Young Lawyers: Start Prioritizing your Health and Wellness Now
Law school and the legal profession are valiant pursuits. Unfortunately, these pursuits have long come at a cost to individuals’ mental health and wellness.
Law school and the legal profession are valiant pursuits. Unfortunately, these pursuits have long come at a cost to individuals’ mental health and wellness. So, you’ve graduated from law school and have gotten your dream job, at a firm - may be at a top-tier firm, or in a large corporate legal department. Congratulations and welcome to a brilliant profession, one where you will be able to make a significant contribution to society. Once the excitement and euphoria of your acceptance of your new position begin to wear off, you may start to wonder, “what have I gotten myself into?” Don’t doubt yourself. The law field needs you! But at the same time, don’t underestimate the demands of your new job. Law school was already an arduous road to where you find yourself now. According to the Dave Nee Foundation, most law students begin school with the same or similar psychological profile as the general population with depression rates under 10%. However, by the end of the first semester, these rates rise to 27%. After 3 years, 40% of law students experienced clinical depression. And it's not just law students. Lawyers are among the most frequently depressed occupational groups in the United States. Unfortunately, lawyers rank fifth in the incidence of suicide by occupation.
Why are lawyers so depressed?
Law school is demanding and it’s unlike any educational climate that most students have encountered before. There is competition, rigorous courses and assignments, and an overarching Darwinian mentality that “only the strong survive.” When it comes to practicing lawyers, the adverse mental health effects can be attributed to many things. The American Bar Association released an article where they asked several lawyers to weigh in on the mental health epidemic within the field of law. Many lawyers commented on the nature of the profession and stress of holding an individual’s fate within their hands. Other lawyers said that the amount of financial debt required to become a lawyer is a difficult burden to bear. Some lawyers speculated on the fact that a lawyer with a substance use problem or clinical depression might be legally required to report these conditions to their state bar. This deters lawyers from seeking help, leading to high rates of suicide and poor coping habits. Can I be a successful young lawyer without becoming depressed? You’re probably wondering if it’s even possible to be a lawyer without falling victim to depression and anxiety. We know, the numbers are shocking. But there is hope. Fortunately, many individuals and institutions are speaking up about wellness within the profession. For example, the Penn Law administration recently put several policies and programs in place to increase awareness regarding wellness in the law field and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. It is absolutely possible to pursue a career in the field of law without sacrificing your mental well-being. While there are countless tools, resources, colleagues and professionals available to you, you may still be overwhelmed at the daunting task of preparing a wellness plan prior to the first day of law school.
Ways to start prioritizing your health and wellness now:
Sounds easy enough, right? So easy that maybe we fail to see how much this simple act can impact our overall wellness. Did you know that stretching improves your posture and reduces fatigue? Stretching can also help you recharge, reenergize, and refocus. Start integrating stretching into your daily routine now and make sure to prioritize it when the going starts to get tough.
Our environment has a direct impact on our health and wellness. Before class begins, make sure you have an organized space, whether that is a dorm room, apartment, or home. Come up with an organization system for your school supplies, backpack, and desk space as well. Organization works wonders in maintaining stress.
3. Eat well.
When we’re stressed, it’s easy to make poor decisions when it comes to our nutrition. Start prioritizing your nutrition now and come up with creative, easy ways to get your essential nutrients daily. Our minds and bodies are so interconnected that the food we put into our bodies has a direct effect on our moods and mental clarity. Take care of your body, and in turn you will take care of your mind!
4. Manage your time.
Time management is a skill that requires practice and consistency. When law school begins, time management is your ultimate tool for mitigating stress and accomplishing your academic goals. However, make sure that you set aside time to prioritize your health and wellbeing in the midst of your assignments, reading, and classes.
Still wondering what you can do to set yourself up for success as a young? That’s where The Vital Lawyer comes in.
What is The Vital Lawyer?
The Vital Lawyer is a safe, invigorating, and inspirational space that offers resources to new and practicing lawyers alike. We offer Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits required to maintain licensure as well as a variety of other tools in the health and wellness space specifically geared towards lawyers. Our mission is to help lawyers implement health and wellness concepts into their lives through education, tools, and more. When young lawyers are happier, they set themselves up for successful careers and they better serve their clients.
The Vital Lawyer Core Values
At The Vital Lawyer, we’ve established a model of core values that we hope all professionals can embody to support their path to becoming whole, happy, and successful lawyers.
We want more than a job after graduation, we want a career in which we endlessly pursue the knowledge to best serve our clients. Law school is the foundation of our careers. Let’s enjoy the process.
We are healthy, we are active, we are energized. We are confident and comfortable in our bodies. We are alive and ready to learn and to serve.
We have cognitive clarity. We are focused, present, creative, intelligent, and we are engaged in our coursework.
We have supportive relationships in which we feel loved and cared for. We nurture these relationships and provide love and care in return. We develop healthy, respectful relationships with our fellow peers, professors, colleagues, and advisors.
We prioritize balance in our lives. We manage our stress, create and honor boundaries, we balance schoolwork with other areas of our lives that we find fulfilling.
We understand that when you start your career, you have already been through law school with all of its challenges, stress, and demands. And now young lawyers face these same challenges and more in your new careers. Now is the time to develop habits with your health and wellness at the core. The right set of habits, information, and tools can help you develop a successful law school career and legal career. And we at The Vital Lawyer are here to support you every step of the way.