Health and wellness at work are receiving increased attention, especially in the legal profession. At Georgia State Law, Charity Scott, has been implementing innovative student wellness programs. The Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law spoke about her work at a two-day symposium in January hosted by the University of California Hastings College of the Law entitled, “The Integrated Lawyer: A Symposium on Well-Being and the Practice of Law.”
“Our six-week mindfulness training is offered every fall semester,” said Scott. “Mindfulness practices provide healthy tools to law students for reducing anxiety, improving focus and promoting resilience.”
In her presentation, Scott also described the successful Wellness Wednesday series that she and Georgia State Law graduate Plamen Russev (JD ’03) hosted last year at the law school. The seven-week series, “From Busy to Balanced: Designing Your Life to Live it Well,” included interactive sessions, guest speakers and weekly photo challenges sponsored by student organizations that encouraged students to engage in healthy lifestyles.
The Hastings symposium was developed in response to the 2017 National Task Force Report on Lawyer Well-Being, which identified a health crisis in the legal profession and legal education with high rates of stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addiction. The symposium was co-hosted by UC Hastings’s Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.
“The intersection between dispute resolution and well-being is an exciting nexus that provides opportunities for amplifying concepts familiar to dispute resolution professionals through a broader lens,” said Debra Gerardi, lecturer in law with the Dispute Resolution Center and co-chair for the UC Hastings Student Wellness & Wellbeing Workgroup.
Gerardi added, “The opportunity to positively impact the well-being of colleagues, clients and society has always been embedded in our dispute resolution work. Emphasis on mindfulness, peace-making, community building, collaborative engagement and healing have been ever-present threads in the dispute resolution field for decades.”
Scott works at the intersection of these fields.
“The National Report was a wake-up for both legal employers and law schools,” said Scott. “There is a real opportunity for Georgia State Law to become a leader among law schools in attending to the health and well-being of its students.”
The student Wellness in Law Society also promotes programming to help law students to integrate their school, work and personal lives in healthy ways.
Scott noted, “Students benefit from resources that help them early to reduce stress, manage priorities and learn healthy coping strategies to navigate the inevitable stressors of being in law school and later in law practice.”
Scott currently teaches dispute resolution courses on negotiation and mediation, speaks and writes on conflict resolution in health care, and has been offering mindfulness training at the College of Law since 2015.