Welcome to the Sunday night edition of FORWARD GC: from beginners’ guides to timely features, explore essays that make legal a little more understandable. Brought to you by friends at Lawtrades—a software company building legal infrastructure for data-driven legal teams.
How to thrive as a GC in a world rocked by Covid-19
2020 feels like it has lasted forever and yet somehow has offered no opportunities to get anything done, least of all for GCs. There’s legal work, the increased demands from coordinating your company’s Covid-19 response, parenting and homeschooling, and the consistent feeling of burnout.
Self-care is necessary. Especially for lawyers.
“The combination of remote working, social isolation, and ongoing financial insecurity (with little end in sight) is causing everyone to feel levels of stress that are palpable, and in some cases contributes to elevated levels of anxiety and depression,” Washington, D.C. clinical psychologist Tyger Latham said in a recent Law.com report. “But lawyers can be especially vulnerable to anxiety and depression (as well as substance abuse), so it would not surprise me if mental health issues are not widespread throughout the industry.”
Consultant Jarrett Green added, “This is the most mentally and emotionally challenged the legal industry has been that we’ve seen.”
🧘🏾♀️Competence During COVID
So how do you stay strong during these crazy times? Remember: it’s pretty much the job of a lawyer to stay strong. The rules of professional conduct state that lawyers must always maintain competence and manage crises for their clients.
We turned to a few GCs and attorneys to share some advice. Here are their tips:
Lose technology and manage distraction. Meredith Smith, the General Counsel at Stash, says she incorporates “makertime” – blocking off two or three hours of the day to work without distraction. And no distractions means turning off all electronic notifications.
Develop a mindfulness and meditation practice. Headspace Director of Legal Affairs Michael Marchand does his first meditation as soon as he gets out of the shower in the morning and has “mindful moments” at least ten times per day to increase awareness, blow off steam, and reduce stress.
Schedule self-care. According to Chris Ritter, director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, “Four percent of your life is about one hour per day. I know very few attorneys who are giving themselves an hour of self-care a day. It’s not going to happen until you put it on your calendar.”
Although 2020 is coming to an end in a few weeks (thankfully), the hard times may endure for at least another few months. Engaging in good habits now will help prevent anxiety, stress and depression from lasting after the pandemic.
The silver lining: We’re all in this together. And lawyers seem to be realizing that. Attorneys and consultants have noticed colleagues have stopped projecting that they have it all figured out -- and that they’re being met with open arms.
“The raising of our empathy consciousness in the industry,” professor and lawyer Rebecca Simon told Law.com, “is a wonderful thing and will have a lasting effect.”
Thanks for reading and see you next week.