Why Prioritize Wellness?

Why Prioritize Wellness?

It should come as no surprise that wellness has become a front and center topic in recent years, particularly in the legal profession; but I have a wellness confession to make. In spite of being a risk manager for over 20 years and knowing how devastating various attorney impairments can be, I have been slow to personally embrace the wellness movement.

All I can say is the rise of things like goat yoga and the seemingly unending flood of articles and opportunities pushing mindfulness never spoke to me; and truth be told, tended to desensitize me to the importance of prioritizing wellness. My personal response was this is overkill. There’s no way I was ever going to get excited about having some goat climb up my back as I try to figure out how to properly execute a downward facing dog pose and I still don’t quite understand how I can be more present in any given moment than I already am. Now, don’t get me wrong, if goat yoga and/or the practice of mindfulness works for you, that’s awesome, I think it truly is. Stay the course! It’s just that neither do it for me.

That said, life has a funny way of changing one’s responses and opinions, especially when one takes the time to look and listen. Suffice it to say that personal and professional experiences over the past few years have shed some light on the value of personally prioritizing wellness, which leads me to the title of this post.

While the answer to ‘why prioritize wellness?’ will differ for each and every one of us, there is at least one reason to do so and is something we all have in common. None of us are getting any younger and we only have one life to work with. Seems to me that doing all we can to make the most of the life we’ve each been given is reason enough to prioritize wellness.

What I find most interesting, however, are answers that pertain to workplace settings. Based upon personal work experiences and extensive observations of law firms of all shapes and sizes, it has become abundantly clear to me that law firms that prioritize the wellness of all who work there are more successful than those that don’t. You can feel it when you first walk in. People are happy and there’s an energy about the place. In time, I’ll often also learn that turnover is low to nonexistent, the firm has a strong growth curve, and clients are paying their bills. In short, wellness sells. Yes, it’s a passive play; but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Prioritizing wellness will positively impact the bottom-line, period.

So, don’t be like me and let an unfounded belief that you need to participate in or offer goat yoga or mindfulness therapy on a weekly basis stop you from prioritizing wellness. Sometimes even the simplest of efforts can bring about dramatic change. It might be starting to subsidize gym memberships and/or purchasing ergonomic office equipment as part of a benefit package, adopting a policy that permits employees to take stretch breaks or recognizing and prioritizing the importance of time off, to include vacations. Of course, all attorneys will need to practice what is preached in that regard. A firm might also encourage everyone to leave work at reasonable times, and again, attorneys will need to lead by example, or it could be organizing regular informal lunch gatherings or the occasional afternoon ice cream social as a way to boost morale and encourage involvement. Of course, a list like this can go on and on. As I see it, the possibilities here are only going to be limited by an unwillingness to make wellness a priority. Don’t let this hold true for your firm, because again, wellness sells.

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Since 1998, Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq. has been a Risk Manager with ALPS, an attorney’s professional liability insurance carrier. In his tenure with the company, Mr. Bassingthwaighte has conducted over 1200 law firm risk management assessment visits, presented over 550 continuing legal education seminars throughout the United States, and written extensively on risk management, ethics, and technology. Mr. Bassingthwaighte is a member of the State Bar of Montana as well as the American Bar Association where he currently sits on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility’s Conference Planning Committee. He received his J.D. from Drake University Law School.