Law schools are independent bodies that can satisfy accreditation and other requirements in their own ways. One thing is consistent, however, across all accredited law schools: Their job is to train people to be lawyers, not to mitigate their emotional distress after they become licensed. For all the core work that law schools do, their great effort can suffer an ignominious end depending on where that alumnus lands. This Library enhances what law schools do for their students. Should law school graduates need help after they get licensed and start their careers, they are pretty much on their own, and the outstanding education they received can be for naught. Notwithstanding each graduate’s situation, the likelihood is that they will need help of some kind, including help finding a mentor, help finding a job, help learning how to set up their own practice, help changing careers if they find they don’t like the one they’re in, help understanding the value of legal malpractice insurance and how to select the right policy, help dealing with stress and anxiety, help in finding help!
The Lawyer Wellness Library will bring to law students and their alumni the help they need, help that they aren’t taught in law school because it has to do with life after law school. The tricky question is how to bring this digital library of helpful information to all new lawyers from the time they graduate and get licensed in some state. The one way to put this Library into the hands (i.e., inbox) of all lawyers, from Day One, is to have the law school deliver it to all their students from the day they start law school and continue to deliver it after they graduate and go on to other things. In that way, all alumni of every law school will be sure to have the help they need at their fingertips and not have to depend upon their employers to help them.
Importantly, every Library Card will include an 8-Hour Audio Course—for free—giving every new lawyer eight hours of seasoned advice from experienced lawyers on the unseen traps that can cause heartache if unknown. New lawyers are benefited by hearing these warnings from the lips of lawyers who learned the hard way, and the Course is free with the dashboard of the Wellness Library. Lawyers pay close to $1,000 for a course like this one, but the savings in malpractice deductibles, to the lawyer or the firms they work for, can easily exceed $10,000because every hour of the eight supplies the wisdom to avoid common malpractice traps, any one of them capable of disrupting a new lawyer’s life.
Advantages to Law Schools
- It will cost law schools nothing, nada, zip! All these advantages come to the school for free, paid by others who gain a benefit from the school’s participation. This is the benefit of mutualism.
- The law school will be able to offer its students and alumni a thing of great value, namely a digital library full of wellness strategies so they can control their own well-being without having to reveal personal and private concerns to people who might judge them. By offering this as a benefit to their students, the law school will be giving their students something they undoubtedly won’t get elsewhere. Moreover, importantly, many people students included, of course – are reluctant to ask for help. This Library will encourage them to ask for help from their school by making them comfortable with the subject. In fact, the Library will show them where to find help outside their school, if that makes them more comfortable.
- This Library will promote a reduced anxiety among law students because it will provide them with information and open conversations about what they will encounter after they pass a bar exam. It’s always what we don’t know that makes us most nervous.
- The law school will get its own subdomain, which provides many advantages of its own:
- The school will get a banner on its subdomain that will be a portal into its school’s website, and the school can use the banner for a monthly “marketing” campaign of its design and choosing;
- Every subdomain has a dashboard for the subdomain holder to control the subdomain, including to create analytics to determine what its law students are looking at and what its alumni are looking at, and also to use the dashboard to change the text on its banners for different monthly campaigns.
- The monthly campaigns can be used to spotlight professors, achievements of students and alumni, announce events (like moot court or mock trials/mediations) and request judges from among alumni, and seek donations from alumni.
- Alumni always complain that their law schools are always asking for money and give them nothing. Now the school can give their alumni a thing of great value, namely the way to good health that they control in their own discretion.
- The administration and professors of the law school will have the peace of mind to know that their students and alumni are being supplied with something they do not presently have, namely help in the form of strategies to promote their own well-being.
- The Library will be filled with strategies of well-being from across all disciplines that study and expound on the subject of distress and how to mitigate it, including psychology, sociology, philosophy, religion, western and alternative medicine, and the arts of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. Whatever kinds of things people turn to will be offered here. There will be a strong emphasis on 12-Step programs.
- The Library will be a dynamic, living, digital landscape for lawyers and soon-to-belawyers to find answers about their own relationship to this profession.
- An advantage to the school, its students, and alumni is the presence of the Lawyers Assistance Program for the state where the school dwells. Every state has a LAP that offers help to law students, lawyers and judges who are struggling with addictions and mental illness. Some LAPs offer free counseling sessions and programs that are wellknown to recovering addicts of all kinds. Every LAP will be in the Library’s subdomain that belongs to the school – giving LAPs the extra exposure they need to reach their target audience.
Advantages to Law Students
- This Library will deal with the problem of well-being in an open and positive light, letting students know that they aren’t alone, now or after they get licensed. The Library will be full of hope that there are solutions to the stress that has led lawyers to quit practicing law, that quitting isn’t the only way to inner happiness and peace of mind, that the need for strategies to cope with the stress and anxiety of practicing law affects large numbers of lawyers, that there are solutions to an unhappy legal career, that there is no reason to be afraid or worried if they discover they don’t like their job, and that the answers to their situation lie within and can be found.
- There is no hiding the true picture of the difficulties encountered by new lawyers in the practice of law. Law school graduates face an almost one-in-three likelihood their career will end badly by the tenth year of employment. This is a true statistic and ignoring it is not helpful to law students. This Library will allow students to discover the nature of the problem and to see that there is help for any lawyer who is struggling to stay balanced. If professors wish to have a classroom dialogue, this Library will be full of topics and conversations.
- This Library will promote diversity and inclusion by giving all law students a sense of belonging to whatever marginalized group they identify with. A main goal of the Library is to get lawyers to focus not on just treating lawyers of diverse backgrounds with equality, but to view lawyers of diverse backgrounds with equality. There is no denying that lawyers from marginalized groups experience greater stress in the workplace than those who aren’t; this Library will allow law students to see for themselves that a robust conversation is occurring in the legal community around the differences among people towards the larger goal of coming to appreciate those differences and not fear them. The Library adopts the principle that people will grow to like others who look different from them once they come to know them – and that openly discussing about ourselves in a stigma-free zone will lead to friendship and friendship leads to equality.
- A big difference between law school and a law job is that law school is a place of psychological safety. Once they graduate and become licensed and get a job, the new lawyer will feel the stigma of the profession, wary of revealing any vulnerabilities to the people who hold the key to their employment and promotions. While they are still in school, administrators and professors want to help them, and the environment permits safe conversations. This Library will promote those conversations.
- The Library will emphasize the value of having a mentor. The Library will have a monthly section on advice from seasoned lawyers to new ones, and those ideas will be ones worth hearing because avoiding a spill can make all the difference. Moreover, the Library will support local efforts to connect new lawyers with a mentor from their community, gathering names of volunteers from bar associations with senior members who have time on their hands. Law students will be comforted to know they can get help finding a mentor after they pass a bar exam; supposedly this is a point of worry for law students and new lawyers, and this Library will remove a lot of that worry by showing them that someone is working on it. The Library will have a virtual “Coffee House” with a corner called “Old Dogs, New Tricks – New Dogs, Old Tricks!” that will feature short videos of senior lawyers who have learned something new and senior lawyers that have words of wisdom for new lawyers.
Advantages to Alumni
When a law school accepts the sponsorship of a firm or a malpractice carrier and delivers the Library to its alumni without cost, the alumni are free to share the Library with the lawyers in their fold. The only big difference is this: When the Library comes from the holder of the subdomain, then both the holder of the subdomain and the ones who receive the subdomain receive a dashboard to use as their “Library Card.” If a lawyer with a dashboard passes the Library onto other lawyers (or nonlawyers), the recipient can use and enjoy the Library, but without a dashboard. The Central Library will be accessible to the public (sans dashboard) although they can join with a full Library Card and get a dashboard, for a monthly or annual fee.
The primary concept of the Library is that there is a myriad of ways to emotional well-being. Law firms and bar associations offer their members sessions of strategies like yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, which are all excellent for maintaining balance and equanimity. They also offer CLE’s for credit that cover topics about good health and wellbeing that meet their state’s licensing requirements, but lawyers tend to listen to those when they need the credit, and not when they think they are becoming unbalanced. CLE’s are generally 60-90 minutes, and lawyers may prefer something they can listen to or read in less than ten minutes. The Library will not be offering CLE’s; it will not be competing against bar associations.
This Library will be interesting, engaging, and informative – and cover a wide range of topics. It will be a virtual Library, with stacks of “books” arranged by topics, like Addictions and Recovery; Mental Health; Diversity and Inclusion; Disciplinary Traps; Mentoring; Law Schools and Students; Body, Mind & Spirit; Self-Awareness, Discovery, and Improvement; Re-Inventing Your Career; How to Start Your Own Practice; Should You Buy Malpractice Insurance; and other topics that have to do with inner awareness and peace. There will be Book Reviews (by practicing lawyers), lawyer jokes, App Reviews, and advice to the lawyerlorn, things “light” mixed with things “heavy.”
The Library will be curated by the Librarian and offer information and ideas that have been published in lesser-known places (or are published for the Library) and relate to the challenges of practicing law, from the viewpoint of a wide range of professionals who offer different perspectives, because people are different – and how they want to promote their own well-being will also be different. A place where lawyers who need to wake up and see their situation can do so in a safe and private environment.
At present, if a lawyer thinks the answers are on the internet, they will have to go looking for them. The Library will collect articles, videos, and podcasts that lawyers can find without effort, pushing the best that is out there into a single digital location. The rub is that people don’t know what they are looking for. If they knew, they wouldn’t need to find it. The biggest problem lawyers face is that they get into trouble and keep going along the same path. Waking up is hard to do. Lawyers are trained to be tough, to keep on going, to portray themselves as impervious – and it can wreak havoc with one’s inner life (and family life). Hard-working professionals tend to keep moving forward, when what they need to do is stopand take inventory of their lives. Many lawyers would be willing to engage in that exercise, but no one is presenting it to them. This Library is meant to do that.
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