The Anxious Lawyer by Jeena Cho Karen Gifford book cover

In the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, a book review explores what attorneys can learn about themselves and their world via meditation.

If you’re unsure about that idea and cotton toward the tried and true, let’s remember that meditation has been around for millennia. So it should be acceptable, even to your firm’s management committee. Just sayin’.

The review author is attorney Juliet Peters, and you can read the entire review here.

And the book co-authors are Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford—lawyers themselves, in case lawyers are the only ones you trust with your self-improvement.

Happily, Jeena will be a panelist on a program I’m co-producing in just a few weeks. Unhappily, the program will be in Miami, not Phoenix. But if you happen to be at the midyear meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives, drop in! Or if you’re in the environs that week for the ABA meeting, drop me a line at arizona.attorney@azbar.org, or tweet to me @azatty. It’d be great to meet and compare mindfulness strategies! (Spoiler alert: You’ve got me beat, and I don’t even know you.)

Here is a link to the conference. And here is a description of the panel, titled “Mindful Lawyer, Mindful Bar,” which also features Jayne Reardon, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism:

“Mindfulness has become top-of-mind for many people, including your members. Even as work–life balance, meditation, and increased fulfillment and satisfaction have become a more central part of a professional’s goals, those aspirations may seem harder than ever to achieve. Our panelists have learned through law and life experience how challenging incorporating practices such as self-care and mindfulness can be—but they have discovered the many wonderful benefits of these practices, including more joy and satisfaction. They will talk about the importance of mindfulness for the attorney. They also will offer practical tips and next steps to create robust mindfulness programs at your bar.”

See you in Miami … or wherever thoughtful lawyers gather.

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Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

We all have our guilty pleasures, and I confess one of mine is legal predictions.

Based on the number of folks who share with me their thoughts on which firms will next merge or go belly up, I cannot be the only one.

But among the less painful predictions are those related to what will happen to legal practice areas: Which will grow—and which will shrink—in the coming year.

Among those accomplished at the prognostication task is Bob Denney. His posts with his previews are much anticipated—and shared.

So that’s what I do today. Here are his best estimates for practice area changes in 2016.

For those in too big a hurry to click, here are a few of his predicted areas of growth: cybersecurity, white-collar crime, mergers & acquisitions, and employment & labor. Keep reading here.

Do you agree? Are you seeing the same thing? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.orgmaybe there’s a story in it.

What’s Hot and What’s Not In The Legal Profession Hot_tamales

OK, I give in to the “hotness” analogy: What’s hot and what’s not In the legal profession?

And here are a few other fascinating bits from Bob Denney:

Social media. Except for Facebook, it continues to be hot. Firm websites and blogs are still among the most effective online means for reaching in-houHot and Not law practice areasse counsel and potential clients, but some marketing experts say they may be surpassed by …

Content syndicators and aggregators. Platforms like JDSupra, Mondaq and even LinkedIn enable a firm to push its content to other sites and services.

Advertising. Whether online, print, TV, radio, billboards or even bus exteriors, advertising continues to be the principal marketing strategy for personal injury lawyers as well as others.

Millennials. Hiring, training and retaining them, as staff as well as lawyers, will continue to be a challenge because many of them chafe against the traditional law firm culture. Yet they are the future of the legal profession.

Departures. Although lateral hiring continues to be a hot growth strategy for many firms, most is at the partner level because firms want the book of business laterals can bring with them. However, fueled to a great degree by the expansion of corporate legal departments, law firm associates and even partners without a large book of business are departing to join legal departments. Why? The workload and the compensation are generally more consistent, without the pressure to record high billable hours and originate business. Translation: The quality of life is better.

Mindfulness movement. There are now reportedly at least two dozen law schools that offer for-credit courses in this Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques, which are supported by companies such as Google and General Mills. At least one law firm and the legal department of a major corporation retain a mindfulness coach.

Bar exam scores. The average score on the 2015 summer bar exams reached its lowest level since 1988. Some law school deans have said the test was unfair and that a software glitch made it harder to submit test results. The president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which created the multiple-choice section of the test, replied that law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who may encounter difficulty in taking the exam. And, of course, applications to law schools have been declining.

The 2011 State of Arizona kicked off Wednesday morning, and this correspondent decided to launch his week of education in the seminar “Meditation, Mindfulness and the Practice of Law.” It was a morning well spent.

First of all, it has to be a historic event—not only at Convention but in CLEs—to focus a CLE on such an important but non-buttoned-down topic. And then to include a “gong wash”—a vibrant and vibrating use of the gong to instill serenity and to end the session. Very impressive.

Pre-session: Mary Dolores Guerra and Donn Kessler, with the gong

Panelists were all experienced lawyers or, in three cases, judges. And they explained to the large audience how each had come to a practice based in mindfulness and meditation.

For anyone who may have thought that these people tumbled easily into this path, the descriptions were sobering. It appears to have been extreme difficulty or tragedy that led busy and successful lawyers to try meditation.

For instance, Michael Zimmerman, now a lawyer at Snell & Wilmer in Utah but once the Utah Chief Justice, came to meditation while his family was in turmoil. His wife faced a debilitating and ultimately fatal disease. So severe were her agonies that she attempted suicide two times. Their daughters, then aged 4, 8 and 11, “were in deep denial.”

After Zimmerman’s wife died, he found himself sitting alone in his bathroom every morning for half an hour. What he found was that as the day began, “and the shit started coming down,” he could deal with it better. That was to evolve into his meditation practice.

Other stories were just as compelling. Moderator Mary Dolores Guerra, a professor at the Phoenix School of Law, had to deal with her anger at the auto-accident death of her older sister.

L to R: Rhonda Magee, Michael Zimmerman, Hon. Donn Kessler

All of them used the session to suggest ways for lawyers to shift their perspectives in a way to help eliminate negative mood states and to enhance their well-being.

Panelist Donn Kessler, a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, noted his unique way to get past difficult meetings with fellow lawyers and judges: He imagines them as they must have been as 9-year-old children. That always brings a smile to his face, and fosters compassion for the person.

Hon. Donn Kessler

The session included more than life stories and advice. Zimmerman led the attendees in a guided meditation session that lasted about 10 minutes. And lawyer Judi Cohen had attendees engage in a one-on-one focused exercise that fostered empathy. That was followed by an open-minded stroll around the room to meet or otherwise engage others.

Questioners led panelists to transform their general guidance into more specific suggestions for those lawyers who may want to be mindful amidst their busy practices. Zimmerman may have been the most blunt in the benefits a meditative life had given him.

“Before I learned this, there were an incredible number of assholes in my life. Why was my life filled with so many assholes?”

“There is no doubt that I am a better lawyer due to meditation.”

Other panelists in this great seminar were Judge Roland Steinle, of Maricopa County Superior Court; Judi Cohen, a San Francisco lawyer and law professor at Golden Gate University School of Law; Rhonda Magee, a law professor at the University of San Francisco; and Dr. Shauna Shapiro (by videotape), a counseling psychology professor at the University of Santa Clara.