Many lawyers are overwhelmed by difficulty working from home, and difficulty caring for their families and their practice at the same time. We hope you stay safe, and ask for help if you need it!
I, too, recently shifted my practice to 100 percent remote, in light of the governor’s orders, and easily relate to the same stressors and advantages my clients are dealing with.
A Law360 article on combatting isolation and increasing productivity while working from home, “Virus Poses Latest Test to Supporting Attys’ Mental Health,” notes that “the current environment, in which stress and anxiety are running high and many lawyers are physically isolated while working from home, stands to exacerbate the attorney mental health crisis if preventative measures are not taken.” Additionally, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review even makes the case that the way we feel about the current pandemic is not unlike going through the states of grief.
Our days have a completely new schedule. I have spoken to attorneys who are lounging too much and not getting their work done, and then I have spoken to those who are trying too hard to prove they are connected and committed. It’s harder to compartmentalize work and personal life when they are one room apart. I would encourage WSBA members to maintain a standard start time, lunch time, and break time to walk around the block, and setting a time to read news once or twice a day, rather than all day, can make a big difference in your overall well-being under these new circumstances.
As temporary as this will be to curb the spread of coronavirus, it’s not uncommon to hear that working from home may be a wave of the future so it makes sense to get ahead of this transition. Looking ahead, lawyers may begin providing virtual consults with clients, either from their offices or from home, much more often.
On a positive note: no one misses commuting. Many of us now have one to two extra hours in our days. But it is important to use this time effectively. That means going to bed and waking up at normal times, getting a healthy slice of work done at a reasonable hour, and then using this additional time to pursue a self-care goal. Based on my conversations with WSBA members, the most common self-care goals are exercise, cooking, and social connection.
It’s also wise to treat yourself a little with focused purchases to make yourself more comfortable:
- Adjusting lighting and your setup for video calls can make you both feel and look more professional;
- A stationary bike or rowing machine can offer some deeply needed relief without the nuisance of packing a gym bag;
- A mesh Wi-Fi system, which uses modules spread throughout the home to expand your signal, or faster broadband can give you more consistent connections and improve your online experiences.
Short-term improvements can have outsized benefits, but remember that this is not a time for long-term goals. The clients I speak to who are looking to make major changes in their career, or where they live, or whom they are dating, are just frustrated. This is a time to enjoy the things you have and allowing those things to be enough.
If you need more and would like to seek additional help—which I, of course, encourage everyone to do—here are some of the free resources available to all WSBA members.
Free WSBA Wellness Resources
- In the April Legal Lunchbox, “Trauma, Burnout and Self-Care—A Way Through,” learn about trauma informed legal advocacy and how to work with traumatized clients while taking care of yourself in the process. Addresses key symptoms like compassion fatigue and burnout;
- Our new WSBA Member Wellness Program YouTube Page features over a dozen high-quality presentations on topics from self-care to job seeking to retirement;
- The Unbar Alcoholics Anonymous group for legal professionals has moved online. Meetings occur Wednesdays from 12:15-1:30 p.m. through April 29, and possibly beyond that timeframe. For more information on how to join, contact the Member Wellness Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-727-8267. There is also the Judicial Assistance Service Program – contact our clinical consultant, Dr. Susanna N. Kanther, at 415-572-3803;
- WSBA Connects free online counseling. Our free counseling benefit for all WSBA members is now available to you online. You can connect with a licensed clinician by calling 800-765-0770. You will be set up with a counselor who can engage with you virtually.