The Mindfulness Blog

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What Business Is My Personal Well-Being To [Name of Legal System, Law Firm Or Bar Association]?

About three years ago, I started a new committee--with the generous support of the Chicago Bar Association ("CBA")--to explore the intersection of mindfulness and meditation, on the one hand, and the practice of law, on the other. The committee was (and still is) named the Mindfulness and the Law committee.

Although not necessarily apparent, the purpose of the committee (at least, as I conceived it) was to get into the weeds, examining practices that could bear upon the mental and emotional welfare of lawyers. Kudos to the CBA for getting out in front of the issue--they were ahead of the American Bar Association, which has since brought tremendous energy to the more broadly described issue of lawyer well-being--of which mindfulness and meditation are important components.

Enough background--now to the point. One of the mindfulness committee's charter members approached me early on, after one of our monthly meetings, and asked (rhetorically): "What business is it of the bar association if I have a meditation practice, and why do we have a committee that concerns itself with my personal practices or beliefs? My minister can ask. My doctor can ask, But what business is it of my bar association?".

I don't recall my response, but thank goodness, I knew he was "one of us" and his heart was in the right place. Intuitively, I understood that there was a larger concern contained in his question--I just had to figure out what that larger concern was.

Taken literally, the question might have easily lead to the conclusion that an organization ought not concern itself with the personal proclivities of its individual members, Taken rhetorically, however, the question led me in a different direction, altogether. Lawyer well-being is critical to the future of the legal profession, and if one accepts that basic premise, then one can see very clearly why the notion of well-being has become a concern for our law schools, law firms, bar associations, legal departments and court system.

I'm not a fan of the word because it gets overused a lot, but the issue of well-being is really "existential" to our profession. It's existential to us, individually, and therefore, it is existential to our institutions. If we don't take care of ourselves, who will? If we don't make well-being a priority for ourselves, who will?

In response to the question posed in the title to this blog, I would respectfully suggest an answer--an answer that is now easy to see, but only came to me after a lot of thought: Lawyer well-being is the business of everyone in the legal profession. All of us!


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