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Secrets of a happy lawyer

5 ways to shift your mindset at work

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Published 14/02/2021

Published 14/02/2021

As a legal professional, chances are you enjoy the rush of motivation that the good kind of stress can give. You find it exhilarating to take on seemingly impossible cases, play in high-stake arenas and race against the clock.

However, there’s no denying that these working conditions take their toll over time. And if you’re finding yourself constantly tense and anxious, having trouble sleeping or often physically unwell, you may have gone right past ‘motivated’ – into ‘overwhelmed.’

The good news is that there are strategies and resources that can help you enjoy the highs of the legal profession while weathering the lows. More than this, with the right tools, you can be a positive force for change in your workplace.

Let’s look at five ways you can shift your mindset – to build your resilience and wellbeing.

1. Connect with others

The legal profession is very relationship-based. But it’s not just about talking shop. In a similar vein to R U OK Day, it’s important to check in with your colleagues regularly.

Also, aim to build strong practices for regular feedback – and encourage trust and respect in the workplace. For example:

  • Remember to hold sensitive conversations in private
  • Set the standard for inclusive behaviour in your actions towards others
  • Thank and praise your co-workers when they’re doing a great job, even if it’s just for something small

You can also work on your relationships with colleagues outside the office. You might develop staff interest groups such as a book club or sports team – or even just make time for a regular meal together.

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Upcoming CPD programs to help you strengthen your workplace relationships

Step in, speak up – how to deal with unacceptable workplace behaviour (2 CPD units)
This program will teach you strategies to create a safe, healthy work environment where you and colleagues can grow and develop.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021 (11am-1pm)

How to build resilient and focused teams (2 CPD units)
Learn strategies to help your team better face significant and ongoing stress, for stronger individuals and a more focused cohort.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021 (11am-1pm)

Strategies for managing multi-generational teams (2 CPD units)
This program focuses on helping your team manage expectations, motivations and conflicts – and draw on individuals’ different strengths to build a better workplace.

Friday, 4 August 2021 (11am-1pm)

How to manage yourself and others during conflict (1.5 CPD units)
Learn the fundamental skills for communicating assertively but professionally so that you can have those crucial conversations.

Thursday, 17 June 2021 (11am-1.30pm)

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2. Make small changes – for a more active, healthier lifestyle

A healthy diet, moderate exercise and good sleep habits are key to your wellbeing.

But that’s easier said than done. Legal professionals lead busy lives, which can make it difficult to commit to that regular yoga class or gym session.

Still, there are small, simple strategies you can try to stay healthy and improve your overall wellbeing:

  • Make it a group effort: Staying active really is so much easier when you’re with others. An office sports team – or even a lunchtime walking club – can give you the encouragement you need.
  • Adjust your daily routine: Jump off the bus one stop early for a little extra walking time. Start taking the stairs instead of the lift. You’ve likely heard this advice before, but simple changes really can make a difference.
  • Try the at-home approach: If the gym is not your cup of tea, trial some online resources to stay active. There are plenty of workout apps and free workout videos online. And if you’re working from home, try challenging yourself to 10 stretches (or even push-ups) between meetings.
  • Get good rest: Set yourself a regular bedtime and put away your devices long before sleep.
  • Take time out: Lawyers are, by nature, very driven people, but it’s important to give yourself permission to switch off and take time out, just for you.

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Upcoming CPD program to help you improve your WFH routine

Strategies for staying healthy and productive when working at home (1 CPD unit)

Following a year of disruption and challenges, this program will help you work to the best of your ability as you adapt to your new routine – and shake up those old habits!

Thursday, 13 May 2021 (12pm-1pm)

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3. Practice mindfulness

The term ‘mindfulness’ is thrown about so frequently that you would be forgiven for thinking it a fad. But many legal professionals are quickly realising it’s a useful technique for building resilience and wellbeing.

Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. It’s about paying active attention to the present and using skills in self-reflection.

In the guide Being Well in the Law, Colin James (from the Australian National University College of Law) highlights mindfulness as an essential technique for legal professionals.

He says that, as a lawyer, you might be quick to see things that happen to you as binaries – either good or bad, right or wrong, helpful or dangerous. These judgements can make it difficult for you to accept what’s happened and may lead to you dwelling negatively on the past.

But with some mindful practices in your armoury, you’ll be better able to pause, reflect and decide if further action is needed. It will also allow you to accept what you can’t change – and move on more quickly.

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Upcoming CPD programs to help you stay focused in the present – and recognise your stress triggers.

Mindfulness techniques for legal professionals (1 CPD unit)

Learn how to stay attuned and derive more satisfaction in your day-to-day life.

Friday, 16 July 2021 (11am-1pm)

The neuroscience of resilience for lawyers (2 CPD units)

This program will teach you how to recognise and cope with the pressures of legal practice and apply practical tools for a happier, healthier balance.

Friday, 26 March 2021 (11am-1pm)

Understanding emotional intelligence and unconscious bias (2 CPD units)

Discover how emotional awareness can guide your thinking and help you respond effectively for better relationships and self-management.

Wednesay, 6 October 2021 (11am-1pm)


4. Keep learning and challenge yourself (in positive ways)

According to Legal First Aid Trainer, lawyers have a ‘future focused dominant temporal perspective’.

This is a scientific way of explaining that they are always looking forward – thinking about what they need to do now to be happy in future.

So if you ever find yourself feeling listless or in a rut, it could be time to immerse yourself in a new activity that will lead to a sense of purpose and achievement. Something that will allow you to learn and grow. Something outside your comfort zone.

To avoid stagnating, set regular goals and challenges for yourself. Work-related growth (such as CPD programs) are an excellent way to foster your social networks and develop your skills in an area of interest.

5. Learn how to ask for help

If stress or anxiety is negatively impacting your ability to enjoy life, it’s important to seek support.

But acknowledging and accepting this reality is not easy for anyone – especially not high-achieving lawyers, who tend to be perfectionists by nature.

So, as a starting point, consider confiding in a trusted colleague, friend or family member. Otherwise, you can make an appointment with your GP, call a helpline such as Beyond Blue or visit the Head to Health website for more resources.