The mindful lawyer: apps and other resources

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By Nicole Black
BridgeTower Media Newswires

It’s not easy being a lawyer. Lawyering can be a contentious, combative line of work. Your days are filled with constant and sometimes unexpected deadlines. The stress of practicing law is further compounded by the unrelenting pressure to bring in new books of business. And let’s not forget about billable hour requirements, which only add to the pressure cooker. And in some cases, despite your best efforts, you’re unable to achieve the desired results for your clients.

For all of these reasons, lawyers suffer from depression at twice the rate of the general population, and 40% of law students are clinically depressed before they even graduate. Suicide rates for lawyers are nearly four times higher than other professions; seven in 10 lawyers report that they would change careers if the opportunity arose.

In other words, lawyering isn’t always easy. The good news is there are ways to address the stresses that go hand-in-hand with practicing law. One of the most effective ways you may have not yet considered is to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.

Fortunately, there are lots of mindfulness apps and tools available for lawyers seeking to reduce their stress levels. Here are some of my favorites, all of which are low-cost or free resources designed to get you on your way to a more stress-free existence.

Let’s start with two helpful books. In Dan Harris’ book, “Ten Percent Happier,” Harris provides a great overview of the benefits of mindfulness from a refreshing, matter-of-fact perspective and explains very convincingly what a difference it can make if you’re able to use mindfulness to become just 10% happier.

 “The Anxious Lawyer,” an ABA-published book by attorneys Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford, offers an 8-week guide in which mindfulness is used as a tool to help you achieve a more satisfying and balanced law practice. You can also access guided meditations here: http://theanxiouslawyer.com/category/guided-meditations/.

Another great resource is your smartphone. There is a vast assortment of mindfulness apps available for Android and Apple devices. So much so that it can be difficult to sift through the plethora of options.

But guess what? You’re in luck! I’ve made it easier by doing the legwork.

My two favorite mindfulness apps: Headspace and Calm. Both are very well-known; when they were first released years ago, they offered a large number of free mindfulness meditations, but both have shifted to paid subscription plans, well worth the price once you choose the best fit for your needs.

Both offer a few free guided meditations you can try out. Additionally, if you have Apple TV, all of Calm’s meditations are available for free. And if you use Amazon’s Alexa, you can access a free daily guided meditation from Headspace via the Headspace skill. So those are two other very convenient ways to test out each app’s meditation offerings.

If you’d rather not invest in a monthly subscription payment, check out a free meditation app I recently discovered: Smiling Mind. It’s an app created by an Australian not-for-profit organization, and it offers a vast array of free guided meditations and meditation series.

If you wear an Apple Watch, take advantage of the free, built-in Breathe app. This app reminds you periodically, using a schedule that you determine, to take a minute to focus on your breathing. You also have the option of choosing the “Breathe” watch face for your Apple Watch. This makes it even easier for you to access the app and take a mindful minute for breathing.

And don’t forget to take advantage of support services offered by your local bar association. Bar associations across the country are incorporating mindfulness classes into CLE schedules and providing members with other types of support services to help address stress-related issues,

And last, but not least, watch this video recording of a webinar with Jeena Cho: https://www.mycase. com/blog/2015/01/webinar-re cap-stress-anxiety-mindfulness-increase-happiness-law-practice/.

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Nicole Black is a director at MyCase.com, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is also of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.

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