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Lawyer Well-Being: A New Component of Leadership Training?

I was wrong. And James Earl Jones' character was right.

If you build it, they will come-- he was, of course, talking about building a baseball field, and I'm talking about lawyer well-being, but the analogy still holds. I mistakenly thought the "you" was me, and I was clearly wrong-- the "you" is our law firm leaders.

Apparently, though, our leaders could use a little help. That's when it dawned on me that perhaps the concept of lawyer well-being-- and the wisdom of creating a culture that supports such a concept -- should become part of whatever training they might undertake, before assuming the mantle of law firm leader.

Championing the cause of lawyer well-being, choosing a team to design an initiative that's consistent with firm culture, creating a corresponding policy and budget-- all the things that need to be planned and accounted for-- are the stuff that leadership training is all about. And lawyer well-being needs to be part of the why/where/when/how and who of running the shop.

If I were part of the team, I would most certainly advocate for the inclusion of mindfulness and meditation, as components of a balanced well-being initiative. The two, I believe, are important elements that enable and encourage lawyers to exercise the mind, in addition to other disciplines that might encourage us to exercise the body. Both the mind and body need to be addressed, as components of lawyer well-being.

I understand the wisdom of the adage that teaches, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink". The same is certainly true of well-being-- neither I, nor any reasonable law firm, would ever require that anyone "drink", but building a culture that permits individual choices and makes available tools, or programs, that encourage choice-- that's where true leadership displays itself.

It all begins at the top. Let's help the women and men who are asked to lead our law firms, by affording them meaningful training. And, as part of that training, let's educate them about the growing importance of well-being-- both for professionals and for staff-- in the performance of law firms, both now and in the future,

Well-being should be part of the curriculum for law firm leadership training programs. Those programs are supposed to serve us-- let's make certain they do!


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