Last week I gave a talk before the Attorney Breakfast Club (ABC) on Mindfulness and the Practice of Law. Mindfulness has been around since the 1970’s and it has roots in Buddhism and meditation. The University of Miami and Berkley both have programs at their law schools. What this means for an existing practitioner is that they need to be aware of the concept as it becomes mainstream and not just limited to alternative dispute resolution. For more information on the University of Miami School of Law program on Mindfulness go to mindfulnessinlawclass.com.
The term Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations without judging whether they are right or wrong. While most attorneys in the group were not familiar with the term Mindfulness some were already employing meditation and relaxation practices to help them stay focused.
Our conversation was animated and centered on what Mindfulness can do to enhance the practice of law.
1) Less stress means more success: Our minds process thousands of thoughts per day and have a habitual tendency to make up stories about what’s happening to us. Thoughts like, “he’s trying to make me look bad,” or “she’s trying to run up her fees” that run like a broken record. We experience stress when our thoughts ruminate on the past or anticipate the future. The Mindful lawyer develops a keen sense of awareness, becomes an expert at reading people and responding to others in an appropriate way. By learning to apply and process the information that we are being given at that moment in a detached way we naturally experience less stress.
2) Brilliant solutions: As we learn to catch our thought patterns and the emotions that are attached to them we create room in our mind for new ideas. The attorney that has a clear mind is able to come up with creative solutions in the application of legal theories and especially in creative negotiations.
3)Happy Clients are referring clients: Being involved in a legal proceeding is stressful for our clients. It is probably the most life altering experience that a person will go through. Human beings long to be understood. Sometimes being understood is all that a client needs in order to let go of a position or to stop calling at inappropriate times of the day when they are feeling stressed. The Mindful lawyer learns the art of compassion and is better able to guide the client through the legal process.
Coaching is used to teach attorneys, CEO’s, business owners or anyone wanting to experience less stress and more success in their professional and personal lives.