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Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School: Mindfulness and Meditation

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LOCAL RESOURCES

Zen Law Students Association (ZLSA) (Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law)
Featuring the insights of ASU Law’s Professor Chad Noreuil who researches law students’ brain functions. Prof. Noreuil’s provides advice and secular, guided meditations. Regular “Zen Tuesdays” meetings occur bi-weekly from the start of the semester to just before reading week.

Center for Mindfulness, Compassion, and Resilience (Arizona State University)
The Center works to promote Arizona State University's culture of caring through mindfulness and compassion exercises directed toward students, staff, faculty, and the wider community. Video lessons  and news items introduce concepts related to mindfulness. The Equitable Mindfulness Initiative seeks to promote social justice. Text resources provide guidelines that students of mindfulness can share with others.

ABOUT MINDFULNESS

Law students and lawyers may face bouts of stress, unhappiness, and depression. Secular meditation can reverse some of those problems. Meditation involves calm, quiet, seated contemplation of the breath as a way of focusing attention more fully on the reality of the present moment. This mindfulness promotes positive attitudes and professional skills such as active awareness of self, surroundings, and schedules. It can prevent law students' negative feelings and stop themselves from drifting away to daydreams while reading their casebooks. Attentiveness to the present moment and also helps lawyers more fully understand and better meet their clients’ needs.

LAW REVIEWS AND JOURNALS

Awareness and Ethics in Dispute Resolution and Law: Why Mindfulness Tends to Foster Ethical Behavior (Leonard L. Riskin, South Texas Law Review)
Explaining how practitioners of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) improve their ethics through awareness of present actions and freedom from self-centered thoughts and inclinations. 

The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Contributions of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students, Lawyers, and their Clients (Leonard L. Riskin, Harvard Neogitation Law Review)
Describing how meditation can help law students and lawyers cope with stress and maintain the presence of mind necessary to provide superior legal advice drawn from concentration on the real world rather than habitual mindsets. 

The Cure for the Distracted Mind: Why Law Schools Should Teach Mindfulness (Shailini Jandial George, Duquesne Law Review)
Arguing that law students can become distracted, thanks to smartphones and other technology, but perpetually divided attention can be focused through meditation to improve learning. 

Integrating Mindfulness Theory and Practice into Trial Advocacy (David M. Zlotnick, Journal of Legal Education) 
Highlighting the importance of mindfulness to manage stress and improve focus of trial advocates, whose warrior persona requires awareness, adaptability, and poise. 

Law Student Wellbeing: Benefits of Promoting Psychological Literacy and Self-Awareness Using Mindfulness, Strengths Theory and Emotional Intelligence (Colin James, Legal Education Review)
Advocating mindfulness to help law students develop the important professional skill of self-care, so that they can overcome prejudgments and improve their awareness of their needs as well as their clients’ needs. 

Meditation for Law Students: Mindfulness Practice as Experiential Learning (Teresa Kissane Brostoff, Law & Psychology Review)
Advocating a changed law school culture that emphasizes treatment and prevention of emotional conditions, such as meditation to increase compassion for oneself and others. 

Mindfulness: Foundational Training for Dispute Resolution (Leonard L. Riskin, Journal of Legal Education)
Argues that mental shortcuts such as impulses, biases, insecurities, and rationalizations can hamper the effectiveness of negotiators and alternative dispute resolution professionals, but improved mental focus through meditation can help practitioners overcome decisions based on mindlessness, assumptions, or habit. 

Reflections on the Potential Growth of Mindfulness Meditation in the Law (Douglas A. Codiga, Harvard Negotiation Law Review)
Arguing that growth of legal mindfulness requires countering misconceptions of meditation as “mystical” or necessarily religious. Moreover, mindfulness can promote important lawyering skills beyond stress management. 

Sitting on a Bench (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness)
From the journal Mindfulness: Discussing how mindfulness can help judges overcome the challenges associated with overseeing court cases, such as the need for judges to remain attentive and in control of often-difficult or tedious situations, and how awareness of the present can help juries maintain their focus and refrain from pre-judging cases before hearing all evidence. 

Southwestern Law Review Symposium: Mindfulness and Well-Being in Law Schools and the Legal Profession
Providing a primer on mindful practices and how they can help build focus and relieve stress at all stages of a legal career, from law school classes to externships to practice. 

Zen and the Art of Multitasking: Mindfulness for Law Librarians (Marullo Anzalone Filippa, Law Library Journal)
Featuring lessons also applicable to other educational professionals, and discussing the role of meditation in honing the brain to handle the excitement and challenges of the legal field. 

AUDIO AND VIDEO RESOURCES

The Anxious Lawyer: Guided Meditations
The authors of a book on relieving lawyerly anxiety (see above) collect meditations to cope with stress, reconnect with the body, and face difficult situations involving clients and opposing counsel.

Applying Mindfulness to Law and the Workplace
A law professor discusses the science of mindful, compassionate lawyering.

Center for Contemplative Mind in Society: The Law Program
This group dedicated to incorporating mindfulness into higher education provides guided meditations for lawyers and discussions of how mindfulness can influence legal work and the law itself.

Warrior One: Free Guided Meditations
This group of legal professionals engaged in mindfulness provides meditations for lawyers to build focus, compassion, and the joy of expressing gratitude. 

BOOKS

The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation (Jeena Cho & Karen Gifford)
The two authors share their experiences as attorneys working to improve their lives through meditation and mindfulness and lay out an eight-week program for other lawyers. The course includes lessons on compassion toward others as well as self-compassion, clarity, and gratitude.

The Mindful Legal Writer (Heidi K. Brown)
Taking time for contemplation, reflection, and meditation on particular legal problems can be the key to mastering persuasive legal writing. This guide can help you achieve new heights in your legal writing by harnessing your awareness.

Mindfulness for Law Students (Scott L. Rogers)
This slim, light, graphic-heavy volume provides tips for students to live in the moment without judgment, and achieve success in the mental, emotional, and physical testing ground of law school.

The Tao of Legal Writing (Judith Stinson)
ASU Law's Professor Judy Stinson provides instructions on adapting to the nature of advanced legal writing to help students and practitioners achieve greater success. It all begins with being mindful of the key steps throughout the process, from thinking about the problem to research, outlining, writing and revising.

The Zen of Law School Success (Chad Noreuil)
ASU Law's Professor Chad Noreuil incorporates mindfulness and neuroscience into a holistic plan to optimize the law school experience, along with practical tips on writing, exams, and overcoming obstacles.

NEWS AND BLOGS

ABA for Law Students: Mindfulness
Mindfulness topics geared toward law students from the American Bar Association's Student Division.

Conscious Legal Minds
This attorney-founded blog provides advice for unplugging from technology and stress and turning on to compassion and the present moment.

Law School Toolbox
Tips for living a full life during three of your most hectic years, including advice on relationships, exam prep, and self-care; it's part of a blog designed to bring clarity to the law school experience.

Lime Horse Law and Life Blog
Lime Horse, which is dedicated to incorporating mindfulness into professional development, advises lawyers on how present awareness can help reduce bias, adjust to failures, and build self-compassion.

The Mindful Law Coaching & Consulting Group
This group of lawyers advices colleagues on building happiness and avoiding burnout in the legal profession.

Mindfulness in Law Society
This group dedicated to incorporating mindfulness into the legal profession provides suggestions for practicing mindfulness in a variety of contexts, from focusing on the breath to yoga to relaxing activities such as gardening.