Making Attorney Self-Care an Atomic Habit

Ashley Banks is a young woman with golden brown hair and brown eyes. She is pictured smiling against a black background, and she is wearing a red shirt and a black blazer. By Ashley Banks

As legal professionals, we dedicate significant time and energy to improving our practice, our knowledge, our business. But how much time do we devote to improving the way we care for ourselves? When is the last time you reviewed your self-care routine, implemented new self-care strategies, or set time aside for self-care planning? If you’re like me, your self-care routine may benefit from a well-designed system — James Clear’s Atomic Habits system.

Self-Care is Key for Legal Professionals, But it is Not Our Forte

As advocates serving others in a myriad of ways, our profession is notorious for disregarding the well-established principle of “fitting our own oxygen mask first.” But, it’s because we are advocates serving others in a myriad of ways that fitting our own oxygen mask first is so critical.

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Disability Access in the Practice of Law – Begin Making Your Law Firms More Accessible for Disabled Employees and Clients with this Simple Checklist

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Derek, a white man with blond hair, stands before a sunny window and wears a black suit and gray plaid tie over a white shirt.By Derek J. Dittmar

You may be unintentionally excluding a quarter of your clients and coworkers.

Twenty-six percent of adults living in the United States live with some sort of disability. However, fewer than one percent of American attorneys report having a disability, which can include sensory, physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological conditions, many of which are not immediately perceivable by the public. It is unsurprising that most legal providers do not know how to make their services, offices, and products accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs). When our profession is not conducted with a focus on accessibility for clients, and when we lack disabled coworkers to provide their lived and learned expertise, we are giving up, or greatly limiting, the chance to work for, and with, PWDs. Obviously, law schools have a vital role to play in expanding opportunities in the practice of law for PWDs, but that is the subject of a different post. Today, I am going to focus on why ensuring accessibility is both a legal and ethical obligation for attorneys and firms, in addition to simply being good business sense. Read more

Micro Mindfulness For Modern Lawyers

By Colleen L. Byers

We don’t need anything else to add to our to-do list. We don’t need to overhaul our entire practice. Instead, we can do one little thing that could make a big, positive impact through a practice called micro mindfulness.

Micro mindfulness is a practice of interspersing small doses (think less than 0.1 of your time) of attention to the present moment a few times throughout the day. It’s as simple as adding just a pinch of salt to enhance your meal. As my late grandmother used to say, “A little bit will do ya.”

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An Aspirational Statement of Equality and Civility

By Adam G. Linett

The North Wind and the Sun got into a dispute about which one was stronger. To put the issue to a test, they decided that whoever sooner made a traveler take off his cloak would be the more powerful and win the argument.

The Wind blew with all its might, but the stronger he blew, the closer the traveler wrapped the cloak around him. Then, the Sun came out and, as it gently shone brighter and brighter, the traveler sat down and, overcome with heat, cast his cloak to the ground.

So goes one of Aesop’s fables, and the lesson taught some thousands of years ago is that persuasion is better than force, and that to be effective in winning an argument, one must consider how to argue, rather than to just rely on blunt force.

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Objectivity

By Coleman Cowan

In the summer of 2009 I traveled to a small village in the Ramsdalen valley of Norway to shoot a story for 60 Minutes about a group of adventurers jumping off cliffs and flying to the ground in wingsuits. We hired one of them to shoot video while they were in flight. He was from South Africa but had been living for the past few years with his girlfriend in a VW Bus in the French Alps. Julian Boulle was his name.

I lived with Julian in a farmhouse for two weeks during our shoot. We were together morning, noon, and night. Julian proved to be incredibly knowledgeable, not only about the techniques and mechanics of wingsuit flying, but also some of the greater existential aspects of living so close to death. As the days wore on, and the nights became longer, our conversations branched out far beyond the story we were shooting. The more we talked, the more it seemed Julian had been everywhere and knew something about everything we talked about – war, politics, world culture. Picture Forrest Gump in dreadlocks. That was Julian . . . if he was to be believed. Halfway through our shoot, I decided I didn’t.

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Join Me on an Odyssey to E-Filing, Won’t You?

By Matthew A. Freeze

North Carolina’s Superior and District courts are undergoing an operational sea change: electronic filing. For those of us who practice before federal courts and state appellate courts, electronic filing will be nothing new. Federal courts have used PACER since 1988[1] and North Carolina’s appellate courts have used electronic filing since 1998.[2] But for many of our colleagues, the Administrative Office of the Courts’ new journey into electronic filing will be a great departure from our standard practice at the state level and we, as practitioners, have a great deal to learn. To borrow from Homer, even an attorney learns something once it hits him.[3] But this is not something which we must be hit about the head with to accept. It is something we should embrace, as it will strengthen our practice and benefit all involved.

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Isolation

The NCBA Professional Vitality Committee creates sourced articles centered on reducing inherent stress and enhancing vitality in the lives of legal professionals and offers those resources as a benefit for members of the North Carolina Bar Association.

By Michele Morris

In the morning, immediately upon waking, my mind screaming at me: “Get up. Get out of bed. You can do it. You can do this. Get up.” Not exactly high motivation. But I would indeed get up and sit in front of my computer, alone, in my apartment, drinking my first cup of coffee. I still had a small number of paying clients and an appellate brief due date looming. Even though writing it felt like pushing a rock up Mount Everest, I wrote.

It was the fall of 2019. I had relocated from Ohio to North Carolina in 2017 thinking that I could find work and seamlessly transition from a solo practice in Northeast Ohio to W-2 employment in Western North Carolina. After all, I am a seasoned litigator. My skills are easily transferrable, right? Um, maybe not. My income plummeted. I felt frightened and alone. Little did I know then that there was a much greater challenge lurking right around the corner: COVID-19.

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A Note To My Younger Self

The NCBA Professional Vitality Committee creates sourced articles centered on reducing inherent stress and enhancing vitality in the lives of legal professionals and offers those resources as a benefit for members of the North Carolina Bar Association.

By Coleman Cowan

Life is a journey. We all learn from our experiences. And if we’re paying attention, we become better people and lawyers not only from our successes but also from our failures. When I first started practicing, I made an effort to soak up as much knowledge and insight as I could from older, more experienced lawyers. Now that I’m one of them, I’ve taken on mentoring roles to help young lawyers just beginning to practice. If I’m honest, more time has passed than I would like to admit, but I still remember what it was like to be young, inexperienced, and fighting for my place at the table.

What appears below is a note to my younger self, with a bit of knowledge and experience I gained since I started practicing law more than 25 years ago. The idea was to help young lawyers – and maybe some not so young – learn from the experience of others, and perhaps come to terms a bit with the stress and pressure of being a new lawyer finding your way in an adversarial profession, whether in a transactional or a litigation practice.

A complete list of guidance would be endless, and there are likely as many good pieces of advice as there are practicing lawyers in the state. What appears below is in part unique to my experience, but also broad enough that others might benefit.

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2021 Legal Legends of Color Award Honorees

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By Gwendolyn W. Lewis

Impact breeds more impact. For six years now, the Legal Legends of Color Awards have highlighted the lives and careers of some of the most impactful attorneys of color in our state. Their contributions, lives, careers, and stories have impacted not only the clients and communities they have served or still serve, but also the attorneys who have followed in their footsteps. Many of those attorneys have now become legends themselves. The impact of a Legend is endless, and this year, with record registration numbers totaling two hundred and fifty-one, we were honored to elevate through video and virtual presentations the stories of a new class of legends. At the 123rd North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting and the sixth annual Legal Legends of Color Awards Celebration, we welcomed the following honorees into a distinguished and growing list of Legal Legends of Color:

  • Professor James E. Coleman Jr.
  • Judge Wanda Bryant
  • Attorney Karen Bethea-Shields
  • Attorney Julian Pierce (posthumously)
  • Judge Elreta Melton Alexander (posthumously)

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Network Segmentation – Perhaps the Only Piece of Good News From the Colonial Pipeline Hack

By Eva Lorenz

Introduction

Now that the situation at the pump seems to have recovered and returned to normal, it is time to figure out what actually happened in the Colonial pipeline attack and what lessons, if any, we can learn from yet another high profile cyberattack involving ransomware.

First, a few introductory words and some background on ransomware: ransomware is a common form of cyberattack in our time, and it involves attackers deploying code onto the victim’s network that results in encrypting files and folders throughout the network. According to the FBI, the best way to contain the attack is to block the code from moving across the network. For recovery from the attack, companies often rely on sound backup practices that allow them to restore encrypted files and folders without losing too much data. Of course, victims of ransomware attacks can also pay ransom, but that practice is still discouraged by the FBI and in some cases actually forbidden since the groups behind the attack are deemed sanctioned foreign entities.

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