An Idea Whose Time Has Come

jeena-cho-2For almost 2 years I have wanted to meet Jeena Cho.  And two weeks ago I got the chance.  Jeena delivered the keynote presentation for the Living Above the Bar CLE at the South Carolina Bar’s Annual Convention.

I’ve written about Jeena’s work here before.  She is a practicing attorney and the author of The Anxious Lawyer—a meditation and mindfulness guide for lawyers.  In my humble opinion she is one of the most articulate spokespeople around on the importance of developing mindfulness practices for those in the legal profession.  Jeena’s work is noteworthy.  But what is even more remarkable is that two weeks ago a roomful of lawyers received Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for hearing her talk about it.

Her presentation was a part of a larger program entitled Fit to Practice:  Finding Your Balance to Find Your Happy.  The theme of the seminar was that lawyers cannot function well as professionals (or as client advocates) when inadequate attention is paid to their physical and mental well being.  In addition to Jeena, the speakers included the Associate Athletic Director from Clemson University, a mental health advocate and 2 South Carolina attorneys who told their personal stories of the importance of self care.  The program consisted of a number of short presentations designed to provide the lawyers attending with a menu of options to help them maintain (or regain) optimal mental, physical, emotional, and professional well being.

The fact that CLE credit was available for the entirety of Thursday’s program was possible because the South Carolina amended it’s CLE rules 2 years ago to allow CLE credit for
programs related to both the prevention and treatment of mental health.  This small tweak in the CLE rules has been transformative in its creating opportunities for lawyers to come together and talk about the difficulties facing us in our profession and how we can best manage those challenges.

How interested are attorneys in these programs?

It was a packed house for Jeena’s presentation.  But not just her presentation.  It was standing room only for the entire 3 hour program.

Think about that.  On a Thursday afternoon—when convention attendance is usually at its lowest—a large ballroom at the Hyatt Regency was packed with lawyers listening to presentations on how they could live happier, healthier and more whole lives.  There is clearly a deep yearning to for this material, and a longing to engage with each other on how we can more harmoniously integrate our work with our life.

There have been a lot of headlines lately about the state of mental health in our profession, and many are asking are we going to be able to turn the tide of attorney distress.

If the Fit to Practice seminar attendance is any indication, I’m feeling good about our chances.

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