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Mindfulness and Mental Wellness in Law School

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About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is awareness and acceptance of one's physical and mental experiences in the present moment. The guide includes instructions for meditation practice, which can enhance mindfulness skills, as well contact information for mental wellness resources and scholarly research resources.

Secular meditation can reverse problems when law students and lawyers face bouts of anxiety, unhappiness, or depression. 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 negative feelings and fight tendencies to daydream. Attentiveness to the present moment and also helps lawyers more fully understand and better meet their clients' needs.

Audio and Video Resources

Law School Wellness: A Guided Meditation and Resources
Relaxation techniques for law students are revealed during a guided meditation. Beginning at 3:30 mark.

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.

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.

5-Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
An encouraging, restful guided meditation to relieve stress.

Meditation for the Too-Busy Lawyer
Shortcuts to access the benefits of meditation without time commitments.

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. 

Text Resources

The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation (Jeena Cho & Karen Gifford, 2016)
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.

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It (Ethan Kross, 2021)
Our voice may be our greatest supporter and our strongest critic. By adjusting our language and our work and school environments, we can harness these inner guides to improve our effectiveness as lawyers and life satisfaction.

The Mindful Legal Writer (Heidi K. Brown, 2016)
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.

The Mindful Twenty-Something: Life Skills to Handle Stress . . . and Everything Else (Holly B. Rogers, 2016)
This guide explains the benefits of living in the present moment and developing the skill of observing, or awareness. It provides techniques for decreasing stress from the thinking mind, building your attentiveness, and developing effective coping strategies, a mental safe haven to reduce anxiety, fear, and pain.

Mindfulness for Law Students (Scott L. Rogers, 2009)
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, 2009)
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, 2011)
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.

Awareness and Ethics in Dispute Resolution and Law: Why Mindfulness Tends to Foster Ethical Behavior (Leonard L. Riskin, South Texas Law Review, 2009)
Explaining how practitioners of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) improve their ethics through awareness of present actions and freedom from self-centered thoughts and inclinations. 

Beyond Stress Reduction: Mindfulness as a Skill for Developing Authentic Professional Identity (Richard C. Reuben, (UMKC Law Review, 2021)
“Mindfulness practice has the capacity to help improve attorney well-being, uplift the level of professionalism throughout the field, and mitigate the need for attorney discipline.”

Calming Down and Waking up: An Empirical Study of the Effects of Mindfulness Training on Law Students (Charity Scott & Paul Verhaeghen, Nevada Law Journal, 2020)
This study found benefits of mindfulness in lowering stress and increasing focus and concentration as well as self-compassion of law students. The study found that students who practice mindfulness build useful skills for practice.

Cultivating Optimism: How to Release Self-Destructive Thoughts (Jeena Cho, ABA Journal, 2021)
When you’re caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, remember RAIN: recognize, allow, investigate, nurture, or notice what’s happening, experience the genuine feelings, investigate the causes of those feelings, and practice self-care.

The Cure for the Distracted Mind: Why Law Schools Should Teach Mindfulness (Shailini Jandial George, Duquesne Law Review, 2015)
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. 

How to Deal with Stress, Even without Meditation (Francine Tone, GP Solo, 2021)
Not all stress is bad, particularly for someone in the legal profession. But when it loses its usefulness, it’s important to manage it. Meditation is not the only way, and some lawyers might not be open to the practice. Analyzing stress, managing to-do lists, reading fiction, and elevating emotional intelligence by exploring your emotions can help you manage stress.

Integrating Mindfulness Theory and Practice into Trial Advocacy (David M. Zlotnick, Journal of Legal Education, 2012) 
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, 2011)
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, 2017)
Advocating a changed law school culture that emphasizes treatment and prevention of emotional conditions, such as meditation to increase compassion for oneself and others. 

Need a Mental Rest and Reset? Walking Meditation Is a Step toward Calm (Jeena Cho, ABA Journal, 2021)
Meditation does not necessarily require you to sit in the lotus pose, and it can help you recover from stress, trauma, or even grief. Includes detailed instructions for optimal walking practice.

Sitting on a Bench (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness, 2019)
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 (2019)
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. 

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.