Professional Competence Is Impacted By Pressure, And Lawyer Wellbeing Impacts One's Response To Pressure
Since retiring from the practice of law, I've gained a certain perspective, and perhaps the most important thing I've realized (duh) is that lawyers deal with a lot of pressure-- almost every minute of every day. And over time, that pressure takes a toll-- which is why lawyer wellbeing has become more widely recognized and more widely prized.
That's not to say that the toll of pressure needs to be broadly demonized-- plenty of studies have corroborated the fact that some amount of pressure can actually improve our focus and improve performance. But that's not the case for the vast majority of lawyers, and in my view, the legal profession needs a bit of an attitude adjustment. Seriously, it'd be good for the women and men who serve the profession, and it would be good for the profession itself-- it would also be a boon for clients.
Competence is Rule number one in the rules of professional conduct that govern lawyers is pretty much every State. Ironically, however, there is little that States (or private institutions operating within the legal profession) do, to help or even encourage lawyers to address the demand that they scrupulously endeavor to maintain professional competence. Very little-- almost nothing. That's a Shonda-- a shame. The legal profession (and law firms, in particular) could-- and should-- acknowledge the corrosive effect of daily pressures unique to the practice of law and adopt new policies that serve the interests of their staff and professionals, by addressing the pervasive concern of pressure through in-house wellbeing initiatives that are thoughtfully designed to help individuals responsibly address their own unique pressures.
It's really not all that complicated-- people who are well function more effectively under pressure than people who are not well. And prioritizing the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, will increase wellbeing (as well as competence) among the men and women who make a law firm tick.
Emphasis on the importance of professional competence is manifested by an emphasis on the importance of wellbeing and the last time I checked, those were both good things of which a law firm could be proud.