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Lawyer Wellness: Introduction

Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are common in both the legal profession and in law school. The goal of this guide is to provide resources to cope with or reduce stress and tensions weighing on law students.

Lawyer Wellness Guide

Introduction to the Guide

Law school is exciting, rewarding, and advantageous, but it can also be stressful. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are common in both the legal profession and in law school. Acknowledging this fact is a first step to managing one's well-being, and this guide provides resources with strategies for self-care, information to reach out for help, and content on stress-reduction techniques. The goal of this guide is to provide resources and paths to reduce academic and financial stress, as well as tensions in personal life, all of which weigh on law students. 

Recently, lawyers, law professionals, and law schools have recognized a need to make lawyering a more sustainable and mental health-focused practice. Mindfulness has been identified as one of the key areas of creating this sustainability, alongside healthy work-life balance, diet, exercise, and getting proper sleep. While the overwhelming demands of law school seem to beg for increased engagement with school materials, taking healthy breaks and developing self-care routines can enhance overall functioning and lead to a more tenable experience in law school and beyond. 

Stress and potential burnout are real. Maintaining connection with friends, family, coworkers, faculty, mental health professionals, and/or spiritual guides are all crucial for continuing to maintain self-care. Lawyers recognize how important reducing social isolation can be for a sustainable practice, and some simple and fun ways to do this are outlined in this guide. Isolation is also one of the key detriments to managing a mental health diagnosis like addiction, anxiety, or depression. Many students further identify the financial burdens of school as an impairment to emotional health. Introductory resources for working towards financial well-being are also included.

 

Getting Started

Howard University and D.C.-Area Resources

  • D.C. Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)
    • “A free, confidential program for D.C. Bar members, judges, and District law students who are experiencing problems, such as addiction, mental health symptoms, or stress, which interfere with their personal or professional lives”
    • For law students, the LAP provides chat, phone, or in-person counseling sessions as well as face-to-face mentoring from attorneys who’ve been in your shoes. All D.C.-area law students have access to LAP services.
    • To speak to an LAP counselor, call the confidential line at 202-347-3131 or e-mail lap@dcbar.org.

Books on Wellness and Satisfaction in Law School

Podcasts on Wellness and Satisfaction in Law School

  • The Happy Lawyer Project Podcast hosted by Okeoma Moronu Schreiner: "Turns out there are actually people with law degrees who live happy, fulfilled lives. I know, who knew?!? Well, I’m on a mission to find them and share their stories so you can learn from their experiences and start building the life of your dreams."
  • The Resiliant Lawyer Podcast: Jeena Cho, author of the book The Anxious Lawyer, created this podcast to share "practical and actionable information you can use to be a better lawyer." It focuses on finding a more joyful, balanced approach to the legal profession.

Author Credits

Victoria Capatosto oversees the development of this guide with assistance from LIS graduate student interns working at HUSL Library. 

  • During the Fall 2019 semester Claire Eldredge-Burns, HUSL Library’s remote public services LIS graduate student intern, completed extensive research into HUSL Library’s collection and wrote a proposal for this guide, including an information architecture outline and resource acquisition suggestions.  
  • During the Summer 2020 semester Ian Reinl, HUSL Library's remote public services LIS graduate student intern, implemented Claire's proposal, conducted additional research and resource evaluation, wrote introductory notes, and created a new section on Connection and Spirituality.

If you're interested in learning more, our Continuity of Library Services guide contain sections on (1) coping with stress, (2) prioritizing self-care, and (3) adjusting to change.

© Howard University School of Law Library.  Questions about this guide should be directed to reference@law.howard.edu.

 

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