Bree and Chris welcome lawyer well-being pioneer Anne Brafford to the podcast, best known for her roles as author of Positive Professionals, co-chair of the ABA Law Practice Division’s Attorney Well-Being Committee, editor-in-chief and co-author of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being’s report The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, author of the ABA’s widely distributed Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers and founder and principal organizer of Lawyer Well-Being Week, an annual event occurring every May.

 

Transcript:

CHRIS NEWBOLD:

Welcome to the Path to Lawyer Well-Being, a podcast series sponsored by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, where we talk to cool people doing awesome work in the lawyer well-being space. I’m here with my cohost, Bree Buchanan.

BREE BUCHANAN:

Hey, Chris.

CHRIS:

And we’re here with really one of the pioneers in our well-being space. It is always, I think, an honor to be the first guest of any podcast series and we are obviously thrilled to have Anne Brafford here with us. Bree, do you want to go ahead and kind of do a quick introduction of Anne, a dear friend of ours and again, somebody who’s been doing incredible work on behalf of our profession.

BREE:

Absolutely. I’m delighted to introduce Anne Brafford, Anne, who is somebody I admire and who I genuinely like and I know that whenever I’m going to have a conversation with Anne, I will do it with a smile on my face. So, that goes for this podcast today too. Anne, thanks so much for being here today.

BREE:

So, Anne, just a little bit about her background, she started out in big law and spent some time there and then made a pivot over the course of her career and ended up going to the University of Pennsylvania and pursuing a master’s in applied positive psychology and I can’t wait to hear Anne talk a little bit about what is this positive psychology business.

BREE:

She has been a very prolific writer. She has published a book entitled, Positive Professionals. She’s also been very involved in the lawyer well-being movement and has been a pivotal person. She’s somebody when I think about the work that the National Task Force has done. But for her, we would not be where we are truly. She stepped into the position of editor in chief for the National Task Force Report and took seven or eight writing groups, very disparate styles and pulled it all together and added all the research and really made the report in many ways the incredibly preeminent document on lawyer well-being. And so, we owe so much to her.

BREE:

She’s gone on to produce the ABA’s Well-Being Toolkit, which is an open source document that has been downloaded and used by thousands. So, I don’t want to just take all the fun away, Anne. So, I want to give people an opportunity to hear from you.

BREE:

One question we’re asking everybody that’s our guest, tell us what brought you to the lawyer well-being space. When I look at your bio, I see that pivot from big law over to pursuing that master’s. Tell us a little bit about that, if you would.

ANNE BRAFFORD:

Yeah, good question. And thanks so much for having me as the first guest on the new podcast. And Bree, I always love speaking with you. And it leaves a smile on my face as well. So, this should be fun.

ANNE:

So, how I got into well-being, it’s a long story that I’ll try to make short. But it started as far back as I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 11 years old. That’s when I first started saying I wanted to be a lawyer. And unlike so many of us, my childhood dreams came true. I actually kept the dream up, went to law school, which was pretty odd because I was the first kid in my family to even go to college, let alone law school.

ANNE:

So, when I got my law degree, it was really just one of the happiest and most proudest days of my life. And then I got a judicial clerkship and then I got this great job at Morgan Lewis Equity Partner. It was like, on the outside, everything looked really successful, and it was. I was very proud of my accomplishments.

ANNE:

But as I began getting a little bit older, I started questioning whether this was all that there was. Was I kind of living up to my 11-year-old dreams of what it was to be a lawyer, which is sort of impossible to do. But I kept asking whether is this all that I’m going to do in my one short life.

ANNE:

And so, really, it began to be a deterioration of meaningfulness for me. I became a lawyer because I wanted to make the world a better place. And I was an employment lawyer. As an employment litigator on behalf of defendants and I never felt bad about what I did. I thought I was protecting a law that really meant a lot to me, but wasn’t enough.

ANNE:

And eventually, I couldn’t answer yes anymore. And so, I ended up applying to get a master’s of applied positive psychology from Penn while I was still practicing law thinking I was going to fix myself or fix my culture. I was going to fix something, so I could stay because I wasn’t leaving.

ANNE:

But as I got more into it, I just started feeling a pull that I could either stay in law and kind of do this other well-being stuff part time or I could leave and really potentially make a bigger contribution to the legal profession by helping to make it a place where people have a whole kind of variety of backgrounds and interests can stay and be happy and thrive.

ANNE:

And so, I made a really hard decision of leaving law in 2014. And I kind of liken it to it was like tearing my arm off. I mean, it was a really hard decision.

BREE:

I’m sure.

ANNE:

Yeah. And then I resigned from my partnership position in the firm and then almost immediately started my PhD program in organizational psychology, which I’m still in the middle of. And so now, I focus entirely on the legal profession. But the individual organizationally, institutionally have really helping to use science, apply science to help make the profession, help it live up to its potential to be a place where lawyers can really feel like they’re doing something good for society and also thrive themselves. And so, I didn’t really leave the law. I’m contributing to the law in a different way now.

BREE:

I love that you’ve verbed thriving. That’s great, thriving.

CHRIS:

Yeah. And I think it would be helpful for our listeners to, you’ve now been for the better part of five, six years, but even before that, what would be your assessment of kind of what the current state of lawyer well-being is. We know that the report was released three or four years ago, right? We think that that was a significant catalyst and a national discussion. It feels like we’ve been making progress but I just be curious on your current assessment of where we’re at and what you think is on the horizon in terms of where we need to go.

ANNE:

Yeah, good question. I think it’s, for me, I feel like it’s a really exciting time to be in this area right now. And I’ve had this conversation with Bree as well. I think people who have been doing well-being legal profession for a while are feeling like there’s movement now. We’re starting to make progress in a way that’s really exciting.

ANNE:

And I do think the National Task Force’s report that came out in 2017 was a catalyst for that, that there already was so much talk and action going on in kind of small cells and that the report then really catalyzed thinking organizations around this idea of well-being.

ANNE:

And now, I don’t think you can talk to a firm or a lawyer who hasn’t thought in some way about your well-being and that was not true. When I was growing up as an associate, well-being wasn’t talked about really at all. And it was sort of considered, it’s your problem not mine, where I think now organizations are getting more onboard and saying, this is really a team effort that we are responsible to each other for this.

ANNE:

So, I think that’s great progress. I think we’re still at the very beginning though. I think, well, where I’m hoping to see the evolution will go to is from this individual level, which is really where the movement is primarily focused now. So, things like stress relief, meditation, resilience, these more individually focused programs, nutrition, physical fitness. These are a lot of the things that I see that firms are doing and I see at least around and that’s fantastic. It’s a great place to start. And it’s probably the easiest place to start.

BREE:

Right, absolutely.

ANNE:

But I think, yeah, the next part of our evolution needs to be more organizationally where and I think firms are starting … They’re sort of at the beginning of that now. I’m seeing this as more widescale culture change that if we really want to promote well-being, we have to seriously look at the cultures that are recreating the ill health that we’re seeing in lawyers, like what about the way that law firms, and I come from a law firm background, but when I say law firms, I really mean all kinds of legal employers. But what are they doing and not doing to support well-being and seriously, looking at their policies and practices. And how can we change those.

ANNE:

And I think then we also need to evolve to more of an institutional level. Or people raise their eyebrows when I say it, but even things about how our court system is run, how judges treat lawyers, how clients, inhouse clients treat their outside lawyers and how the outside lawyers treat their clients.

ANNE:

I was a litigator myself thinking about the judges, and multiple times and judges deny lawyers’ request to move something because they had a vacation or they weren’t feeling well, or judges just being disrespectful. And lawyers sometimes being disrespectful to judges as well.

ANNE:

But I do think it’s an institutional wide challenge of how can we rethink our system so that lawyers can still be their best and do their best for their clients, but also be well themselves. And I think we’ve made great progress, but we have a long way to go.

BREE:

No kidding. Yeah. And I also talk a lot about the fact that it’s not just individual lawyers that we’re trying to get to change the way they go about their work, but it’s the culture change, and that’s really hard. And so, I know that when we were writing the report, there was discussion about what are sort of the levers of the legal system that we can push to try and bring about some shifts to this, and particularly around, you’ve talked about with legal employers. And I know that you currently go out and speak to major law firms on these topics and what they can do differently. Can you give us some examples of what a law firm, a midsize or large law firm could do to bring about some culture change so that well-being is prioritized?

ANNE:

Yeah, I think the first place for organizations to start, and I actually think it might be the number one recommendation the National Task Force Report, number one or number two, but it’s about leaders. And I truly believe this. And my book that you mentioned when you’re introducing me, Positive Professionals, that’s really what it’s focused on, leaders and law firms.

ANNE:

And by leaders, I mean, partners and anyone who is responsible for supporting and influencing others. And I think a lot of partners don’t actually think of themselves as leaders if they don’t have a formal leadership position, but they really are because they have such an impact on other people.

ANNE:

And the organizational science part of this shows that leaders really are the creators of culture. They are the most important lever when we talk about creating cultures and changing cultures. And so, often when I talk to firms, what I’m talking about is focused on partners and how they interact with associates. So, many of our firms, although this is changing, but many of our firms have not thought about doing any kind of sort of leadership development with their aspiring partners and their current partners. And so, we think there’s many partners that want to be better, want to do better, but just have never had the skills, tools or training to do so.

ANNE:

And I so I think that is the first place to start of really talking to the partners about how their own kind of supervisory skills, but also with their role modeling to the associates and to not just associates, the staff and everyone around them that you can come out with the best well-being policy and your professional development people and your well-being director can have really good words to say. But if the partners aren’t doing it, that’s what everyone else is going to follow because they’re what staff and associates and all the other lawyers, they want to do well. And so, they look to the partners to know what that looks like.

ANNE:

So, if say they see partners that are not sleeping themselves, that are typing emails in the middle of the night, that aren’t taking vacation, that are rude to others, like that’s the pattern that they’re going to follow.

BREE:

Absolutely.

ANNE:

And so, it’s one of the things that I always underscore when I’m talking to partners is that everyone is watching you very closely. The higher you get up into an organizational hierarchy, the more people are watching you, both for what is the value system here and what do you think of me.

BREE:

Right.

ANNE:

And so, although you might not think of yourself as any different, oh, I’m still the same Anne Brafford, I just have a new partner title, like nope, you’re actually different because people are treating you differently, and your behavior has a much bigger impact on them both for their own well-being and for them watching what’s valued.

ANNE:

And so, I think there are other levers, but I think that one is so important and such a challenge, that that’s where we should just be focusing for a while.

CHRIS:

Anne, are you optimistic that the cultural elements that position those leaders to move the profession forward is going in the right direction, the wrong direction or there’s generational things that are in play, right? There’s societal factors in play. It certainly feels like there’s more willingness for folks to be vulnerable, which is a probably a driver that could be really helpful in culture shifts within the professions. I’m just kind of curious on your outlook of how optimistic are you? And what do you think are the kind of the underlying drivers that could either accelerate or hinder our ability to engineer this shift?

ANNE:

I think I’m always optimistic.

CHRIS:

We know that of you.

ANNE:

But I would say that my experience is that organizations are still all over the map. I would say like the ABA has come out with a wonderful ABA Well-Being Pledge, where many organizations, especially law firms have signed up saying that they’re going to really commit themselves to lawyer well-being.

ANNE:

And I would say, even within that group who have made a public commitment, they’re all over the map, that some of them, it’s nice window dressing, but everyone else is doing it. So, we need to do it to show that we care about well-being.

ANNE:

There’s others that I would say really are trying to figure this out. So, I think that at least now they’re interested and asking questions, even the ones that just have it as window dressing, that’s progress. It’s better than what it was before. Once you start making public statements about your commitment, you’re much more likely to start taking action because people are going to start questioning you. And you also want to be consistent with your public statements.

ANNE:

So, I think I am optimistic, but I think there are many obstacles to getting to where we want to go. Just our billable hour system, which is going to take a really long time to change, is everyone knows it’s a problem. I don’t know that you could find a single law firm leader that says they like the billable hour structure, but just no one has found a way to change it yet.

BREE:

Anne, I think that you’re a heretic for saying that, I mean. I mean, to go ahead and call it out, I get up and talk. And I usually don’t do this in a big room because I’m just afraid what’s going to happen but really, if I can get around to it, the billable hours, the 800, 8,000 pound gorilla in the room until we have some shift with that, it’s going to be a hard time to really change culture.

ANNE:

It is and I’m with you. I don’t often talk about it in large rooms. I talk about it in small rooms, but I will also say that the science on it, on number of hours worked is really interesting. So, there was a big study in 2014 led by Larry Krieger on what makes lawyers happy? Let’s stop talking about only what makes them sad. So, what makes lawyers happy.

ANNE:

And their study found that number of hours alone was not related to well-being or happiness, but billable hours work were. The more that billable hours rose, the less happy that people became. So, you could have two lawyers working the same number of hours but have different levels of happiness based on whether one felt like they were doing it freely and autonomously because it was their own choice versus feeling like they were forced to because of billable hours.

ANNE:

So, there’s this idea of a basic human need that we have is autonomy. And it supports intrinsic motivation, like am I doing this because I enjoy it, because it’s my choice to be doing it. And it’s highly related to happiness and energy and all sorts of well-being that we care about. And so, it’s not just that.

ANNE:

I think when people think about billable hours, it’s often, oh, because we’re being overworked. And yes, there is a lot of overwork in the profession. That’s absolutely true. But there’s also it’s just harmful cultures that it’s [crosstalk 00:19:04] worst.

BREE:

Yeah. What are you billing your time doing, which can be really mind numbing and it gets back to that meaning piece.

ANNE:

Yeah. And do I feel like I’m just making up hours because I have to. Am I having to find work when I really need to go take a job just because I need billable hours rather than because I’m so engaged in what I’m doing. So, I think billable hours is a challenge for a number of problems. But firms tend to be extremely competitive. And when you get to the partnership level, the way compensation works, there’s all kinds of issues. I think the billable hours is just kind of the tip of the iceberg. But I do think there are a number of the ways that have just been standard practice within the legal profession that are posing obstacles that they’re going to be hard to change, but again, I’m ready remain optimistic. It’s just not going to happen overnight.

BREE:

Yeah, and I just want to commend everybody, the study that Anne just mentioned, it’s called What Makes Lawyers Happy by Professor Larry Krieger, and it’s really a great piece of work and maybe we can get Larry on the podcast.

CHRIS:

Yeah. It’s probably a good time to take a quick break here from one of our sponsors. What a great conversation. And again, thank you for being here. Let’s take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

 

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BREE:

Welcome back, everybody. We have Anne Brafford with us today, who is the founder and owner of Aspire and also has been a pivotal leader in the National Task Force and lawyer well-being movement across the country. And one of the things we’re going to talk about with Anne in this part of the presentation is about her pivotal role as being a founder of Lawyer Well-Being Week.

BREE:

And Chris is going to talk to her about that in just a minute but Anne, really one of the reasons I wanted you to be our first guest is that you can really speak to a foundational component of our work, which is how we defined well-being. And in fact, I remember when we were writing, you, as the editor in chief, kept pulling us back to, okay, we need to define these terms. We need to substantiate what we’re saying with data and studies and all of the 200 plus whatever footnotes that were in the report and really tying us back to science. So, could you talk a little bit about how we came about to define lawyer well-being? What does that mean?

ANNE:

Yes, so this was set out in the report. We had a couple of pages of just saying, okay, we’re all wanting to talk about lawyer well-being, let’s talk about what we mean. And I need to give a shout out to Courtney Wylie and Patrick Krill, the three of us are the ones who really did the research and debated with each other and then offered it up, proposed it to the whole National Task Force for acceptance.

ANNE:

But what we did initially was to look at what other organizations were doing, both like corporate organizations and also organizations like the World Health Organization and other large organizations and how they were defining well-being and how they were approaching it.

ANNE:

And the first thing that was obvious is that this was a multidimensional concept. It’s not binary, you’re well, you’re not well. It’s a continuum and has lots of different dimensions. And the other thing that the World Health Organization agreed with, thankfully, was that it was, well-being isn’t just the absence of illness. It’s also the presence of full well-being.

ANNE:

And Bree, you’ll recall that I wasn’t only harping about the evidence, I also was always wanting to remind us to not only focus on the absence of illness in our report. And understandably, that’s where a lot of people tend to focus because that’s important of when people’s lives are really being harmed and ruined by alcohol use disorders and mental health. You want to focus there on just helping those people get better.

ANNE:

But there’s so many lawyers in the profession that although they don’t have a diagnosable illness, they’re not fully well. And so, we wanted to capture the full continuum of well-being and all of lawyers no matter kind of where they were in the continuum. And so, that’s how we define well-being of really making sure the first thing we noted is just like the World Health Organization, we are defining this to mean both sides of this, curing illness and also promoting full well-being and then the multidimensional concept of this involves both mental health, intellectual health, physical health, of all the different areas of our lives. These work synergy synergistically to make us fully well.

ANNE:

And then when you look at one of the big dimensions that is important to lawyers, all of them are, but it’s occupational health. As lawyers, are we fully well and we define that. And that’s an area where I have focused more on lately, like what do we really mean? And how do we measure it? And is it just again, like so many people will focus on things like burnout or depression, but what else is it?

ANNE:

If we’re looking at optimal functioning, what we want to look at is yes, we want the absence of illness, but we also want things like engagement, job satisfaction, high performance, low turnover intentions, like people who actually want to stay and thrive here.

ANNE:

So, I think even just getting into each dimension, there’s more that we need to understand and figure out how to measure so that we know whether we’re making progress or not. But that’s basically the gist.

CHRIS:

One of the pages that I’ll refer to our listeners to is page nine of the report, which I think has just a wonderful graphic of the holistic dimensions that I think you cite, the emotional well-being, the occupational well-being, intellectual, spiritual, physical, social. And I’m curious and just because of how much scientific research that you’ve done in your work on the occupational side, you’ve done some work as part of your master’s program on building the positive law firm. And what does some of the research kind of say out there with respect to that part of the well-being definition that I think that you’re spending considerable amount of time really waiting into?

ANNE:

Yeah, so my master’s capstone was on building the positive law firm. And then that was further expanded in my book, Positive Professionals. And there’s a lot of dimensions to that. The first thing I already covered, which is the importance of good leaders because they create culture.

ANNE:

I think that one of the other things that it’s so important in the legal profession that gets missed is that working hard isn’t the problem. That people who are highly engaged and love their work, they work hard and they work a lot of hours, but failing to take time to recover, that’s when the wheels can start coming off.

ANNE:

And so, I don’t think that there’s so much focus on lawyers work too hard. I think we should just turn it and say lawyers need to recover. Good lawyers are going to work hard. Anyone who loves what they do and are passionate about what they do are going to work a lot of hours. But thinking about how we recover and there’s a whole body of research just on what are the best ways to recover.

ANNE:

And I talk about it a little bit in my book, but it’s things like just sitting on a sofa and watching TV is not actually the best way to recover and actually conserve energy. So, one of the best things for lawyers, people who are very cognitively invested in their work, so lots of brain power, one of the best ways to recover is actually physical activity. It’s very engaging. It makes your mind come off your work. And also, just physical movement is really good for both our brains and our bodies.

ANNE:

And the disengagement from work is a really important component of recovery, of finding something that will engage your attention. So, thinking about what are called mastery activities, so art, music, sewing, knitting, anything that will fully absorb your attention is a really good and important activity for recovery because it helps you disconnect a little bit from work and also has other sorts of great benefits.

ANNE:

And I don’t think we can talk about recovery without talking about the importance of sleep, which I do think is a challenge. When I was a lawyer at my firm, it was honestly like people would sort of be competitive about how little sleep they have had for the week. And that’s toxic. Those kinds of things have to change.

BREE:

Yeah, and I talk about that when I go out and speak to new lawyers and just talking to them about the importance of sleep and how everything that you need to do as a lawyer is not going to be online if you’re not sleeping and there’s no honor in bragging about being powered by Red Bull. You’re not going to get the best work product.

ANNE:

I was one of those people, like I’m embarrassed by some of the things. Guys, if you would know me back then, some of the things that came out of my mouth … I was one of those people. So, I totally get it. It is hard to change. I’m still recovering on that whole sleep is good sort of thing. And I read all the science, like I’m absolutely convinced, but there’s just this draw of I have to get more done. So, sleep is a really important thing to work on in our organizational cultures.

CHRIS:

Let’s spend a couple of minutes in talking about something that in your capacity as a leader of the ABA’s Law Practice Division’s Attorney Well-Being committee, you kind of hatched an idea knowing that we needed to continue to keep this issue front and center and that was Lawyer Well-Being Week, which we just enjoyed.

CHRIS:

Anne, I just love your perspective on why you felt like that week was so important to sustain awareness of this particular issue, what will you ultimately learn from Lawyer Well-Being Week in terms of the amount of activity, which I think was enormous and encouraging and why it’s so important that we continue to keep this issue front and center?

ANNE:

Yeah, so, Lawyer Well-Being Week had been on my mind for several years and very excited that it finally came together. And there were a number of reasons why I thought it was important. One was that there were so many people that wanted to contribute in some way but didn’t know how. And so, I wanted to create one event that was big enough and diverse enough for a lot of different people to contribute.

ANNE:

And then second is just what you said, Chris, of keeping attention this important topic that we’ve all seen kind of fads come and go in the legal profession that something is there’s so much energy and attention around it for a couple of years and then we move on to the next thing.

ANNE:

And this well-being just can’t be one of those things. We have to sustain this lawyer. Well-being is too important for it just become another fad. And so, creating an annual event to really focus attention around the idea, keep attention on it, create a time and space for more innovation, discussion around it, firms get to see what other firms are doing just based on social media and by communicating with each other.

ANNE:

And so, we had the first Well-Being Week was just this last May. Unexpectedly, we had a global pandemic occur. And we had to pivot pretty quickly. Firms and other organizations have been planning some really cool in-person events that hopefully they’ll still be able to do next year, but everything had to go remote.

ANNE:

And I will say I was pretty disappointed. A lot of people were pretty disappointed. But in the end, I think the silver lining was that people were even more open to the idea of needing to care about well-being in the middle of this really difficult time.

ANNE:

So, although we couldn’t do a lot of the programming that we wanted, it may have even been better in that people were so much more open to this message than they might otherwise have been. And so, there was lots of engagement involvement by bar associations, law firms, in-house departments because I think everyone has become interested in well-being but also they were looking for stuff to get out to their lawyers during this time that they knew a lot of people were struggling.

ANNE:

And I do hope it continues to be absolutely raising awareness. But I also really emphasize innovation of really thinking about how do we move this forward. The meditation sessions and resilience sessions are really important, but how can we push Lawyer Well-Being Week to get organizations to think more culturally and institutionally as well.

ANNE:

And I’ve gotten very positive feedback about it. And so, we’re hoping that it continues and that it will be an annual event for many years and that we just keep making it better and better and find even better ways to serve the profession.

BREE:

Absolutely. And it’s definitely a priority for the National Task Force for 2021. So, let’s hope we can get together and enjoy that in person.

BREE:

Anne, because you’re really are, and I mean this, and it’s complimentary, but I really mean it, you are a visionary and a thought leader in the space. And so, I’m going to push you a little bit to think about how do we know that lawyer well-being is done? It’s fixed. We can check that box. I mean, when we sat in the room, the original founders in 2016, we talked about that this is a project that will take at least 10 years because we had a sense that it was a really a lot of heavy lifting. But we didn’t really break it down to what would the world look like?

CHRIS:

Yeah. What does success look like?

BREE:

Yeah, right, Chris, what does success look like in the lawyer well-being?

CHRIS:

You’re a metrics person, too, so, this is even better.

ANNE:

Yeah. So, I actually think those were two different questions. And I think what does success look like is a different question than when will we be done, because I don’t think we’ll ever be done.

CHRIS:

That’s right.

ANNE:

Because the profession will continue to evolve. The world will continue to evolve. People’s values will continue to evolve. And so, what lawyer well-being means and how we get there will be a forever project.

ANNE:

But the urgency that created the National Task Force Report had a lot to do with ill being, which was the statistics that got all of our attention on the level of alcohol use disorders and mental health disorders. And so, alleviating that I think is job one.

ANNE:

And how do we know that we’ve succeeded? I’ve thought a lot about that just with respect to Lawyer Well-Being Week, how do we know we succeeded. And I think like one, more simple one is, have we raised awareness about the importance of this issue? And how would we measure that.

ANNE:

But then, have we decrease the incidence of alcohol use disorders and raised the incidence of people’s willingness to seek help? And I think no organization yet has been doing broad scale regular surveying to measure that, for a lot of reasons.

ANNE:

But I do think like that those would be the kinds of measures that I would want to look at first because those are the things that are potentially ruining people’s lives. And these aren’t mutually exclusive. But then also looking at the more thriving aspects of well-being or do we have high job satisfaction, high engagement? Do people feel that their work is meaningful? Those kinds of things which there’s measures for all of that.

ANNE:

So, I think those things are hard to get out. That’s costly to do all those things. But I do think that’s how I would measure it. But I don’t want to undermine the importance of our people realizing that this is important, like have we got people’s attention. And I think, on that score, we’ve made incredible progress.

CHRIS:

Yeah.

ANNE:

Whether we’ve made a dent yet in alcohol use disorders and mental health, I’m not sure but we have to have that first level of awareness before we get to the next and then next, are we getting to full thriving, are organizational cultures fixed or institution? I’m not sure what those measures are yet, but I think that’s a longer way off.

CHRIS:

Yeah, the full thriving I think is really an interesting component because again, the opportunity for folks to pursue a legal career and find personal and professional satisfaction, so many of I think of our colleagues ultimately will find that they may have made a wrong decision.

CHRIS:

And one of the questions that I ask oftentimes when I get up the podium at a regional or a state bar gathering is, would you recommend that if your son or daughter or one of their close friends came to you and said, “Should I go to law school?” That generally the answer is a little startling of a lot of people saying no. And to me, that says something about the systemic nature of problems that people can’t maybe find what they are actually looking for or there’s a false sense of expectation on what they thought it would be like, versus what it ultimately is.

ANNE:

Yeah, I think it’s all those things. Even though I’ve left law, I would actually say yes, go to law school. There are so many great things about being a lawyer, but also stay true to the reason that you’re going to law school.

ANNE:

That Larry Krieger, who we mentioned earlier has done on work on the evolution of values for law students throughout law school. And what he finds is that law school culture is channeled lawyers toward, well, the brightest and best go to the big firms. And that’s great. There are lots of great opportunities at big firms and if that’s the right fit, do that.

ANNE:

But there are other people like maybe me, that when I had a different value system but I wanted to do what the best kids were doing.

CHRIS:

Yeah.

ANNE:

And so, I was actually going to be a prosecutor and was looking for internships with prosecutor’s offices, and a professor came to me and said, “What are you doing? You have good grades, you should go to a big firm.” And I’m like, “Why would I do that?” I said, “That’s not what I wanted to do when I came to law school.” And he said, “You can always go from a big firm to a prosecutor’s office, but you can’t do the reverse. So, just go try it.”

ANNE:

And so, I did. And I got into employment law, which I really liked, it was super interesting. And then you just get carried away with like, whatever the next thing is, I’m going to get that, I’m an achiever like so many lawyers are.

ANNE:

So, I do think like, yes, be a lawyer. There are so many great things about being a lawyer. It’s super interesting work. You can make a positive impact, but stay in the right lane. Do what you think you’ll love in 20 years and not just what seems prestigious right now.

CHRIS:

Yeah. Well, Anne, in our last question that I wanted to pose to you is one of the things that we’re so excited about is the growing army of folks who are passionate about this issue. And this podcast was developed for those particular folks who are leading state task forces, working on subcommittees at the state and local level. Just be curious on your words of wisdom as you get to kind of address an army of well-being advocates across the country, any thoughts about just this fight, this culture shift, any recommendations or motivational words to really an incredible growing number of people who are passionate about this issue?

ANNE:

Well, get involved in Lawyer Well-Being Week. And part of resilience is anticipating failure along the way and figuring out when you face those failures, what are the 10 or 20 different ways that you’re going to get around those obstacles?

ANNE:

And I think that that doesn’t sound very inspiring, expect failure. I think it’s absolutely important to the cause that we’re undertaking because there are so many obstacles. But it’s so important. So, expect that this is a long road. Things aren’t going to change tomorrow and really think about what those obstacles are. And when you have a failure, don’t feel like a failure, that think of the 20 different ways that you can get around whatever that obstacle is.

ANNE:

And that’s how I’ve approached it, that when I have a door closed or hear a no, I’m going different ways to get to my yes, maybe not as easily as or as quickly as I wanted. But this is a long game, this isn’t a short game. And so, just keep at it and really engage, get connected with people who feel as passionate as you do so that we can all help keep our energy up.

BREE:

I want to point out to everybody, we’ve been talking about Lawyer Well-Being Week and if you want to learn more about that, go to the National Task Force website, which is lawyerwellbeing.net. And all of the information, the great materials and worksheets and ideas for well-being is still up there. And it’s applicable throughout the year. And so, I’m hoping people will use that.

CHRIS:

Anne, thank you so much again for your leadership, for your inspiration, for taking risks in your personal life to become a leader in our movement, for the work that you’re doing on the science side of well-being. I mean, we are truly fortunate to have you amongst us and being a leader in our movement. So, thank you for being our first podcast guest.

BREE:

Thank you.

CHRIS:

Really cool. And we will be back with the Path to Lawyer Well-Being podcast in a couple weeks. Again, our goal is to do probably two a month, where we’ll bring more great guests like Anne into the fold and talk about specific areas of lawyer well-being. So, for me, signing off. Bree, any final closing thoughts?

BREE:

Just a delight to get to spend time with you, Anne, as always. Thanks so much.

ANNE:

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

CHRIS:

All right. Thank you.

 

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