ATLANTA—The State Bar of Georgia offered a new three-day conference to address the crisis in the legal profession regarding attorneys’ increasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. A College of Law faculty member and two law graduates had the opportunity to participate in the conference, which was held, fittingly, in Carefree, Arizona.
Charity Scott, the Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law, together with wellness instructor and attorney Alisa Gray of Tiffany & Bosco in Phoenix, opened the conference with a four-hour workshop on mindfulness for lawyers. Scott spoke on how mindfulness can counteract lawyers’ hard-wired, physiological responses to chronic stressors and can help them lower their stress levels, improve productivity, and gain insight into the mind’s natural tendency to wander.
“We also wanted to give participants the opportunity to experience a few classic meditation practices,” said Scott. “And Alisa is a certified yoga instructor who engaged the audience in gentle yoga exercises they can do on their own and at the office to stay centered and focused during their busy professional lives.”
“This wellness CLE program was the best I have taken in 13 years of practice,” said Lori Browne (JD, ’02) a personal injury attorney at Lori Audra Browne and Associates, LLC. “This program gave practical tips and useful advice on stress management techniques to use every day. It provided a great opportunity to decompress and reset through yoga, meditation and connecting with nature.”
Scott, Browne, and Lyonnette Davis (JD, ’91) took a guided hike through cactus territory during one afternoon. “This conference made me realize how much more enjoyable and effective an event can be, if mindfulness is practiced. Hiking through the beautiful majestic cactus plants while practicing the mindfulness techniques I learned at this conference was so enjoyable and rejuvenating,” said Davis, an attorney with Byrne, Davis & Hicks, PC, who concentrates on tax, estate planning, and corporate law. “Without a doubt, the techniques I learned at this conference will make me a happier and healthier person, both physically and mentally. I intend to fully incorporate them into my daily life.”
Browne also appreciated the candid stories shared by panel members and attendees about their own struggles of dealing with stress and the practice of law. She said, “I applaud the State Bar’s efforts to make emotional and physical health a priority to help attorneys deal with the everyday stressors of life and the practice of law in a positive and constructive way.”
“The State Bar hopes to make this an annual conference for lawyers,” said Scott. “It would also be great to create similar programming for law students.”