The secrets to success that most attorneys miss.

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Chronic stress, substance abuse, and depression are common career pitfalls for attorneys.  These can lead to burnout and malpractice, damaging an attorney’s health and career.

I’ve been a lawyer since 2005, and I’m still surprised by how many attorneys shrug their shoulders in defeat and accept this a matter of course.

“That’s just how it is. What can you do?”

Really, counselor?

If you were your client, would you accept that answer?

Here are two secrets to success that most attorneys miss:  value your own wellbeing, and select a team to help you perform at a high level over time. Continue reading “The secrets to success that most attorneys miss.”

Good news for lawyers and law students.

Last fall I recorded a talk on Sustainable Success, produced by Continuing Education of the Bar. It was directed at lawyers, who often wonder if being successful means having to give up their health, personal and family life. Given the high rates of substance abusedepression, and suicide within the profession, this is a real issue.

It is no accident that so many jurisdictions — including California — mandate continuing legal education on substance abuse and mental wellness. 

Unfortunately, the CA State Bar recently determined it did not meet the qualifications to be offered for CLE credit.

The good news is that CEB has decided to make it available free of charge.

So while I’m disappointed in the State Bar’s decision, I’m thrilled that CEB supports this program and is making Sustainable Success: Mindfulness for Lawyers even more accessible.

This is good news.

And there’s more.

Because ordinarily, these programs are only available to California attorneys — people with California State Bar numbers.

But my contact at CEB says that law students can also access the program for free. They just need to contact Customer Service: 800-232-3444 or 510-302-2000 or

So if you’re not a member of the California State Bar, and you want to check out this program, you can can. For free. Thanks to CEB’s commitment to supporting the legal community.

Here’s a link to the full program description on CEB’s website.

If there’s a law student or attorney in your life, share this with them. You never know what difference it could make.

better lawyer


Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Mindful goal setting.

Last year, when I decided to resign from my “safe” corporate job, I knew that I would need community and structure to help me move forward into my new life.  I’ve stumbled through enough clumsy transitions in my life to know that some kind of plan was critical for me — even if my plan was “no plan”, I still needed framework and feedback to thrive.  That’s why the timing was perfect for my InnerYoga teacher training.  It was 13-months of study and practice.  It was the perfect community and support system for me.

And now, as 2013 draws towards a close, I want to share more of what I know about mindful change.  Continue reading “Mindful goal setting.”

Let success go deep.

From time to time, it’s a good idea to ask yourself:  What does success look like?  What does it feel like?

Because the answers may change as you live and experience different flavors of success.  If you don’t check in with yourself, you could spend years of your life chasing an idea of success that you’ve outgrown.  Trying to make it fit.

And there are outside layers of success:  things people can see from your Facebook status or LinkedIn profile.  Your job title, where you live, your stuff, your vacations, all the conferences or parties you attend, or how perfect your relationship appears.

And that’s all cool.  Have that.

But also take time to become still and ask yourself how it feels underneath.  Does success live only on the surface of your life?  Or does it go deep? Continue reading “Let success go deep.”

See the world, see your self.

This post is about travel, but it starts by noting that I am the child of two amazing people.  My mother grew up in the Philippines, and it was a very long time before I realized that not everyone’s mother knew how to wield a machete.  (It is an excellent gardening tool, and there is nothing better for taking the top off a coconut, which she demonstrated with grace on a family vacation to Hawaii.) My father grew up in a very small town in the Midwest and joined the Peace Corps.  He coached athletes for international competition, traveled through Africa, Asia, and Europe, and read me Kipling and the Olympic creed when I was young. Continue reading “See the world, see your self.”

Be willing to see.

A year ago I had to renew my passport, so I went to the Walgreen’s near my office at lunch to get photos taken.  I remember feeling exhausted, but also happy because I was excited for my upcoming trip.  The photos came out and when I saw them, I didn’t recognize myself.  I looked terrible.  I looked beat down and tired.  My face looked. . . saggy and dim.  Was that really what I looked like?  I felt my cheeks burn, and paid for my photos and left.*

Back at the office, way up on the 26th floor where we had amazing views of the bay, I went to the restroom and looked in the mirror.  I really looked.   I saw bloodshot eyes, from staring too long at a screen.  I saw slumped shoulders.  A down-turned mouth.  I saw a spark in the eye, but it was dim.  Like an overcast sky.  I thought, This isn’t right.  I tried to smile.  It was grotesquely superficial and unconvincing. Continue reading “Be willing to see.”

Be a ninja.

I wanted to call this post “How to keep your inner chill when surrounded by crazy people,” but that felt too long and not quite the point I want to make.

I’m thinking about the Bar Exam.  Also certain family gatherings.  And occasional corporate town hall meetings.  Any time I felt like I was surrounded by people who were kinda crazy, and I was concerned about getting sucked down into the crazy with them. Continue reading “Be a ninja.”

It’s ok to update your dream.

I have a friend from law school.  She worked in Big Law, until the firm unexpectedly dissolved in that time when many traditional big firms unraveled.  Then she worked for a small firm, commuting an hour each way and figuring out child care while her husband finished his graduate degree in another city.

She told me, “I’m living the dream, Kim.  The only problem is:  it’s the wrong dream!”  The hours, the commute, the stress of work, the demands of being a parent and wife were wearing her down.  “I worked so hard to get here, and for what?  To never see my kid or husband?  To spend hours working with mean people?  It’s a joke.” Continue reading “It’s ok to update your dream.”

Take yourself on a date.

Take yourself out on a date.  Ask yourself who you are, how things are going, and what you desire.  Ask yourself how you feel.  Ask your body what it needs.  Then ask your heart.  Then ask your brain.  Ask your gut what it has to say.


There are many levels of your being, and they each have needs and opinions.  The brain is often the loudest.  It tends to bully or coerce.  “It just makes sense,” the brain says, “Be rational.  Do what I say.  I’m the smart one.” Continue reading “Take yourself on a date.”