Well-Being



Who we are and what we are proud of

      • The MSBA Well-Being Committee (previously the Life & the Law Committee) is the committee of the Minnesota State Bar Association dedicated to helping lawyers and legal professionals thrive in both their legal careers and personal lives  Specifically, we accomplish our goals in a variety of ways, including:
        • Providing CLE programs and events dedicated to providing education on career, professional, and personal development,
        • Using our website and other informational materials to provide links and resources relevant to wellness and improving quality of life, and
        • Supporting and collaborating with lawyer assistance programs, including Minnesota Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers.

 

Research shows that a happy, healthy lawyer enjoys a more meaningful practice and personal life while better serving his or her clients. According to the ABA, lawyer well-being involves a continuous process in which lawyers seek to thrive in each of the six dimensions of their lives, and the MSBA Well-Being Committee is committed to helping Minnesota lawyers do exactly that.

 

Life and Law

Minnesota Call to Action for Lawyer Well-Being

  • The Minnesota Supreme Court hosted a Call to Action for lawyer well-being in February 2019 to discuss the widespread challenges lawyers in Minnesota face with regard to well-being. Hundreds of attorneys participated in a seminar that highlighted the struggles lawyers endure, practical steps lawyers and legal employers can take to combat the well-being crisis, and plans for further action to change the culture of the legal profession in Minnesota. Click Here to learn more about the Call to Action, to view related educational materials, and to watch key presentations delivered throughout the seminar.


Join us!

Join us!

 The MSBA Well-Being Committee is excited to share that there has been so much recent interest in lawyer well-being within our community that we now have several volunteer opportunities (short-term and long-term) for lawyers interested in helping us promote lawyer well-being in Minnesota!

The main areas for volunteer participation are:

  1. WRITING:
    • Our goal is to have a consistent presence in MN Bench & Bar focused on content related to well-being, either generally or with personal stories of attorney well-being.
  2. EVENTS/CLEs:
    • We will begin partnering with organizations/affinity bars to have events focused on well-being in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, and we’re looking for folks with ideas for new events and help planning them.
    • We also plan to develop well-being CLEs and are looking for lawyers to create and present on behalf of the Well-Being Committee.
  3. WEBSITE:
    • We are always looking for new ways to add relevant content to our website focused on resources promoting well-being, community wellness events, practical well-being tips, etc. We will also be adding space for articles on well-being, and we invite our members to either forward existing content for re-publication on our website, or to help us create new content in that regard.  

If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, please join us on October 16 from 12:00-1:00 at the MSBA office (Afton Room). A call-in option is available: 877-226-9607; Conference ID 8732028341# 

If you are unable to make the meeting but still want to learn more, please email Patty Beck (pbeck@mlmins.com) or Chase Andersen (candersen@mnlcl.org) and we’d be happy to fill you in!



Committee Meetings

All meetings are from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the office of the Minnesota State Bar Association:

October 16th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Volunteers Needed! We are looking for members to help us: 1) plan events/develop CLEs, 2) provide written contributions to MN Bench & Bar on topics related to well-being, and 3) update our website with relevant well-being content and articles. Please join us to learn more about these opportunities and how to participate!

Additional meetings will be posted as dates are set



Community Wellness Events

As attorneys, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our clients, and the profession to ensure we are maintaining an appropriate work/life balance that allows us to successfully, and ethically, engage in the practice of law. Below are events around the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota that will allow attorneys to take time to engage in activities that promote physical and mental health. If you would like to see additional events added to our page, please contact one of the co-chairs.  

LCL Path to Lawyer Well-Being Group:
The MSBA Well-Being Committee is excited to share a new opportunity for lawyers, judges, and law students to learn and develop skills related to well-being through the LCL Path to Lawyer Well-Being Group. This group will meet on Monday mornings for 10 weeks beginning on October 7 from 8:45am-10:00am at the MSBA Office. Participants can attend any or all of the meetings as schedules allow, and will be asked to commit to confidentiality. Topics include: Reframe Stress & Adversity; Grow Your Gratitude; Psychological Capital; Maintaining Your Momentum; and more. Click here for more information!

HCBA Clubs – HCBA offers a variety of clubs that promote attorney wellness with upcoming events including Yoga, Running, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Hockey, Movies, Photography, etc. (Click Here for more information)

5K, 10K, Half Marathons, Full Marathons (for a full list of MN events, Click Here)

  • September 21, 2019 – Applefest Scenic 5K, La Crescent  (Click Here)
  • September 21, 2019 – Ely Marathon (5K, half and full), Ely  (Click Here)
  • September 21, 2019 – Never Give Up 5K, Wadena  (Click Here)
  • September 28, 2019 – Hoof N’ Woof 5K, Roseville  (Click Here)
  • September 28, 2019 –  Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying, Bloomington (Click Here)
  • September 28, 2019 – Plymouth Firefighter 5K, Plymouth  (Click Here)
  • October 5, 2019 – Brains Together For A Cure 5K, Rochester (Click Here)
  • October 5, 2019 –  Medtronic TC 5K/10K, Minneapolis  (Click Here)
  • October 12, 2019 –  Autumn Woods Classic 10K and 5K, Maple Grove  (Click Here)
  • October 12, 2019 – Big Woods Run Half Marathon, 10K, 5K Nerstrand  (Click Here)
  • October 19, 2019 – Bluff Color Fest Trail Run (20M, 15M, 10M, 5M, 5K), Red Wing  (Click Here)
  • October 19, 2019 –  Hot Cider Hustle Half Marathon, 5K, Bloomington  (Click Here)
  • October 26, 2019 – Frightening 5K, Northfield (Click Here)
  • October 26, 2019 –  Monster Dash Half Marathon, 10M, 5K, St. Paul (Click Here)
  • November 2, 2019 –  Chocoholic Frolic 10K, 5K, St. Paul  (Click Here)
  • November 2, 2019 –  Jingle Bell Run 5K, 1K, St. Paul (Click Here)
  • November 10, 2019 – Girls on the Run 5K, St. Paul  (Click Here)
  • November 10, 2019 –  Veterans Day USA - Honoring Military Service 5K, St. Paul  (Click Here)
  • November 28, 2019 –  Gobble Wobble 5K & Mashed Potato Mile, Marshall (Click Here)
  • November 28, 2019 –  Apple Valley Turkey Trot 5K, Apple Valley (Click Here)
  • November 28, 2019 –  Chanhassen Turkey Trot, Chanhassen (Click Here)
  • November 30, 2019 –  Moustache Run Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, Minneapolis (Click Here)
  • December 1, 2019 – Minnesota Indoor Marathon (full, half, 10K, 5K), St. Michael (Click Here)
  • December 7, 2019 –  Jingle Bell Run 5K, 1M, Duluth  (Click Here)
  • December 7, 2019 –  Snowflake Shuffle 5K, St. Joseph  (Click Here)
  • December 8, 2019 –  UGLY Sweater Dash 5K, St. Louis Park  (Click Here)
  • December 14, 2019 –  Northfield Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5K, 2K, Northfield (Click Here)
  • December 14, 2019 – Reindeer Run 5K, Minneapolis  (Click Here)
  • December 31, 2019 – Resolution Run 5K, Rochester  (Click Here)
  • December 31, 2019 –  Resolution Run 5K, Maple Grove  (Click Here)

Twin Cities Literary Calendar
Interested in attending a poetry reading, lecture/panel discussion of works by local authors, or joining a book club? Click here to see the upcoming events around the Twin Cities!

Twin Cities Arts & Culture Event Calendar
Looking to attend an event at an art gallery, a performance at a local theater, or live music performances? Click here for a list of events happening around the Twin Cities!

Other Fun Ideas
Other great ways to take a break from the office and reboot are taking cooking classes, art/craft classes, attending an open mic night at a comedy club or a local coffee shop, and volunteering at an animal shelter. There are lots of opportunities readily available by doing a quick internet search in your area. If you’re looking for other ideas, feel free to email one of the committee co-chairs and we’d be happy to brainstorm!



Well-Being On Demand CLEs



ABA Well-Being Initiative

  • The ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession was created in September 2017 to examine and make recommendations regarding the current state of attorney mental health and substance use issues with an emphasis on helping legal employers support healthy work environments. Its focus is on helping legal employers support healthy work environments, which are critical for lawyer wellness. Research shows that if workplace cultures support well-being, lawyers will be better able to make good choices that allow them to thrive and be their best for clients, colleagues, and work organizations. 

     

    A key resource they have developed is the ABA Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers, which offers tools and practical guidance for legal employers who want to join the lawyer well-being movement by launching organizational initiative.

     

    Also available is the Well-Being Toolkit Nutshell: 80 Tips for Lawyer Thriving, summarizing 80 of the Toolkit’s key items to help legal employers get started on a lawyer well-being initiative.

     

  • The ABA’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change builds upon the findings of 2016 ABA CoLAP/Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s study on lawyer impairment and the 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being. With this Report and its Recommendations, the Task Force seeks to create a movement towards improving the health and wellbeing of the legal profession.

The 44 recommendations contained within the Report are directed to various legal stakeholders such as judges, regulators, law firms, law schools, bar associations, professional liability carriers and lawyer assistance programs, all in an effort to change the culture and discussion surrounding attorney wellbeing.



Monthly Well-Being Tips

  • September 2019: Be Kind to Yourself! Lawyers are notorious for being perfectionists and oftentimes setting unrealistic standards for themselves and others. Don’t get me wrong – it’s good to have high standards, but problems arise when we hold ourselves to unattainable ones and then punish ourselves when mistakes/hiccups occur. The thing is, mistakes are going to happen. We are all extremely busy, clients and colleagues can be demanding, and it’s impossible to give 100% of yourself every minute of the day both personally and professionally. Also, NOBODY IS PERFECT! In a profession that requires others to judge and critique our work, there will always be times where someone is not pleased. Lawyers are often hard on themselves when this happens, and we tend to take things personally because, among other things, our profession is heavily dependent on our reputation and skill. Rather than stress and dwell on those situations, stop and take a minute to be kind to yourself. Remember that you are human and mistakes will happen. We got into this profession because we are smart, hardworking, and passionate. Stop demanding perfection of yourself and being disappointed when you don’t achieve it. Focus instead on the good and what you can learn for next time.

  • August 2019: Stretch it out! We all know stretching is good for us. We stretch when we wake up in the morning, before workouts, and when we’re so exhausted that our muscles are screaming at us to do it. This month, focus on stretching as a way to manage stress during the workday (and for stressors away from work, too!). The most common places we hold tension and stress are in our backs, shoulders, necks, pectoral muscles (especially men), and our jaws. Figure out where you hold the most tension in your body and use that to your advantage for managing stressful moments. On a personal note, I (Patty) recently realized that I hold the majority of my tension in my jaw. So when I’m in the middle of a frustrating task at work or stuck in the inevitable traffic backups that plague our great metro area, I take a minute to move my jaw from side to side to ease my stress. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference because I can literally feel the physical stress going away when I do it. With that, the mental stress starts to go away, too (it doesn’t totally go away, but it’s a start). So when you’re in a moment of stress, take a minute and stretch it out!

  • July 2019: Breathe! We’ve all had that moment where we received an email, letter, or phone call that just made our blood boil. Whether from an opposing attorney or demanding client or colleague, those moments are stressful! It can be even worse if we’re away from the office enjoying personal time and happen to check our messages “just in case there’s an emergency” (another reason to turn off notifications when enjoying personal time).  While we can’t control how someone else chooses to correspond with us, we can control how we choose to process and react to the situation. Often times, the immediate desire may be to shoot off an equally fiery response or to spend time venting about the situation to a colleague or friend to alleviate the stress. A better way to manage your stress is to stop and breathe…literally. Shut your eyes, physically turn away from your device, and inhale for four counts through your nose and then exhale four counts out through your mouth. Repeat this exercise a few times. While it may not immediately cure all thoughts of frustration coursing through your mind, focusing on your breathing will calm your heart rate and allow you to control your physical reaction to the situation, which itself can be empowering when a lack of control is often a contributing factor to stress.

  • June 2019: Set Boundaries! The competition for our time between work and personal is constant, and it is difficult to be fully present for either without boundaries. For example, it is difficult to pay attention at dinner with family/friends if you are constantly checking your phone for work emails (especially if email is linked to your wrist watch). Similarly, it is difficult to focus on work while thinking about a personal issue. Learning to set boundaries is hard, especially when lawyers feel compelled to excel in all areas of our lives and feel we can/must do it all. We can’t. Nobody can! Something is going to give, either with a misstep at work or in your personal life (neither desirable!). So, when you’re away from the office, disable email notifications. You can still check email if you want, but it will be a conscious decision to step away from personal and back to work. Likewise, if you need to spend time thinking about a personal issue while at work (it happens), take a break and give that your full attention rather than forcing yourself to write the brief or do the analysis when you know you’re distracted (FYI- distraction can lead to malpractice!).

  • May 2019: Find Your 10 Minutes! A lawyer recently shared that the best ten minutes of his day are when he and his daughter spend time together each morning before leaving for school and work. Another lawyer said it’s the cup of tea she shares with her husband in the evening after putting their son to bed, while another said it’s the peaceful morning coffee she enjoys outside on her deck before anyone else in her house wakes up. For others it is their daily workout, reading a novel on their commute to work, or spending quality time with their pets. It’s easy to find time for ourselves when work schedules aren’t busy. But when work takes over, moments like these become luxuries that take a back seat until time slows down. Allowing that to happen can lead to feelings of resentment and feeling like we have no control over our schedules, which can be stressful. The best way to combat this is to 1) identify the best ten minutes of your day, and 2) always find them each day regardless of how busy you are. Doing so will not only boost your mood by giving you something to look forward to each day, but it will also reduce your stress by keeping yourself in control of your schedule! 

  • March 2019: Do Something New! It’s no secret – lawyers are busy people! We have lots to juggle each day between family and work commitments, and we often get into routines to help manage those responsibilities. Then the weekends come and if we’re lucky, we’ll accomplish additional tasks that “need” to get done (i.e., grocery shopping, dry cleaning, house chores, etc.). This month focus on spending your weekends doing things you “want” to do and try doing something new to shake things up! For example, sign up for a cooking class, spend an afternoon at a museum/art gallery, go rock climbing, take a yoga/fitness class, or attend a local food festival or concert. Volunteering is always a great way to do something new and feel great while doing it – check out your county’s website for local volunteer opportunities. You can also find more ideas on our Life & Law website! Find something new, get excited, and then block off the time on your calendar to do it (we’re more likely to do it once we feel a commitment to it).

  • February 2019: “Fruit Snacks!” Many experts say that snacks are just as important to maintaining a healthy diet as regular meals, especially for avoiding ravenous hunger that comes from skipping meals/allowing too much time between them. Studies show that when we become ravenously hungry (i.e., after a long day of work), we tend to consume more calories at our next meal than we need to. This can lead to a variety of challenges for professionals with busy schedules. One solution is to have a piece of fruit on your desk at all times. Whether it be an apple, banana, or a container of blueberries, having a healthy snack readily available will not only give you the obvious nutritional benefits, but will limit the urge to grab less healthy snacks during inevitable coffee breaks (I’m talking to you, Cake Pops). Snacking on fruit will also give your body the energy boost it needs to carry you through until your next meal so that you avoid the consequences of ravenous hunger. Lastly, my apologies to those disappointed that this was not a post about delicious kids fruit snacks. The good news is moderation is key, so when you crave the kids fruit snack (or Cake Pop), get after it! Just keep the real fruit nearby.

  • December 2018: ♫ Twist and Shout! ♫  Lawyers and legal professionals are notorious for working many consecutive hours each day despite expert advice recommending short breaks every 45 minutes. Studies show that frequent breaks increase productivity because they allow us to regularly recharge and avoid becoming fatigued. Regardless, many of us tend to only take breaks when it feels appropriate to do so (i.e., when we are extremely fatigued, hungry/thirsty, have an appointment, etc.). Rather than sitting and working for several hours followed by a 20-minute break, try setting a reminder every 45 minutes to give yourself a 5-minute “Twist and Shout” break. Okay, don’t actually shout, but do turn on some music and listen to one song while you stand up and take a few minutes to stretch. The average song length is between 3-5 minutes, so when the song ends, get back to work! Short breaks will allow you to refresh yourself without losing momentum on a project while also getting a few minutes of physical activity to curb the health risks of prolonged periods of sitting. (Pro Tip: team up with a co-worker so that you have someone to hold you accountable for taking breaks!)

  • November 2018: “Planning!” With the temperature dropping and snow on the ground, many Minnesotans are already thinking about hopping a plane to warmer climates (at least I am). The shortened days of the winter months can be tough on many attorneys and legal professionals who work long hours requiring them to arrive at work before sunrise and leave after sunset. One way to beat the winter blues is to get out your calendar and start planning! Make plans to take a vacation, attend a unique event, have a day of relaxation at the spa, etc. It does not matter what it is as long as it is something you can look forward to. Studies show that the excitement and anticipation of an event is just as important to elevating your mood as attending the event itself. Additionally, there is a positive correlation between the length of time an event is planned for and the length of time the excitement and relaxation last afterwards. Start by planning one event each month for the next three months as this will help create “good vibes” and reduce stress during a time of year that can be extremely busy both personally and professionally.

  • October 2018: Eating healthy is a struggle for many professionals, and can be especially stressful for attorneys with demanding schedules. We often hear about “meal planning” as a solution, which sounds great in theory, but is extremely challenging if you don’t know how to set yourself up for success. The key is to start small. Rather than planning three meals per day for one week (15 meals plus snacks is a lot to plan/shop for!), start small by picking one category meal and plan it for three days for one week (ideally M, W,F). Then do it again the following week, and the next week, and slowly work up to five days per week with one meal. Once you’ve mastered planning for one meal, add in another meal category. Follow this schedule for a few weeks until you work up to consistently planning all three meals. Eventually meal planning will feel like a natural habit rather than an unattainable goal. For more info, click here for an article on meal planning 101.  

  • September 2018: Don’t have time for the gym? Here is an article on five quick exercises you can do in your office throughout the day!

  • August 2018: Most to-do lists are way too long, which leads to overwork and stress when it doesn’t all get done. Instead, assume you can only get one big thing, three medium things, and five small things done a day (fewer if you have a lot of meetings).

  • June 2018: Take short, frequent breaks throughout the workday. We have all had the experience where we are so focused on completing a project that we only take a break when we are so mentally fatigued that the break is necessary (sometimes after hours in a stretch). While it’s important to take breaks when needed, consider taking shorter breaks at more frequent intervals (every 45-60 minutes) even if you don’t feel fatigued. The breaks can be as short as 3-5 minutes so that you can easily jump back into a project without losing momentum. This will allow you to maintain a fresh and rejuvenated state of mind throughout the day, and will help with overall productivity because you’ll beat the mental fatigue before it sets in.

  • March 2018: For one week, keep a notepad on your bedside table and each day (either first thing in the morning or right before bed) write down three things you are grateful for in your life. They can be about anything you’d like -- personal, professional, specific to that day or throughout your life. The point is that many people spend more time thinking about the negative parts of their day than the positive ones, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in our day-to-day lives. If you act purposefully and take a few minutes each day to write down a few things you are grateful for, it will guarantee either a positive start or finish to each day. Do this for one week, and if you liked the experience, do it again!

  • January 2018: Start each day with 15-30 minutes of “ME TIME”! We always seem to say that we’ll work out, eat right, and make time for ourselves “later” or “tomorrow.” Studies show that our willpower to make healthy choices is strongest in the morning and decreases as the day goes on and fatigue sets in! Although it’s hard to imagine getting up earlier than we already do, setting the alarm clock 15-30 minutes earlier will guarantee that you have a chance to focus on yourself at a time of day that is devoid of interruption. The key to lasting change is starting in small increments. For example, if you start a new workout routine with 15-30 minutes of daily exercise, you are far more likely to maintain that workout schedule and build into longer workouts than if you jump right to a 60-minute intense workout program. Change requires training yourself to be familiar with the “new” so that it eventually becomes “the norm.”

  • October 2017: During the next four weeks, pick one day each week where you spend 15-30 minutes during the workday away from your computer and email (includes cell phone). For example, go for an afternoon walk through downtown (or wherever your office is), eat lunch away from your desk at a restaurant or on a park bench, go get coffee somewhere besides your usual spot, etc. Training yourself that it is “okay” to step away and have a few minutes to yourself at least once per week will allow you to get more comfortable finding additional time each week that is truly “yours.” Personal time will also help you feel refreshed so that when you return to your desk, you will be more focused and better equipped to serve your clients.

  • September 2017: Managing the daily barrage of emails is one of the most challenging aspects of practicing law. Oftentimes we are so concerned with missing an important email that we have our email settings designed to grab our attention immediately upon receiving a new email, regardless of who it is from or how important it is. This often includes an audible “ding” that you can hear, along with a small window that pops up in the corner of your screen that shows just enough information for you to decide whether to open the full message. The problem is that we get emails so frequently that it’s nearly impossible to complete even the smallest of tasks without interruption, and it has the effect of someone knocking at your office door every two minutes (or however frequently you receive emails). To minimize email disruptions, utilize the email feature that disables the audible “ding” and the pop up window. You will still be able to check your email at regular intervals when you decide that you have time to do so, but you will not be constantly bombarded with email notifications. This will help eliminate the stress and anxiety that comes with feeling incapable of managing constant emails, and will allow you uninterrupted time to focus on accomplishing the task at hand. Try utilizing this feature for one week, and if you like it, stick with it!

 
Want to get involved in our committee? Please contact us or just come to our next meeting!


Co-Chairs

Chase Anderson 
Patty Beck

Staff Liaison
Steve Marchese
612-278-6308