What’s Hot in Legal (and It’s Good for You) in 2016? Mindfulness.

Screeching HaltTo share with my fellow attorneys on what’s hot for 2016, I was struggling to come up with something cool and novel that would also be helpful and worthwhile for the coming New Year.

After weeks of surfing the internet and simultaneously scrolling between social media apps on my phone at 150mph for that one year end brilliant blog idea, it all came together.  My internet crashed and my finger cramped forcing me to just PAUSE.

After a good few minutes of an Oscar deserving performance of frustration, I came to noticing the present moment.  Fully being present, I discovered mindfulness.  Mindfulness is no new phenomenon as it has reached popularity in the U.S. over the past two decades.  Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to the present moment, without judgment, to become aware to fully experience the moment.

Mindfulness, What Can You Do for Me?

Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal and 60 Minutes have all done a piece on mindfulness and its many benefits (and the list continues to grow).  Researchers have found that practicing mindfulness through meditation literally rewires and increases the amount of gray matter in the brain.  What does this do for me?  Meditation impacts the parts of the brain responsible for memory, sense of self, empathy and yes, stress!

According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation results in many health benefits helping people manage symptoms of anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain and sleep problems.  Practicing mindfulness also benefits your emotional well-being as meditation provides a sense of calmness, peace and balance.  Emotional benefits of meditation include a new perspective on stress situations, skills to manage your stress, self-awareness, focus on the present and reduction of negative emotions.

Companies Are All Over It!

Corporate America is already onto the benefits of mindfulness, implementing mindfulness programs in droves.  Just to mention a few, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple, Intel, Aetna, Genentech, P&G, General Mills, Target, EBay, Nike, Deutsche Bank, Black Rock, Ford and HBO are all over it.  The program at Google, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, is so successful that it now is its own separate entity, SIYLI, with a 6 month wait list.

In addition to mindfulness being a mind-sharpening tool, lawyers can benefit from having a common ground with clients to build and strengthen relationships.  Wouldn’t it be smart for business, if lawyers talked, walked, thought and related like their clients?

A Legal Movement

Law firms can be slow adopters of change, innovation, technology, and you name it.  Lawyers don’t like to rock the boat and swear by precedents, watching on the sidelines to see who goes first and if he or she will land on one’s feet.  However, there is great hope for the legal market in 2016 as some large law firms, including Fenwick & West, are beginning to open their doors to mindfulness, with meditation and mindfulness trainings.

Mindfulness is definitely budding at the early stage of the legal profession in law schools, including Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law and University of Miami’s Mindfulness in Law Program.  And these law school mindfulness courses have waitlists.  The future is starting to look bright as law students are recognizing and desiring humanity in opposing counsel.

A Better Lawyer for 2016

As we embark on 2016 with new unknowns, surprises, deals, trials, disappointments and projects, why not start practicing mindfulness to become a better lawyer.  Not only will you benefit from efficacy and performance optimization in you professional life, but well-being in your entire life, both private and professional.

“When attorneys incorporate mindfulness practices, they are better equipped to deal with the unexpected, however it presents itself,” according to the themindfullawyer.com.

From numerous research resources including TED Talks, just two minutes per day for 21 days of practicing mindfulness can rewire your brain “to actually work more optimistically and more successfully.”

Wishing you greater clarity and purpose to your practice through the good news of mindfulness this holiday season and New Year!

Share your practice of mindfulness and how it has made you a better lawyer. Tweet us @FLEXbyFenwick #RedefineSuccess.