Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 28

LISA K ANOVSKY NELSON
Leidos

"I really started doing more of the adventure stuff when I was in my early
thirties," recalls Morris, the founder of EKM Law, PLLC. "I was a cancer survivor,
and after that, you tend to open yourself up to new things and new adventures.
You push your body in a different way than you did before."
Morris says it also prompted her to look at her career with new eyes. The need
for a lot of physical activity to counter the strain of work was not only diverting,
it was necessary. Beyond her healthy regimen of exercise and adventure sports,
Morris saw the need to change jobs to maintain her physical health.
"I worked for the D.C. government for 13 years on large-scale economic
development projects, and it was very stressful," says Morris, who also skydives
and rappels down buildings. "I needed to do something else, something
less stressful, and I wanted to do my own thing. I was willing to take the risk
to have the quality of life that I wanted. I am comfortable with the risk because
life is too short to not take the risk."
Not everyone needs to take up surfing or skydiving to stay physically fit. Time
spent on the treadmill daily, a vigorous walk, or working at a standing desk in
the office all contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Health professionals believe that
balancing exercise, a good diet, and strong personal and family connections all
contribute to a physically balanced life.
The pursuit of wellness and balance is a weekly appointment for attorney
Lisa Kanovsky Nelson. She and her husband Brian take ballroom dance lessons
at a Chevy Chase, Maryland, studio. Learning how to foxtrot, rumba, and salsa
is a long way from the law, but then that's the idea.
"My husband and I go twice a week for dance, and it's part of our exercise of
mindful living," says Nelson, who works for Leidos, a defense and information
technology contractor. "Learning to do something different, something new,
makes us feel like we're constantly growing. There are new steps, new techniques, and you end up using a different part of your brain than at work. Plus,
it's incredibly physical."

THE QUEST FOR HEALTHY,
HAPPY LAWYERS
The legal profession has always been a place where attorneys humble-brag
about the length of their workweeks. It has been a badge of honor to endure
60 hours to 80 hours of work in a single week for months and years on end, and
to live to tell the story.

28 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

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Today, that hardcore attitude is softening. Attorney rates of suicide, depression,
substance abuse, and burnout in the United States are higher than the general
population. Whether working in Big Law firms, solo practices, a government
agency, or an in-house counsel's office, the daily pressures, stresses, and anxieties of attorneys are exacting a heavy toll .
"I think lawyers in many practice settings face serious problems and stresses,"
says Patrick Krill, founder of Krill Strategies and a leading authority on attorney
mental health and addiction issues. "This is a complex problem to solve," Krill
adds. "It's a combination of the stresses, the personalities, and the mindsets that
lawyers bring to work and the feeling that they need to be perfect. Their attitudes about self-care are changing, but there still is a lot of denial and definitely
a fear of disclosing problems."
The October 2018 suicide of Sidley Austin LLP partner Gabe MacConaill is the
latest in a line of tragic deaths within the profession, and it is a cautionary tale.
A thorny series of events at his Los Angeles office - staff departures, extra
duties, a major bankruptcy case, and a fear of confessing his exhaustion -
and a hereditary mental health disorder created an environment for depression
and suicide.
With so many troubled lawyers and law students, the pursuit of physical,
mental, and even financial wellness in the legal profession has turned from a
good idea into an industry-wide crusade. There is desperation in the silence of
struggling attorneys and urgency in the pleas of their families, friends, and firms.
Ultimately, however, it comes down to the individual and a choice.
"You have to choose your own path," says Nelson, who has also branched out to
throwing clay pots on the weekends to maintain mental focus. "I was in Big Law.
I made a lot of decisions about what I wanted. I don't think there's one easy
route in a law career. You must make choices and sacrifices and decide what's
best for you personally, your family, and your health."

MAKE TIME FOR FITNESS
Health experts say the best way to make a change in physical routines - or to
take on a more ambitious exercise regimen - is to follow a few obvious steps:
visit a doctor to get the green light; establish reasonable goals; set aside time,
even as little as 15 minutes a day; track personal exercise successes and failures
in a journal; and ask for advice and encouragement, if it's needed. Of course, it
doesn't hurt to hire a personal trainer if the self-motivation is failing.
Good habits learned early, preferably in law school, are a key to maintaining
balance, say attorneys. Law schools are more sensitive today to their students'
physical and mental health needs than in the past, and most schools offer
counseling and wellness services to help students make it through dark periods
or to develop their own habits for handling stress.
But lawyers don't always find the need for a wellness practice until they spend
a few years at a taxing job or face family or financial woes. Major hurdles remain
in opening up to colleagues and bosses about ongoing difficulties, or accessing
firm wellness programs without the fear of anyone knowing.
That is one reason the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) was designed
- to bring greater awareness to issues that affect the quality of life of lawyers,
and to provide resources for lawyers who need specific mental health, addiction, and wellness services. Referral and counseling services can give Bar
members much-needed support at a grim time.

Emily K. Morris (left) on a ziplining adventure with her family.
Surviving cancer, Morris says, prompted her to look at her career
with new eyes.

Courtesy of Emily K. Morris

"You have to choose your own
path . . . I don't think there's
one easy route in a law career.
You must make choices and
sacrifices and decide what's
best for you personally, your
family, and your health."


http://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Goverment & Gavel
Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Feature: The Road to Wellness
Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Goverment & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: The Road to Wellness
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover4
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