, insecurities, workaholic tendencies, shaky relationships, appetites, and so on were worse when I drank. The self-loathing that I began to feel about my drinking became a perpetual addition to the “bad” layer; it took every negative quality in that layer and made it worse. My alcoholism snuck up on me in my mid-40s. In general, I had been a “take-it-or-leave-it” drinker most of my adult life. In fact, having witnessed the havoc that alcoholism can create in a family, I was doubly determined not to fall into that trap. My father had been an alcoholic, and I was not going to be like him. However, the disease was like a fish in the ocean that kept getting bigger and bigger. I didn’t notice it growing. In the meantime, I was losing my strength as age, daily stresses, and a few major life changes had me turning to alcohol for comfort and joy. The day came when I couldn’t reel the fish in. I had crossed a line and I couldn’t turn back. I had to drink. It was no longer a choice. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I had to get to the buzz level I wanted and then hold that level of buzz for the rest of the day. The fish was stronger than me, and I knew it. I did not want anyone to know that I had slipped into alcoholism. I may not have had the gift of denial, but I was a control-freak perfectionist and I knew how to be sneaky and cover my tracks. Thus began about a decade of devious, obsessive behavior focused on keeping up appearances and not letting anyone see my growing dependence on alcohol. What kinds of things did I do to hide my drinking and alcohol consumption? Drank before and after events, so the amount I consumed in public looked normal. Purchased hard alcohol in little “airplane-sized” bottles to hide in my purse or briefcase – but only alcohol that came in plastic bottles so the bottles didn’t clink together. Bought hard alcohol in liquor stores all over town, so no one store or clerk got to “know” me. Bought wine in disposable paper 1-liter cartons – again so I could hide it in my briefcase or tote without the weight or noise of glass. Bought three-ounce plastic travel containers and poured alcohol into those to keep with me during the day – especially on weekends or evenings. Switched to vodka – at first “regular” and then 100 proof – because it took less to maintain my buzz. Also, didn’t I read somewhere that you can’t smell vodka on someone’s breath? Hid “my” stash of alcohol in secret places in the house so bottles of wine weren’t mysteriously disappearing from the wine rack and levels of hard alcohol weren’t going down. Developed elaborate systems for disposing of empty bottles. Snuck alcohol onto airplanes so I could drink on flights – without my husband or (if he wasn’t with me) other passengers observing the amount I was drinking. My disease progressed over time, and in my last year of active drinking I reached the point where work was the only area of my life that I hadn’t poisoned. The barriers to not drinking at work were starting to crumble. Working over the weekend? Staying late at the office? Doing a task that feels somewhat routine or tedious? Let’s make it more fun by adding alcohol. Not too much, mind you – just enough to bring on the buzz and take the edge off. Of course, I would keep coffee and mints at the ready, just in case my breath could give away my secret. No one has told me that they knew I had a drinking problem. I never got caught. I was never confronted. I never had a friend or relative take me aside and ask, “Is everything OK?” I went into counseling in the winter of 2015 and tearfully shared my story with my counselor. I finally “came out” to my husband in June of that year. He had no idea that I had become an alcoholic. Neither of my children (in their 20s) knew that my drinking had gotten out of control. Starting in fall 2015, I told a few friends that I had gone to an outpatient treatment program and was now regularly attending 12-step meetings. They were also shocked. You could say that I got away with it. Except I didn’t – because I never fooled myself. I knew what I was doing and how bad things had gotten. As an adult and a professional, I had worked hard to earn the respect of others, not in a false, insecure way, but by acting in a way that earned respect – being honest, reliable, hard-working, thoughtful, and sometimes maybe even a little wise. At the same time, there was an inner voice that constantly told me that I actually didn’t deserve respect. When I was in my active addiction, I was leading a double life, a secretive life, a dishonest life. In my soul, I knew I needed to get into recovery and get sober. As of this writing, I have just over two years of sobriety and recovery under my belt. What is my life like now? There is no comparison. My “good” has gotten even better, the “bad” is manageable, and the “ugly” has all but disappeared. My brain and life are no longer hijacked by booze. The mental energy I used to expend scheming about the purchase of alcohol and tracking the disposal of the evidence is a thing of the past. The fish is but a minnow in the lake, albeit one I watch closely and take very seriously. I now look ahead to retirement, grandparenting (fingers crossed!), and vacationing with anticipation rather than dread. I have two years of alcohol-free living under my belt, including leisure activities (book groups, parties, barbecues, and work events), home tasks (cooking, sewing, gardening, and entertaining) and travel (conferences, vacations, long weekends). I enjoy all these things without constantly obsessing about where the next drink is coming from and how I can hide it from others. I still think about alcohol. I miss being a “take-it-or-leave-it” drinker. It would be nice to enjoy a glass or two of wine to take the edge off. But I am not going there; I’m not feeding that fish; I’m not kidding myself into thinking I can ever “drink like a gentleman” again. Through the support and wisdom of three 12-step groups that I have grown close to (including one at the OAAP), I now have other tools to help me handle life’s ups and downs. I appreciate the support of the OAAP and its confidential recovery meetings for lawyers. Instead of a thin layer of “ugly” seeping into my life, I am slowly working on creating a nice layer of peace and serenity. Having that layer of calm and tranquility soak down into the rest of my life would be a fine thing indeed. - Choosing the “Good”
Developing Healthy Habits: Strategies for SuccessDecember 2017HTMLI wish I exercised more regularly. I wish I did not snack between meals. I wish I spent less time surfing the Web. I wish I could stop procrastinating. I wish I could stop smoking. I wish. I wish. I wish. The list can seem endless. At times, the human condition seems to be a constant struggle between what we would like to do, what we need to do, and what, in fact, we do. It can often feel as if we are in a perpetual state of New Year’s resolutions. Social psychologists, neuroscientists, and other researchers are arriving at new understandings about how people successfully manage to change their behaviors. They have identified a variety of physiological and psychological factors that affect our ability to harness our willpower to break bad habits and develop new and healthy ones. Two of the leading authorities in this area are Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., and Roy Baumeister, Ph.D. Both are authors of best-selling books and articles on the science of willpower, self-control, and the formation of healthy habits. Below are some of their observations, research findings, and recommendations. Willpower is like a muscle. We have a finite supply of willpower on any given day. It is a limited resource; the more we use our willpower, the less of it remains as the day goes on. According to Baumeister, current research indicates that most of us spend three or more hours every day resisting desires. This is a normal part of living. Additionally, we routinely use our self-control resources for many other activities, such as managing our thoughts, focusing our thinking, and regulating our emotions. In short, we are constantly exercising willpower throughout our day. Stress diminishes willpower. According to McGonigal, our bodies naturally prioritize our use of the energy resources we have. We use our willpower resources every time we make decisions, control our thoughts and emotions, and exercise personal restraint in our behavior. When stressed, however, our bodies automatically divert energy from those areas of the brain responsible for these healthy activities; we instead focus on immediate, short-term, and sometimes unwise thoughts and activities. For example, it is more likely that we will make poor decisions, utter a sarcastic remark, or procrastinate on a work project when we are stressed and our self-control resources are depleted. Managing our stress is thus essential to preserving our willpower. Going for a short walk, connecting with a friend, or playing with a pet are examples of stress-reducers that help us replenish our willpower reserves. Sleep affects willpower. Research demonstrates that when we are well rested, we are more likely to resist unhealthy temptations and make healthy decisions. Many of us know all too well that, when we are sleep-deprived, our decision-making suffers and we are more likely to engage in the unhealthy habits we are trying to avoid. Nutrition affects willpower. Baumeister and McGonigal both emphasize the importance of a healthy diet and sufficient blood glucose levels in maintaining willpower energy reserves. Baumeister’s research confirms that self-control tends to be noticeably impaired when glucose levels are low; for example, difficulty regulating emotions, resisting impulsivity, and engaging in aggressive behavior is more common when these levels are low. According to McGonigal, “Eating a more plant-based, less-processed diet makes energy more available to the brain and can improve every aspect of willpower from overcoming procrastination to sticking with a New Year’s resolution.” Carefully choose a goal. When seeking to develop new habits, McGonigal advises us to choose a goal that we really want, not a goal that someone else desires for us, and also to give thought to the steps needed to accomplish our goal. However, she adds, “Leave room to revise these steps if they turn out to be unsustainable or don’t lead to the benefits you expected.” Better to revise the plan than to give up the goal. Pay attention. According to McGonigal, “One study found that the average person thinks they make 14 food choices a day; they actually make over 200. When you aren’t aware that you’re making a choice, you’ll almost always default to habit/temptation.” It’s important to be alert to those times when we have opportunities to make choices consistent with our goals. Start small. When embarking on a new habit or behavior, it helps, says McGonigal, to start with small feats of willpower before trying to tackle more difficult ones. Ideally, we should seek to identify the smallest change that is consistent with our larger goal and start there. For example, walking or jogging for 10 minutes may be a better way to begin an aerobic program than starting off at 60 minutes. Willpower is contagious. Find a willpower role model – someone who has accomplished what you want to do. Also, we should try to surround ourselves with family members and friends who can support us in our efforts. We are much more likely to achieve the behavior change we seek if we have role models and a support system. Mornings are best. We generally have more willpower earlier in the day; thereafter, our willpower steadily declines throughout the day as we fatigue. We should try to accomplish what we need – for example, exercise – earlier in the day. Watch out for the evenings, when we have less willpower to resist the habits we are trying to break. Give yourself healthy rewards. It’s okay to give ourselves small, healthy rewards along the way. Research shows this is effective when undertaking new habits. The reward, of course, should generally not be an excessive indulgence in the very habit we are trying to break. Seize today. We need to avoid thinking that “things will be different tomorrow.” McGonigal notes that we have a tendency to think that we will have more willpower, energy, time, and motivation in the future. We tend to tell ourselves that tomorrow, next week, or next month will be a better time to start our diet, exercise program, and so on. The problem is that “if we think we have the opportunity to make a different choice tomorrow, we almost always ‘give in’ to temptation or habit today.” Monitor and keep records. It’s difficult to manage what we don’t monitor. Baumeister’s research clearly confirms that the more frequently and consistently we monitor and record our efforts, the more successful we will be in changing or developing new habits. The person who weighs daily and records his or her weight, for example, is statistically more likely to lose weight than the person who does so weekly, monthly, or only sporadically. In addition, having a supportive friend as an accountability partner also increases the likelihood of success. Whatever the behavior, consistent monitoring is invaluable, and innumerable smart phone apps are available to assist us in these efforts. Guilt and shame don’t work. Science today clearly indicates that self-compassion, not self-criticism, is a more effective way to stay on track when seeking to form new, healthy habits; self-compassion tends to encourage one to better achieve his or her goals. Although it seems counterintuitive, studies show that people who experience shame or guilt are much more likely to break their resolutions than those who cut themselves some slack. Developing new, healthy habits or eliminating unhealthy ones sometimes requires more than simply the exercise of willpower alone. Professional assistance is sometimes necessary. For example, the most effective way to change unhealthy substance use or other problematic behaviors is to obtain the advice of a trained professional. Making the decision to seek assistance and following through is, in itself, the healthy exercise of willpower. The confidential Oregon Attorney Assistance Program can be a valuable resource when seeking to develop healthy habits.   Resources: Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2012). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York: Penguin Books. McGonigal, K. (2012). The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York: Avery.
I Survived Law School Debt - and You Can, TooSeptember 2017PDF
Lawyer Parents, This Is for YouSeptember 2017PDF
Mindful Self-Compassion and the Practice of LawSeptember 2017PDF
Thank You, Mike!September 2017PDF
September 2017 - Full IssueSeptember 2017PDF
The Role of Self-Care in Successful RecoveryJune 2017PDF
How Mentorship Guided Me to the Right Career PathJune 2017PDF
Frequently Asked Questions About 12-Step ProgramsJune 2017PDF
The Right Way to Say "I'm Sorry"June 2017PDF
Use AmazonSmile: Help Us Help LawyersJune 2017PDF
June 2017 - Full IssueJune 2017PDF
Navigating the Waters of Career TransitionMarch 2017PDF
I Finally Feel Like I FitMarch 2017PDF
Stress Management Self-Help ChecklistMarch 2017PDF
Develop a "Stress Relief Toolbox"March 2017PDF
Start a Stress JournalMarch 2017PDF
Reach out and Build RelationshipsMarch 2017PDF
March 2017 - Full IssueMarch 2017PDF
Give to Yourself This Holiday SeasonDecember 2016PDF
Looking Forward: Improving Our Health and Well-BeingDecember 2016PDF
Oregon Lawyer Assistance FoundationDecember 2016PDF
"Happy" EnhancersDecember 2016PDF
December 2016 - Full IssueDecember 2016PDF
Talking About Sex AddictionSeptember 2016PDF
Resources for Sex AddictionSeptember 2016PDF
2016 Oregon Lawyer Retirement SurveySeptember 2016PDF
September 2016 - Full IssueSeptember 2016PDF
Positive Emotions and Taking in the GoodJune 2016PDF
Finding My Balance: Perspectives from a Lawyer ParentJune 2016PDF
National Study on Lawyer Substance Use and Mental HealthJune 2016PDF
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Control Your Stress ChecklistMarch 2016PDF
How I Networked My Way Into A New LifeMarch 2016PDF
Mindfulness Without MeditatingMarch 2016PDF
Regaining My Life After Compulsive OvereatingMarch 2016PDF
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Getting UnstuckDecember 2015PDF
How to Let Go of Holiday ExpectationsDecember 2015PDF
Lawyer Well-BeingDecember 2015PDF
December 2015 - Full IssueDecember 2015PDF
Marijuana: My Path from Addiction to RecoverySeptember 2015PDF
Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know References and ResourcesSeptember 2015PDF
Marijuana: What Parents Need to KnowSeptember 2015PDF
Coping Tips for Families of Persons with a Mental Health ConditionSeptember 2015PDF
Welcome, Bryan!September 2015PDF
September 2015 - Full IssueSeptember 2015PDF
Domestic Violence in Families of ProfessionalsJune 2015PDF
OWLS and OAAP 8th Annual Women's RetreatJune 2015PDF
Returning to Work After a Health Leave of AbsenceJune 2015PDF
Top 10 Bar Exam Stress Management ToolsJune 2015PDF
Top 25 Bar Exam Stress Management ToolsJune 2015PDF  
June 2015 - Full IssueJune 2015PDF
Five Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit LawyersMarch 2015PDF
How I Broke the Cycle of Pain and AddictionMarch 2015PDF
Navigating From Divorce to New BeginningsMarch 2015PDF
March 2015 - Full IssueMarch 2015PDF
Mental Health First AidMarch 2015PDF
Coping with Seasonal ChangesDecember 2014PDF
Reflections on Grief and LossDecember 2014PDF
The Gifts of the HolidaysDecember 2014PDF
The Quality of Your LifeDecember 2014PDF
December 2014 - Full IssueDecember 2014PDF
A Mindful RetreatAugust 2014PDF
Discover Your Hidden Power of DisciplineAugust 2014PDF
Relapse After Long-Term SobrietyAugust 2014PDF
August 2014 - Full IssueAugust 2014PDF
A Judge Reached Out to HelpApril 2014PDF
A Preventable TragedyApril 2014PDF
Bouncing Back - A Short Guide to ResilienceApril 2014PDF
Welcome, Kyra!April 2014PDF
April 2014 - Full IssueApril 2014PDF
Clues About AlcoholismNovember 2013PDF
Losing Holly: A True Story About GriefNovember 2013PDF
Most Common Characteristics of ADDNovember 2013PDF
Plan a Stress-Less HolidayNovember 2013PDF
Thank You, Meloney!November 2013PDF
November 2013 - Full IssueNovember 2013PDF
An Unintended DestinationOctober 2013PDF
Book Review: The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging BrainOctober 2013PDF
Choosing Happiness: Sixth Annual OAAP/OWLS Women's Wellness RetreatOctober 2013PDF
Seeing the Positive in ChangeOctober 2013PDF
October 2013 - Full IssueOctober 2013PDF
10 Tips for Family CaregiversMarch 2013PDF
12 Things That Mess Up RecoveryMarch 2013PDF
Caregiving Statistics; Assistance for Caregivers - ResourcesMarch 2013PDF
Lessons from Lawyers: Achieving Work-Life BalanceMarch 2013PDF
Ways to Approach a Difficult TopicMarch 2013PDF
March 2013 - Full IssueMarch 2013PDF
Getting a Handle on ADDDecember 2012PDF
Job Search and Career Transition AssistanceDecember 2012PDF
Putting the Brakes on Age-Related DeclineDecember 2012PDF
What Can You Do With A Law Degree?December 2012PDF
December 2012 - Full IssueDecember 2012PDF
30 Years of Helping Lawyers and JudgesSeptember 2012PDF
A Whole New Way of LifeSeptember 2012PDF
Introvert's Survival Guide for Networking EventsSeptember 2012PDF
Judges Helping JudgesSeptember 2012PDF
OLAF Helps During Tough Economic TimesSeptember 2012PDF
That Person Really Irritates Me!September 2012PDF
September 2012 - Full IssueSeptember 2012PDF
A Law Student's Journey to RecoveryJune 2012PDF
Fifth Annual Women's Wellness Retreat for LawyersJune 2012PDF
In Memoriam Donald Muccigrosso 1936-2012June 2012PDF
Understanding the Grief ProcessJune 2012PDF
June 2012 - Full IssueJune 2012PDF
Do You Need a Financial Professional?March 2012PDF
Lawyers at Risk for Compassion FatigueMarch 2012PDF
Leg-Up on HappinessMarch 2012PDF
Time to Disconnect?March 2012PDF
March 2012 - Full IssueMarch 2012PDF
Divorcing Families and the HolidaysDecember 2011PDF
Organizing Life Your WayDecember 2011PDF
Work-Life Balance: Perspectives from Male LawyersDecember 2011PDF
How to Say "No"September 2011PDF
It Couldn't Happen to MeSeptember 2011PDF
The Dream World of the GamblerSeptember 2011PDF
Oregon Women Lawyers and OAAP Create ConnectionsJune 2011PDF
Simple Time Management ToolJune 2011PDF
Summertime - Time for RelaxationJune 2011PDF
Ten Steps to Using LinkedIn In Your Job SearchJune 2011PDF
Fatal Myth: The High-Functioning AlcoholicMarch 2011PDF
Building Stress HardinessMarch 2011PDF
Book Review: Retire RightMarch 2011PDF
Ten Happy Tips for LawyersJanuary 2011PDF
A Traumatic Toll on Lawyers and JudgesJanuary 2011PDF
Women and AddictionSeptember 2010PDF
Training Tips for the Job Search MarathonSeptember 2010PDF
Active Listening: Hear What People Are Really SayingSeptember 2010PDF
Women Lawyers: Embracing Our Authentic SelvesJune 2010PDF
Seven Things To Do While Your Dream Job MaterializesJune 2010PDF
Overcoming DepressionJune 2010PDF
Transitions: Embracing Life's ChangesMarch 2010PDF
Networking for IntrovertsMarch 2010PDF
A Feminine Perspective on AddictionMarch 2010PDF
The Power of GratitudeDecember 2009PDF
Preventing Suicide: A Challenge to the Legal ProfessionDecember 2009PDF
In Memoriam - Walton E. Byrd, MDDecember 2009PDF
Can We Talk . . . About Money?December 2009PDF
Substance Abuse as a Family Disease Part II: The Family in RecoverySeptember 2009PDF
OAAP Notice of Privacy PracticesSeptember 2009PDF
Mindfulness as a Path to Taking Charge of Your LifeSeptember 2009PDF
Economic Recovery ResourcesSeptember 2009PDF
Women Lawyers - Building a Balanced LifeJune 2009PDF
Tips to Stay Sober on VacationJune 2009PDF
Substance Abuse as a Family Disease Part I: Impact on the FamilyJune 2009PDF
De-Stressing Your Summer VacationJune 2009PDF
Reinvent, Rejuvenate, Have Some FunMarch 2009PDF
Reflections on RetirementMarch 2009PDF
Managing Anxiety in Uncertain TimesMarch 2009PDF
Alcohol and Old LaceMarch 2009PDF
Your Children and Drugs: Are the Kids All Right?December 2008PDF
The Key to Successful Lifestyle ChangesDecember 2008PDF
Lawyers at Midlife: Laying the Groundwork for the Road AheadDecember 2008PDF
In Memoriam Michael J. Sweeney 1949-2008December 2008PDF
What Can You Do When Someone Dies?September 2008PDF
Transform Your Life Through BreathingSeptember 2008PDF
Preventing Relapse Before It StartsSeptember 2008PDF
How Personal Intelligence Impacts Your Professional EffectivenessSeptember 2008PDF
Women's Wellness Retreat Recharges!June 2008PDF
Reassessing Goals Now That You're a PartnerJune 2008PDF
My Journey from Alcoholism to Sobriety, Recovery, and the BenchJune 2008PDF
Cancer Taught Me to Live in the PresentJune 2008PDF
The Road Back to IntegrityMarch 2008PDF
Planning for the Needs of Aging ParentsMarch 2008PDF
Myths and Facts About MethamphetamineMarch 2008PDF
Recovery Reinstates HopeDecember 2007PDF
Planning a Strategy for Enjoying the HolidaysDecember 2007PDF
Infuse Passion Into Your CareerDecember 2007PDF
Coping with Winter DepressionDecember 2007PDF
An Obvious and Inexpensive ExerciseDecember 2007PDF
Tips for Improving Your Time ManagementSeptember 2007PDF
The OAAP Attorney CounselorsSeptember 2007PDF
Substance Abuse Often Co-Exists with an Undiagnosed IllnessSeptember 2007PDF
Overcoming Personal AdversitySeptember 2007PDF
Be a Better ListenerSeptember 2007PDF
A Day in the Life of the OAAPSeptember 2007PDF
25 Years of Lawyers Helping LawyersSeptember 2007PDF
The Art of the Informational InterviewJuly 2007PDF
Social Support and the Reduction of StressJuly 2007PDF
Humor Your Way to Happiness, Health, and SuccessJuly 2007PDF
A Whole New Way of LifeJuly 2007PDF
Who's Enjoying Practicing Law?May 2007PDF
What to Expect in TreatmentMay 2007PDF
What Can You Do With Your Law Degree?May 2007PDF
Relapse Warning SignsMay 2007PDF
Recovery Support for LawyersMay 2007PDF
OAAP Attorney Counselor Michael Sweeney RetiresMay 2007PDF
Welcome, Doug!December 2006PDF
TriggersDecember 2006PDF
Managing Your AngerDecember 2006PDF
Coping with Angry Opposing CounselDecember 2006PDF
Aging and AddictionDecember 2006PDF
A "Fixer" Finds HappinessDecember 2006PDFa
Speaking of Retirement!September 2006PDF
Relax and Be More ProductiveSeptember 2006PDF
Creating a Satisfying Life After DivorceSeptember 2006PDF
10 Proven Stress ReducersSeptember 2006PDF
Signs of Problem GamblingJune 2006PDF
Pay Your Monthly Bills - SimplyJune 2006PDF
Hey, Big Spender!June 2006PDF
Contract LawyeringJune 2006PDF
At RiskJune 2006PDF
Those Friends Thou HastMarch 2006PDF
OAAP: Confidentially YoursMarch 2006PDF
My Path to Career SynergyMarch 2006PDF
Meaning at MidcourseMarch 2006PDF
Book Review: Now, Discover Your StrengthsMarch 2006PDF
Women Lawyers: Navigating Your Legal CareerDecember 2005PDF
Searching for SerenityDecember 2005PDF
Revitalizing Your PracticeDecember 2005PDF
Eight Gifts That Won't Cost One CentDecember 2005PDF
There's No Place Like HomeSeptember 2005PDF
The Ground FloorSeptember 2005PDF
The Emotional SeesawSeptember 2005PDF
The Balancing ActSeptember 2005PDF
Additional Career ResourcesSeptember 2005PDF
What to Expect at 12-Step MeetingsJune 2005PDF
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics AnonymousJune 2005PDF
Seven Things To Do While Your Dream Job MaterializesJune 2005PDF
Procrastination Self-TestJune 2005PDF
Procrastination - The Thief of TimeJune 2005PDF
Planning for a Life That WorksMarch 2005PDF
Living with Adult ADDMarch 2005PDF
Compulsive GamblingMarch 2005PDF
Attention Deficit Disorder in AdultsMarch 2005PDF
What Everyone Needs to Know About Sexual AddictionDecember 2004PDF
Tips for Having a Happy HolidayDecember 2004PDF
Taking Control of Your CareerDecember 2004PDF
Reflections on Depression: Ten Years LaterDecember 2004PDF
Knowing When It's Time to Look for a New JobDecember 2004PDF
September 2004 - Full IssueSeptember 2004PDF
The FixerSeptember 2004PDF
Intervention Can Save an Alcoholic's LifeSeptember 2004PDF
How a Legal Recruiter Can Help Your CareerSeptember 2004PDF
Family RolesSeptember 2004PDF
Understanding CodependencyJune 2004PDF
Transitioning Back to MeJune 2004PDF
The Gift of RecoveryJune 2004PDF
Reducing Your Stress Can Enhance Your PerformanceJune 2004PDF
Transform Your Practice with Transforming PracticesMarch 2004PDF
Tales from the Other BarMarch 2004PDF
Managing Life and WorkMarch 2004PDF
Interested in Learning More?March 2004PDF
Controlling My StormMarch 2004PDF
Workshop for Progress and Growth in SobrietyDecember 2003PDF
The Silent PredatorDecember 2003PDF
The "S" Stands for "Shame"December 2003PDF
Sex Addiction ResourcesDecember 2003PDF
Holiday Survival GuideDecember 2003PDF
Finding a New NicheDecember 2003PDF
Facts About HypertensionDecember 2003PDF
Breast Cancer Prevention Book ReviewDecember 2003PDF
Addiction Treatment WorksDecember 2003PDF
Signs That You're Ready to RetireSeptember 2003PDF
Signs of CodependencySeptember 2003PDF
OAAP Privacy NoticeSeptember 2003PDF
Law Students in RecoverySeptember 2003PDF
Committed to RecoverySeptember 2003PDF
CodependencySeptember 2003PDF
My Struggle with AlcoholJune 2003PDF
Lawyers in LoveJune 2003PDF
Effective CommunicationJune 2003PDFbanana
Breast Cancer? Let Me Check My Schedule!June 2003PDF
An Unplanned Path to Planned GivingJune 2003PDF
Speaking of DepressionMarch 2003PDF
Lawyers Caught in the NetMarch 2003PDF
Confidential OAAP Satisfaction QuestionnaireMarch 2003PDF
Change Can Refresh Your CareerMarch 2003PDF
Working at Home WorksDecember 2002PDF
Tips for Balancing Your LifeDecember 2002PDF
Nature as HealerDecember 2002PDF
Holiday Sobriety SurvivalDecember 2002PDF
Domestic ViolenceDecember 2002PDF
Coping with the Holiday "Blues"December 2002PDF
Thinking Ahead About RetirementAugust 2002PDF
The Stages of ChangeAugust 2002PDF
Overcoming Resistance to Career ChangeAugust 2002PDF
My Struggle With Cocaine AddictionAugust 2002PDF
Fast Facts About Stimulant DrugsAugust 2002PDF
Career Change ResourcesAugust 2002PDF
Lawyers in Recovery Have Low Claim Rates!April 2002PDF
Gambling: You Bet Your LifeApril 2002PDF
ForgivenessApril 2002PDF
E-StressApril 2002PDF
Career Paths for Women Lawyers - Planning for a Life That WorksApril 2002PDF
New PerspectivesJanuary 2002PDF
How to Look for Work When You Work Full TimeJanuary 2002PDF
Family and Friends of Problem DrinkersJanuary 2002PDF
Buried AliveJanuary 2002PDF
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)October 2001PDF
Other Bumps in the Road - DepressionOctober 2001PDF
How to Support a Child During CrisisOctober 2001PDF
How to Be a Good ListenerOctober 2001PDF
Guidelines for Managers Providing Support to Employees Following a Critical IncidentOctober 2001PDF
Coping and Self-Care After Trauma and TragedyOctober 2001PDF
Should You Take or Create a Nontraditional Law Job?September 2001PDF
Preventing Alcoholism RelapseSeptember 2001PDF
On-Line Services for the Legal Job-SeekerSeptember 2001PDF
My Most Precious GiftSeptember 2001PDF
Hoping to Retire in Ten Years or Less?September 2001PDF
Some Traits of the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality DisorderJune 2001PDF
Obsessions and CompulsionsJune 2001PDF
Michigan Alcohol Screening Test - Geriatric VersionJune 2001PDF
How to Take a VacationJune 2001PDF
Finding a Life While Practicing LawJune 2001PDF
Anger ManagementJune 2001PDF
Alcohol and AgingJune 2001PDF
Seven "S's" for Stress ManagementMarch 2001PDF
Improve Your Life With Personal CoachingMarch 2001PDF
How to Choose a CoachMarch 2001PDF
Go Home Satisfied Every Day!March 2001PDF
And Now a Word About "Sponsorship"March 2001PDF
How to Find Satisfying Jobs and CareersDecember 2000PDF
Hormone HavocDecember 2000PDF
Holiday Sobriety SurvivalDecember 2000PDF
Divorce and StressDecember 2000PDF
The FighterAugust 2000PDF
Rethinking RetirementAugust 2000PDF
Heroin: Misconceptions, Illusions, and TruthAugust 2000PDF
Addicted to HeroinAugust 2000PDF
Rethinking ProcrastinationApril 2000PDF
Looking for a New Career Path?April 2000PDF
Feeling BetterApril 2000PDF
A Woman Alcoholic's StoryApril 2000PDF
Women Attorneys Support GroupJanuary 2000PDF
The Weight of DepressionJanuary 2000PDF
OAAP - Confidentially YoursJanuary 2000PDF
Life With A Home OfficeJanuary 2000PDF
Intervention - Frequently Asked QuestionsJanuary 2000PDF