With the anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important for current and future bar members to know what mental health and wellness resources are available. Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales spoke virtually to over 40 attorneys and law students on Monday, Feb. 1 and shared Florida Bar initiatives aimed at assisting current and future members of the bar in their legal practices and beyond. WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) hosted the event.
During the conversation, Foster-Morales said, like many professions, lawyers believe the greatest pandemic challenge has been establishing a home life/work balance in addition to issues with isolation and technology. Attorneys, like others, are missing the energizing and personal connections made during “water cooler conversations” with co-workers. They find online meetings more draining because everyone is working harder to process the non-verbal communication like facial expressions, tone, and gestures.
Pictured: Dori Foster-Morales
“Service professionals have been hit hard by the pandemic, but especially lawyers who are in the business of solving everyone’s problems. Lawyers need to know how to solve their own problems too,” Morales
While speaking about lawyer happiness, the group discussed a 2015 report by Lawrence Kreiger and Ken Sheldon, which discovered lawyer happiness does not come from external factors most often associated with the profession: earnings, partnership track or graduation from an elite law school, but from internal factors like integrity, relatedness to others, and competence and internal work motivation.
A 2016 report by National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was also discussed. The task was formed to create a collective legal culture that is sustaining, influences ethics and professionalism for the benefit of clients, and promotes lawyer well-being because it contributes to success.
Foster-Morales introduced the lawyers and students to the Florida Lawyers Helpline, The Florida Bar Mental Health and Wellness Center, and the Bar’s daily updates on COVID-19. She encouraged them to take part in the Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers division as well as to create communities within the law school, firm, and local community. Foster-Morales encouraged attendees to focus on gratitude, saying, “Our brains are wired to spot and remember the negative because of our natural instinct to survive. I have found it helpful to intentionally look for good things, even if they are small.”
After the presentation, WMU-Cooley’s FAWL President Yasmin Rammaha said, “