The Mindfulness Blog

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A Change Is Gonna Come

In May of 2012, Charles Halpern authored an article entitled: "The Mindful Lawyer: Why Contemporary Lawyers Are Practicing Meditation"-- that was 2 years after the UC Berkeley School of Law hosted the first Mindful Lawyer conference.

Almost 10 years before that, Halpern (along with others like Len Riskin, who I worked with a couple years ago, here in Chicago) established the Center for Contemplative Mind Society in New York City, while dean of the CUNY law school.

Going on 25 years later, the legal profession has yet to embrace the wisdom of those efforts, even though faced with a crisis that has led to a growing threat to lawyer wellbeing. Sure, there are a handful of wonderful private organizations that continue the work initiated by Charles Halpern and his like-minded friends, but those organizations are few and far between.

Lawyers are notoriously slow adopters, but seriously? One would think that the wellbeing of the profession (and the wealth of empirical evidence supporting that concern) might spur interest and motivate law firms to do something more than pledge to address the situation. So far, however, virtue signaling and well-crafted gestures have carried the day for the vast majority of firms and other institutions associated with the legal profession.

In 1964, Sam Cooke recorded the powerful song referenced in the title of this piece-- 100 years after the Civil War (here in the States), and more than 250 years after slavery was introduced in North America. Understood in that context, I guess 30 years isn't all that long. and yet.... We're now living, after all, in the 21st century and some things have actually changed-- mostly, for the better.

We should all credit the good people who are trying to address the crisis of lawyer wellbeing, but more than simply crediting them, we should also help them do something to make sure that the past 30 years don't morph into 100 or 250 years.

It's time to get off the lawyer wellbeing pot!


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