MINDFULNESS FOR LEGAL PROFESSIONALS, PART I

What is mindfulness meditation?

It’s actually quite simple—mindfulness is paying attention to your moment-to-moment experience.

While the benefits of meditation have been known for centuries, recent neuroscience and psychology studies have confirmed its benefits: better concentration and perception, and increased ability to empathize with others and be present in difficult situations. Additionally, meditation reduces stress and increases immune response and positive emotions. It can even lengthen your lifespan.

I’m busy. I don’t have time to meditate, you think.

That’s okay—you don’t need to meditate for long. About 20 to 30 minutes a day works.

And the benefits for legal professionals—who face demanding, intellectually challenging work, difficult issues and financial stresses—are legion.

Over the next few months, the NHLAP will run a series on Mindfulness for Legal Professionals here on our blog. Get started with us by watching the following (brief) video below, an Introduction to Mindfulness.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES HIGH AMONGST ATTORNEYS

Legal professionals are at a heightened risk of developing alcohol or substance abuse problems.

A study by the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry reports that the rate of problem drinking for attorneys (18%) is nearly twice that of the general population (10%). More distressingly, lawyers tend to develop substance abuse issues early in their careers, and these problems worsen over time.

Another study finds that 8% of prelaw students, 15% of 1Ls, 24% of 3Ls and 26% of alumni report alcohol problems. Among attorneys practicing 2-20 years, 18% report issues with alcohol; a full quarter of attorneys practicing over 20 years do.

Ignoring your substance abuse problem can have serious consequences for your career. The ABA reports that 27% of disciplinary cases involve attorney alcohol abuse, and the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability attorney assistance program has said that 60% of its client attorneys had malpractice suits filed against them while they were suffering from substance abuse.

Why are legal professionals so vulnerable to substance abuse problems? Stress due to heavy workloads, dealing with clients or high-stakes cases is a factor; so too is the social, drinking culture prevalent in the profession. Lawyers may also suffer from psychological illnesses that can cause or exacerbate substance abuse problems.

If you are a New Hampshire legal professional suffering from substance abuse, please contact the NHLAP confidentially at (877) 224-6060.

WELCOME

Welcome to the blog of the New Hampshire Lawyers Assistance Program. The NHLAP provides concrete, confidential advice and assistance to lawyers, judges, law students and families in dealing with alcoholism or addiction, mental health issues and any other personal or professional crises legal professionals might face.

The study and practice of law is challenging, stressful work and unfortunately it is not uncommon for legal professionals to struggle with alcoholism or addiction to prescription or illegal drugs. Lawyers may also suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders or financial difficulties, among other issues.

When faced with these difficulties, it is natural to feel embarrassed or concerned about your professional reputation. But it is important, for your sake as well as your clients’, that you seek help. The NHLAP has helped hundreds of lawyers in your situation and it is prepared to help you, at no risk to your personal or professional reputation.

All contact between legal professionals or concerned third parties and the NHLAP is completely confidential, per Supreme Court Rule 58. Furthermore, NHLAP is exempt from reporting professional misconduct, per Rule 8.3. No information will be disclosed except under the express authority of the affected person.

Please do not hesitate to seek help from the NHLAP. Now run by its first executive director, Cecie Hartigan, a 25 year member of the New Hampshire Bar, the NHLAP can be reached in the following ways:

(877) 224-6060 (toll free)
(603) 491-0282 (emergencies)
info@lapnh.org
Click here for an online intake form