Supporting Lawyer Well-being with Animal Assisted Interventions

Brooks, a white woman with long, light brown hair, wears a white shirt and light blue blazer.By Elizabeth “Brooks” Savage 

The legal profession is in the midst of an occupational health crisis — particularly with regard to mental health. In 2016, the American Bar Association founded the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, which subsequently published a report that utilized research from a study of mental health and substance use disorders among lawyers. This report summarized study findings that revealed “approximately 28 percent, 19 percent, and 23 percent [of lawyers] are struggling with some level of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively.” Additionally, “suicide, social alienation, work addiction, sleep deprivation, job dissatisfaction, a ‘diversity crisis,’ complaints of work-life conflict, incivility, a narrowing of values so that profit predominates, and negative public perception” were reported. Psychosocial hazards associated with practicing law are negatively impacting lawyer well-being, and Animal Assisted Interventions (“AAIs”) can help.

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Mark Your Calendars for This Year’s Giving Tuesday

Justin, a Black man with black hair, wears a white shirt, red tie, and navy suit. By Justin Hill

The Young Lawyers Division and the North Carolina Bar Foundation are teaming up for the third year in a row to coordinate #GivingTuesday on November 28 and make it another one to remember!

For this year, the YLD and NCBF are raising money to fund the NCBF’s civic education and pro bono programs, including Wills for Heroes, 4ALL – Lawyers on Call, Disaster Legal Services, and many other priceless programs. We invite all those who can to make a gift to continue supporting impactful programming across the state.

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What Makes a Good Advocate, Lawyer, or Law Clerk?

By Megan Reilly-Dreas

In my role as a judicial law clerk, I supervise many law students and am often asked what I believe makes a good lawyer, advocate, or law clerk. Whether you are a 1L beginning to think about summer employment, a newly licensed attorney starting out in the legal profession, or anywhere in between, this is my advice to you:

Be precise. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. The outcome of a case can turn on one or two words. Effective advocacy depends on specificity.

Be cognizant of timing. Knowing the Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically the timing requirements such as filing deadlines or statutes of limitations, will serve you well and require no legal analysis! Keeping track of what is due and when will make you a valuable member of any team.

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Summer Experiences: Advice for the 1L

Theresa, a white woman with dark brown hair, wears a black blouse and pale grey jacket.Kerry, a white woman with brown hair, wears an ivory blouse and navy jacket.Zannah, a white woman with brown hair, wears a white shirt and black suit.By Theresa DiCenzo, Kerry Sullivan and Zannah Tyndall

As a first-year law student, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed about securing the “perfect” internship or externship for your first summer. There is so much pressure to get valuable experience and boost your resume. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The reality is any legal experience you gain as a 1L will provide learning opportunities and help you develop as an attorney-in-training.

1. Don’t be worried about getting the perfect or most prestigious experience.

Rather than obsessing over landing a prestigious big law internship, keep an open mind about the range of options available. Smaller firms, government agencies, nonprofit legal aid organizations, and even judges’ chambers welcome 1L interns. The day-to-day work may vary, but every position will allow you to gain exposure to the legal field, build your network, improve research and writing skills, and clarify your own interests.

It’s understandable to have high hopes, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t obtain your top choice right out of the gate. Don’t let the process overwhelm your studies. The most valuable experiences are often unexpected. Over time, you’ll determine what areas interest you the most and what work settings suit you the best. Every position will teach you something useful for the future. The key is to stay open-minded, and don’t worry about checking boxes. Focus on pursuing genuine learning experiences, building skills, and identifying the career paths that excite you. The “perfect” job often comes from unexpected beginnings.

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A Letter to My Younger Self

Kayla, a woman with dark brown hair, wears a pale pink blouse, bright pink jacket, and gold fairy pin on the lapel.By Kayla Britt

Dear 11-year-old Kayla,

As you sit in your treatment chair, taking intravenous chemotherapy treatments for 12 hours at a time, watching Mary Kate and Ashley movies and making crafts, fighting the nausea and fatigue, wondering what your future may hold, trust me when I tell you that you will live a “normal” life and that you exceed every expectation you have ever had for yourself.

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Evening and Part-Time Law School Students

Bryan, a white man with black hair, wears a white shirt, coral and blue striped tie, and blue blazer and black-rimmed glasses.By Bryan Howard

As a part-time law student working full-time and attending school in the evenings, I have experienced the lack of awareness and understanding that so many people and organizations have about the process. Working all day and then attending classes in the evenings does not leave much time for networking, attending extracurricular events, or getting creative in terms of finding future jobs. Some evening law students use their law degree to climb the hierarchy in their current job. In this situation, the law student likely has already developed a relationship with the employer and may not have a need to network outside of that setting; however, some evening law students go to law school for the purpose of leaving their current careers. These scenarios have different outcomes but the things that remain the same are that evening law students are non-traditional students, generally with life experiences and a work history, who have decided to dedicate nearly all their free time to obtain a law degree.

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The Intersection of Law, Policy, and Disability Resources: An Introduction to NC Vocational Rehabilitation

Kayla Britt is pictured in a white shirt and dark blazer in front of a dark background.By Kayla Britt

A lawyer’s responsibility extends beyond the law. As an individual who was able to become a lawyer based on the support and resources provided to me by the NCDHHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (“VR”), I consider it an ethical obligation to inform my communities about their services.

VR helps people with disabilities achieve their goals for employment and independence. If you have a disability that prevents you from achieving career success or independence in the community of your choice, VR can connect you to services and resources to help you meet your goals. VR can provide counseling, education, training, job placement assistance, assistive technology, and many other services, depending on what you need to meet your goals for competitive, integrated employment.

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A Letter to My Younger Self

Jonathan, a Black man with black hair and a beard, wears a pale blue shirt, yellow and blue striped tie, and navy suit.By Jonathan Bogues 

Dear 26-year-old Jonathan,

Congratulations are in order. You’ve worked hard, graduated from law school, and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam! You’re the first person in your family, immediate or extended, to obtain a graduate degree and reach these new heights. Your family is so proud of you and brags on you every opportunity they get.

You’ll think that you have arrived. You’ve made it. You’re on your way to Easy Street and everything that comes along with it: the corner office, the BMW with all the bells and whistles, the deluxe apartment in the sky.

But wait a minute and pump your brakes, as that is far from the case. Now the real work begins. You will encounter and go through things that law school and the bar exam did not prepare you for. You’ll start applying to jobs that you’re interested in and think you’re a good fit for; however, it seems like you will hear a million noes or “no, thank you” and sometimes no response at all before you’re finally able to land something. You’ll be hurt, discouraged, second guess yourself, wonder if you’re smart enough, and wonder if you have what it takes to be “successful,” but you won’t give up. You’ll persevere, you’ll grind it out, and your friends and family will support and encourage you, and have your back no matter what. Finally, you’ll land that first job, and you’ll happily accept it.

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Searching for Volunteers for the Grab-a-Coffee Program: Fall 2023

Alex Gwynn is a Black woman with black hair and brown eyes. She is wearing a red and white shirt, black glasses, and dark jacket.Will, a white man with brown hair, wears a white shirt, blue and yellow striped tie, and black suit. Matt Meinel is a white man with light brown hair. He is wearing a blue shirt and black jacket, and he is smiling and standing in front of a tree.By Alex Gwynn, Will Robertson, and Matt Meinel

Do you have time to grab a cup of coffee? Instead of taking this one to go, how about spending thirty meaningful minutes with a future lawyer?

A half hour of your time is all we need to make this program a success! We are seeking attorney volunteers to connect with a law student and to pass on the valuable insights you have about succeeding in law school and entering the practice of law. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out this attorney sign-up form (law students can sign up with this student sign-up form). If you have signed up during a previous GaC session, you will need to sign up again.

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2023 Legal Feeding Frenzy Award Winners Announced

Fritts, a white man with brown hair and a beard, wears a white shirt, blue tie and navy jacket.

Spencer Fritts

Meredith, a white woman with blond hair, wears a black blouse with small white dots and a black jacket.

Meredith Brewer

By Spencer Fritts and Meredith Brewer

The winners of the 2023 North Carolina Legal Feeding Frenzy were recognized on Monday, May 1, by Attorney General Josh Stein.

The Legal Feeding Frenzy is an annual collaborative effort of the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the North Carolina Foundation Endowment, Feeding the Carolinas, and the North Carolina Attorney General.

Meredith Brewer and Spencer Fritts, co-chairs of the YLD Legal Feeding Frenzy Committee, along with Mike Darrow, Executive Director of Feeding the Carolinas, participated in the remote award ceremony.

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