This June, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop in Maryland presented by Stewart L. Levine highlighting key themes from his 2018 book, The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness. Stewart is the editor and curator of the book, which was published by the American Bar Association’s Law Division Practice. His excellent presentation sold me on ordering the book, which was delivered to me in a few days for a total cost of under $40. The book can be ordered as a paperback or e-book on the American Bar Association website, or as a paperback for a few more dollars on Amazon. It is money well spent!
The book is 288 pages long and it is organized into 27 chapters, with an afterword by my longtime colleague and friend, Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. of Baltimore. Prominent professors, lawyers, commentators, and practitioners address a variety of aspects of wellness and of being a lawyer from a 360-degree perspective.
This is not a book about how to win more cases or how to improve specific technical or soft skills. However, social science research indicates that if certain habits and best practices surrounding wellness are integrated into a lawyer’s daily life, then he or she can more effectively represent their clients.
The book is subdivided into three parts: Self-Awareness; Self-Management; and Engagement.
Some of the contributors for the Self-Awareness section of Stewart’s book include Elizabeth Bader, Professor Nathalie Martin, Anne Brafford, Esq., Mapp, and Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP. These chapters cover subjects such as mindfulness, spirituality, teamwork, and lawyer wellness.
The Self-Management section of the book addresses some of the business aspects of working as a lawyer. Chapters include contributions by Rachelle J. Canter, PhD., Edward Poll, JD, MBA, CMC, Eva Selhub, MD, and Martha Knudson, JD, MAPP.
There are ten chapters in the final Engagement part of the book. These chapters cover subjects like volunteerism, pro bono legal work, and diversity and inclusions initiatives. They include contributions by Dean Joan R. M. Bullock, Julia LaEace, Esq., William Gibson, Esq., and Linda Alvarez, Esq., among others.
An example of the content that you might expect to find in the book is in Chapter 1 by Larry Krieger, who has studied the well-being of lawyers extensively. He conducted a recent in-depth survey of over 6000 lawyers, which concluded that the usual markers of success—money, status, and outperforming others, did not consistently produce happy lawyers. Attorney income ranked 7th after autonomy, relatedness, competence, internal motivation, autonomy support, and intrinsic values. Human factors, rather than traditional concepts of success, have been shown to drive happiness. Similar findings have resulted from numerous other researchers and attorneys, including Randall Kiser.
The afterword of The Best Lawyer You Can Be, which explores the Relational Mindset, is also an excellent read. I’ll be exploring this mindset further with an example from my own practice in my next blog post, so stay tuned.
Stewart Levine’s book may indeed help you become the best lawyer that you can be, as it provides invaluable wisdom from some of the sharpest minds in the legal world, confirmation and refinement of best practices, and advice and tactics to enhance your professional and personal development.