Wellness for Lawyers: How Technology Can Help
It’s been more than two long years since the onset of the pandemic, and although things seem to be slowly, steadily improving, we’re not yet in the clear. The stressors of living during this unpredictable time cannot be underestimated. Some have experienced COVID-related health scares both personally and within their close circles of family and friends. Others have endured constant low levels of stress brought on by the uncertain times in which we’ve had to exist.
For lawyers, managing stress can be challenging, and it’s not something many of us are very good at. That’s why this year’s Solo and Small Firm Conference at the Monroe County Bar Association focused on lawyer wellness, and the goal was to provide lawyers with strategies to help them address and reduce stress.
Recently, I spoke on a panel at that conference with Aleksander Nikolas and Jared Correia that focused on using IT tools for firm management and personal wellness. We each shared a variety of tips related to office productivity, wellness technology, and environmental changes that can be made to facilitate better mental and physical health.
Here are some of our top tips from each category. First, let’s tackle productivity. Jared emphasized the value of developing productivity systems and provided several different examples. The first is the OHIO method for email management, or “Only Handle It Once,” which means you either act on it, file it, or delete it. Other systemic solutions that he recommended considering are “Getting Things Done” (GTD), the Checklist Manifesto, the Pomodoro method, and Eat the Frog (do least desirable tasks first).
Other advice he offered related to technology choices and included going paperless and using document management tools, and taking advantage of time-tracking and calendaring tools to ensure productivity in your firm. Finally, he strongly suggested that lawyers learn to delegate, avoid multi-tasking, turn off email notifications, and set aside a specific time each day to review emails.
Next up was wellness technology, which was my category. I recommended that attendees check out several wellness mobile apps for meditation, including Calm, Headspace, and Stoic. I also explained how SmartWatches are an excellent tool for tracking and maintaining wellness since they typically include physical activity trackers, meditation, breathing and sleep-tracking apps, built-in features that protect hearing, and monitor and store other health-related data as well.
I also discussed the health-related benefits of Smart Assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. Using this technology, you can play relaxing music, launch meditation apps, and listen to sleep sounds, white noise, or positive affirmations such as my favorite, the Seneca daily quote.
Last but not least, Aleks discussed steps lawyers could take to improve their work environment. One of the topics he covered was office technology and equipment. He provided a list of resources that offer buying guides to assist in understanding the difference between marketing language and valuable features for technology products.
He recommended two sites for technology features and terminology explanations: https://www.newegg.com/insider/category/buying-guides/ and
To monitor buying information, he suggested this website:
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/monitor-buying-guide,5699.html. And for laptop purchases, he pointed lawyers to these websites:
He explained that if you’re in the market for new technology for your law office, those resources are a great place to start, but that you should always start your research by searching for updated guides since the latest models with new features are constantly being released.
At the close of the presentation, we emphasized that wellness results from the choices you make on a daily basis and that there’s no time like the present to start making better choices that lead to better health. With that, we ended our talk with this apropos Dr. Suess quote that’s worth mulling over: “Step with great care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.”
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase law practice management software for small law firms. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].