Are you a mindful lawyer? (LegalNews.be)
Date of publication: 12/02/2018
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient technique to train the mind to be focused and relaxed. It’s now taking center stage in the public discourse, with sport champions and business leaders advocating its powerful benefits.
How can we effectively bring mindfulness into the legal world? We discuss it with Denis Corthier (MD Law, MD Psychology), Country Lead Belgium and Luxembourg of The Potential Project, leading global provider of organizational programs based on mindfulness.
Why are law firms investing in mindfulness?
With today’s continuous pressure and information overload (emails, messages, calls…), lawyer attention is under siege. Research shows that 47% of the time we are mentally off-task. Said another way, we spend half of our time on autopilot.
This negatively impacts individual lawyer performance, but also how lawyers work in teams, as well as how they interact with clients, in their communities. In addition, mind-wandering increases stress.
The main need of our clients is to enhance effectiveness and performance. Applying mindfulness in a context of knowledge workers such as lawyers, associates and partners, can help them by impacting their ability to channel attention in a more focused and purposeful manner.
Research is finding that people engaging in mindfulness practices at work are getting more focused and acquire stronger collaboration skills and ability to prioritize, higher productivity, better work-life balance, and wellbeing.
Recent research (Jens Näsström, Sweden) even points out that the strongest predictor of long-term career success for lawyers is mindfulness (attention management) – not intellectual brilliance, school rank, law school rank, or grades.
How is this put into practice?
Building on the client’s needs, we offer tailored solutions, aligned with the firm’s culture and target audience, delivering custom-made keynotes, workshops, and training.
Our typical training involves three main stages.
1. Focus and awareness : At first, we build the foundation, by teaching essential mindfulness practices to increase focus and awareness. The goal is to learn how to focus the mind and develop an awareness of yourself and what is going on around you. We do this sitting on a chair, so people can practice at work.
2. Mental strategies : Secondly, we enable employees to build on this and get to change their neurological patterns of behaviour: learning to be more patient, to be more kind, to have more creativity.
3. Daily work : The last step is dedicated to practical application of these skills on typical office tasks, such as dealing with emails, managing meetings, setting priorities, in our communications with clients and colleagues, and so on.
How can law firms measure the benefits and the results of their investment in mindfulness?
It is very important to approach mindfulness in a scientific and corporate way. Research is key to creating the business case for mindfulness at work, by enabling firms to measure results and assess the benefits of implementing such initiatives.
It is particular important when getting started: companies can define a pilot initiative that can be evaluated as a basis to scale up the initiative.
Example of Evaluation results from a global law firm lawyers and partners:
- 45% increased focus
- 35% improved effectiveness
- 34% better work-life balance
- 17% more engagement
- 35% decreased stress and
- 18% decreased multitasking.
Based on your experience, what are the mistakes to avoid?
I would say it is key to make sure that managing partners are fully on board. Secondly, I would recommend defining a program that is aligned to the firm’s culture and its objectives, and not just to run any meditation course disconnected from the job reality. This would help overcome resistance within the organisation.
Sign up for the free webinar ‘Corporate mindfulness for lawyers’ (22/02/2018)
Visit The Potential Project website
How mindful are you? Test yourself on our HBR mindfulness assessment here