In the face of a world-wide crisis and unprecedented uncertainty, panic and fear are the true pandemic. And as advisors we are asked to put our own problems on the back burner and focus on those of our clients. However, we must ask certain crucial questions before we become a casualty of an unforeseen warfare, that of the health and well-being of those in our profession.
As attorneys, are we allowed to feel as if we are on the front lines when a crisis hits, even though we are not on the ground as first responders? Are we given permission to feel the weight of the trauma that we see, hear and feel daily from our clients when tragedy strikes? Who gives us this permission? Our profession? Society? Ourselves?
I would argue that we cannot wait for someone to give us permission to feel the weight of our clients’ pain and suffering. I would argue that we must not only give ourselves permission to feel the impact of what it feels to be constantly fielding “doomsday” phone calls from clients and helping them work through worst-case vs. less-worst case scenarios, but we must proactively put structures and boundaries in place to protect against what is known as compound trauma and compassion fatigue. Unless we do this the writing is on the wall, we will be headed for a professional burnout of epic proportions.
Learn more about the burnout and resiliency expert Alicia Journey by using the links below to register to attend her sessions via Zoom:
I know firsthand what it is like to be on the front lines when crisis hits. In January of 2018, after having been displaced for over a month due to wildfires in Montecito, CA with my two children, we lost our home in a mudslide. I was working for a national litigation firm that specialized in wildfire cases at the time. Just before the mudslide, my children and I had received the all clear to come back home and we were trying to settle back into a sense of normalcy before school started back up. On January 8, 2018, they said it was going to rain, and it was a voluntary evacuation. I decided to stay because I was exhausted from being gone for over a month, but I left our car packed up with all of our valuables and Christmas presents just in case. At 3:30 a.m. on January 9, 2018, everything changed in an instant. A mudslide ripped through Montecito, CA and 23 lives were lost, thousands of homes were destroyed, and a community was changed forever. For my kids and I, our vehicle and everything we owned was washed out into the ocean, I nearly lost my life, our home was uninhabitable, but we were thankful to be alive due to search and rescue.
The lessons in this were many for me, but as it pertains to what we are currently facing as professionals in the midst of crisis, these lessons came after as I attempted to jump right back into helping clients after we had quite literally lost everything. I organized fundraisers for businesses who were in danger of going under. I listened to clients who had lost their homes and loved ones. I just tried to power through like I always had, and the trauma caught up to me. It made me sick physically. I could barely get off the couch after a few months from exhaustion. My depression and anxiety were so bad I could barely function. My only option was to take a sabbatical from the law in order to focus on recovering and to work on healing.
In that process, I learned that pushing through is not the answer. There is power in the pause. When we learn tools and techniques for processing the emotions that we ourselves are going through in the midst of crisis, in addition to those of our clients, we make room for mutual healing. In addition, it allows us to be much wiser counselors in the process. Emotions are not weaknesses; they are what make us human. When we respect them, they allow us the wisdom to know what our body needs in order to heal itself.
https://ncbarblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Blog-Header-1-1030x530.png00NCBA Bloggerhttps://ncbarblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Blog-Header-1-1030x530.pngNCBA Blogger2020-04-06 16:06:392020-04-07 12:01:56Wednesday Wellness Sessions: Transforming the Way Attorneys Treat Themselves, Their Clients and the Law