Earlier this month Clarissa Rayward, Director of the Brisbane Family Law Centre aka 'The Happy Family Lawyer' joined us virtually for our wellness webinar series to discuss the five key elements lawyers need to successfully manage and build a fulfilling career in law and life outside of it.
If you missed the live webinar, no problem, we have summarised the key elements below. Or if you would like to relive it, you can check out the full recording on-demand here.
The 5 Habits of a 'Happy Lawyer' :
Unhappiness in the legal profession is rife. The incidence of mental health problems among lawyers is two to three times that within the general population. For those practising law, we should be looking for ways to ensure that our careers allow us to enjoy a happy life.
To better understand the concept of happiness, Clarissa has conducted extensive research on the topic. Initially to understand her own wellbeing, but later all that work led to her writing the book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’.
In writing her book, Clarissa spoke with many lawyers and spent hours reading, learning and researching happiness. She has concluded that there are five key attributes found in lawyers that consider themselves as happy or have found happiness, both in their careers and in their personal lives.
To make it easy, Clarissa turned them into the ‘H.A.P.P.Y.’ acronym. So here you have it:
1) 'H' is for Health
When it comes to happy lawyers, they are healthy. They may not be able to run a marathon (although some of them can), but they are healthy and looking after their health is a top priority. Without our health, it is so hard to find happiness. Many of us take our health for granted. But as the years go on, we quickly discover that to live a fulfilling life - we need our bodies to be functioning in the best possible way.
To be healthy, we need to eat well, exercise and of course sleep. While this advice may sound like one of those annoying TV commercials, too many of us forget these basics when it comes to leading our busy legal lives.
The traditional practice of law does not sit well with a healthy lifestyle. Working 16-hour days tied to a desk and computer does not leave much room for healthy eating, regular movement, or the necessary sleep for optimal brain function. And yet, we work in a ‘thinking’ career where a high performing brain is essential. So, unless we can get our health right, we really can’t be operating at our full potential and will struggle to secure happiness.
2) 'A' is for Attitude
A happy lawyer has a positive, mindful and ‘glass half full’ attitude (most of the time). They have the capacity to see the good in most situations, are grateful for the opportunities their career has given them and are mindful- living in the moment and enjoying life for what it is. Even in the difficult times, they see the good in the bad, practice kindness, empathy, and gratitude, all of which neuroscience has shown has a significant and positive impact on our happiness.
3) 'P' is for Passion
The third habit of happy lawyers is passion. Most are passionate about law or their legal career in some way, shape, or form. But perhaps more importantly, they have passions that sit outside of their work. Whether it is running, swimming, music, art, reading, walking or just being in nature- happy lawyers have passions that they pursue every single day.
4) 'P' is for Purpose
A happy lawyer has a clear and well-defined purpose. Many lawyers find their purpose in the ability to make a difference, or to have a positive impact on the lives of those around them. Their purpose is bigger than the mere practice of law. Chances are those happy lawyers could have pursued many different career paths, but law is the tool that they have chosen to use to pursue their purpose. Happy lawyers who are clear on their purpose have found a way to explore it in every aspect of their careers. They keep things in perspective and can recognise the difference they are making, even when it seems to be buried under tasks. The difference might be small and sometimes it might be huge. But, either way, these happy lawyers are clear that they are making a difference in the lives of others.
5) 'Y' is for You
Clarissa concluded that the happiest lawyers have found a way to be authentically themselves in their practice of law. Whether it is a love of music, family, kindness, empathy, mindfulness, or deep intellectual challenge- those happy lawyers bring the whole of themselves to all that they do in life and in law. They are one whole person whether they are at work, at home, with their family, friends, or colleagues- they are just tapping into different parts of themselves in different amounts depending on their day.
Clarissa Rayward is a Divorce Lawyer and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. Over the past 14 years, Clarissa has worked with thousands of families during separation and divorce. She specialises in assisting her clients to experience a dignified divorce - staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future. Clarissa tackles the challenging issue of unhappiness in the legal profession through her writing and weekly Podcast ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ where she interviews lawyers who have found a way to maintain a successful career in the law while not giving up their life outside of their career.