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Welcome to Law School: A 3-Step Survival Guide

Are you about to start law school? Congratulations . . . You have probably heard at least a few horror stories about the stress, the dropout rate, the prevalence of depression, the high student loans, the competition, the high rates of substance use, and how law school is either like military boot camp, the Hunger Games, or the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. Challenges shape us, and law school is a life changing experience. Needless to say, it is best to have some helpful strategies at the ready, even before it seems they are necessary.

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The Diplomatic Way to Say “No”

In the life of a new associate at a medium or large law firm, it is not uncommon to sacrifice time with friends and family in favor of working long hours each day, working into the evening or on weekends at times when looming deadlines approach, and work with multiple superiors (partners and senior associates). In addition to the challenge of learning new aspects of the law, managing your time to complete the volume of work assigned to you, and trying to maintain your personal life in some fashion, the challenge of saying “no” becomes one of the most common sources of stress among new associates.

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The Problem with Lawyers and Self-Care

Lawyers are not unique in their struggle to prioritize their health and well-being. Many in the helping professions focus on those they aim to help at the cost of neglecting their own needs. It takes time and effort to learn how to prioritize one’s own well-being as an essential element in being an effective helping to others. For those looking for reasons to avoid addressing issues with their own well-being, lawyers can turn to their legal training to help provide justification for their avoidance of self-care.

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Defining Lawyer Well-Being

Recently a comprehensive report was published by the ABA titled “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change” (find the full text here). Within its pages you will find numerous recommendations for how to increase the well-being of the legal community from multiple sources (law schools, judges, attorney regulators, bar associations, employers, etc.). The report starts, as any report on well-being should start, with the definition of lawyer well-being.

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ABA Report on the Path to Lawyer Well-Being

In recent months, there has been an increase in the discussions of the high rates of substance abuse and mental health issues burdening lawyers, rates much higher than the general population. A recent study has confirmed what many of us…

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Exercise (a little) Control Amid the Chaos

We all have times in our lives when things feel chaotic; when it feels like everything that is important in our lives is outside of our control and we cannot improve our plight. The typical reaction to this situation is to exert more effort directed at changing things that are outside of our control, followed by an increase in our stress. Obviously, this is an ineffective strategy, yet it is one that we almost instinctively attempt. So instead of running on that hamster wheel, what else can you do?

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