Lawyers are on my mind and in my heart today. I was in law school when a light-bulb went off for me about praying. I went to a Jesuit university, though I’m not Catholic and wasn’t raised in church. Praying wasn’t part of my regular life. But working as an extern for a Federal District Court judge, I read a lot of motions. I often came upon this phrase: prayer for relief.
And I realized: Oh! To pray means to ask.
A prayer for relief is when an attorney asks the court to do something to fix the problem for her client: asking for money to repair the damage, or asking the court to make someone stop doing something (an injunction). And the other kind of praying, the kind from church, that’s also really a kind of asking. It’s asking a higher power to do something. And it carries a certain sincerity, formality and respect.
So prayer, for me, became less about a religious point of view and more about being humble and gracious while acknowledging a need for assistance.
And it’s a bit ironic that lawyers, in the course of their job, can pray for relief with great conviction on behalf of their clients. Yet at the same time fail to take care of themselves. They forget to advocate for their own well-being.
I send a prayer for their relief.
I want to tell them:
Years of practicing under pressure, scanning the horizon for any possible threat, being steeped in conflict can make you forget how to take care of the person you are inside.
Relationships and health begin to deteriorate, and you get that sense of foreboding because you’ve seen it happen to others and swore it would be different for you.
You are smart, yet you’ve forgotten. You’ve worked so hard for so long. What next? Is it time to leave the legal profession? Is that even possible? Or is there a way to be a lawyer that doesn’t suck the life out of you? How can you possibly have enough energy for your work, your family, and yourself?
I became a lawyer, and am glad I did. Even though I chose an alternate career path. My years of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and teaching willPower & grace®. . . feels like I’ve got a giant First Aid kit for lawyers in my hands. I pray for their relief from stress, anxiety and the feeling of being smooshed or confined by their work.
Many people end up feeling trapped inside this profession: it’s like an armor they’ve forgotten how to take off.
I may be able to help get you out of that armor: help you remember how to set down your burden, wash off the muck, connect with your loved ones, and breathe easy. Enjoy the life you’ve worked so hard for.
If any of this strikes a chord, I want you to know you’re not alone. I invite you to get in touch.
If you’re in the Bay Area you can hear me talk about this on April 13th at Catapult 2013: Tools for a 21st Century Legal Career. I’ll be leading a breakout session on meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and self-care strategies for lawyers.
Life is short. Be curious. Savor all of it.