Holiday Stress

You may feel there’s nothing you can do about stress.
The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more
hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities
will always be demanding. However, you have more
control over stress than you might think. No matter how
stressful your life seems, you can take steps to relieve
the pressure and regain balance.

Sage words from the March 2017 issue of InSight. Since the holidays can be an especially stressful time, consider taking a time out to evaluate how the four stress management strategies discussed in this article might work for you.

  • Download the “Stress Relief Toolbox” provided by the authors.  As they suggest, it’s not a bad idea to use one of these tools every day.  Don’t wait for stress to build up.
  • If you’re a list-maker, using the “Stress Management Self-Help Checklist” may appeal to you.  It’s a good way to stay on track and remind yourself of the importance of managing stress as part of your overall health.
  • Last, but not least: if you’re trying to get a handle on the stressors in your life, consider keeping a “Stress Journal.”

For specific advice on how to cope with holiday expectations and holiday-related stress, review these articles from the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program:

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis

Coping with Mistakes

Mistakes happen.  The practice of law is complex, clients don’t always follow through as directed, and sometimes we commit errors.

The emotion of being caught up in a legal malpractice claim can be overwhelming:

A significant measure of a person is not whether he or she avoids trouble, but how he or she meets it when they find each other…. I have developed immense respect for many of our covered parties, not because of their perfection as lawyers (they weren’t perfect), but because of how they coped with the claim.
Bruce Schafer, PLF Director of Claims – Parting Thoughts: Lawyers are like other people.

Help is here if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed

Take this advice from the Professional Liability Fund:

We recognize that having a legal malpractice claim filed against you is often very upsetting. Lawyers react in many different ways, including anger, loss of confidence, anxiety, avoidance, and inability to focus.  If you would like assistance coping with the stress or other challenges associated with a legal malpractice claim, the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program offers free and confidential support and assistance. Information you provide to OAAP Attorney Counselors is not shared with the PLF Claims staff, your defense counsel, or any other person. In fact, no information is disclosed to any person, agency, or organization outside the OAAP without your consent. For free and completely confidential assistance call 503.226.1057 or 1.800.321.6227 (OAAP).  NOTE:  We ask that you do not discuss the facts or merits of the case with anyone other than the PLF, defense counsel, or others with whom you maintain a legally confidential relationship.

Putting claims into context

One of the most important roles we fulfill at the PLF or OAAP is helping you put a claim in context:

  • You are not alone.  The PLF receives approximately one claim for every nine lawyers it covers.  More than 80% of lawyers in practice 20 years or more have had a claim.
  • Having a strong reaction to an allegation of malpractice is very common.
  • There is never a downside to contacting the PLF or OAAP.  Our services are confidential and we are here to help.
  • The PLF has two claims attorneys on call every day to talk to Oregon lawyers. You should contact the PLF if you are served with a summons and/or complaint; you are concerned that you may have made a mistake; a client indicates that you have made a mistake; someone threatens you with a claim or makes a demand for damages against you; you receive a subpoena, or someone requests information, documentation, and/or testimony about your representation of a client.  Call the PLF even if you are concerned that the claim may not be covered.
  • At least one Attorney Counselor is on call daily at the OAAP office.  The OAAP is available to assist with any issue that affects the ability of a lawyer to function effectively.
  • The PLF has four practice management advisors on staff who are available to help you take action and constructively move forward with office system improvements.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

4 Ways Lawyers Can Be Happier People

What tools do lawyers have in their toolbox to reduce stress and promote happiness?

On NW Sidebar attorney Kristina Larry offers up her top four secrets to happiness in the legal profession:

  • Do some good
  • Rethink billing
  • Strike out on your own
  • Care for yourself

Helping Others

Adding more to your plate is not, at first blush, the most appealing solution to feeling stressed.  But Larry makes some good points in her article, key among them: “Pro bono cases offer a chance to get away from what you normally do and you’ll get the chance to truly help someone, which can be very rewarding.”

If volunteering is a viable option for you, learn more about pro bono opportunities here.  Another choice is to channel volunteering efforts toward the profession.  The Oregon State Bar and other groups have many such opportunities, but the most diverse might be those offered through the Multnomah Bar Association.

Ditching the Hourly Ball and Chain

As a stress management tool, I couldn’t agree more.

Because deviating from the strict hourly billing model begins with writing a hybrid fee agreement, check out The Five C’s of Hybrid Fee Agreements.  From there, Google “alternative billing practices for lawyers” or “alternative fee arrangements” to find the many blog posts and articles on this topic.

Time to Transition to Solo Practice?

If working in a firm isn’t a good fit for you, solo practice may be.  How can you explore the pros and cons of sole proprietorship?

OAAP and PMA services are free and confidential.

Caring for Yourself

Taking care of yourself is BIG piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing stress. The OAAP provides free, confidential one-on-one help to all Oregon lawyers and law students.

Self care is also addressed in the CLEs listed below.  These programs are completely FREE to Oregon lawyers.  Locate one or more of these CLEs by selecting CLE > Past CLE on the PLF website.

  • Riding the Waves of Life in the Law
  • Strategies for Balancing Work and the Rest of Your Life
  • Stress Hardiness for Lawyers and Judges
  • Taking Care of Ourselves (While We’re Busy Taking Care of Others)
  • Transitions: Challenge or Opportunity?
  • What Lawyers and Judges need to Know About COMPASSION FATIGUE and the Strategies to Prevent It
  • Work and Worth: Navigating Your Way in the Profession

Sometimes stress can be traced to other issues going on in a lawyer’s life – struggling with student loans or debt, technology overtaking our lives, feelings of being overwhelmed by work/lack of organization, or family pressures.  CLE resources are available on these topics as well:

CLEs Relating to Student Loans, Debt, or Money Issues

  • Money Matters
  • Navigating Student Loan Repayment Options

CLEs Relating to Technology Over-Consumption and Organization

  • Legal Productivity: Responsible Connectivity – How NOT to Be Consumed by Technology
  • Leveraging Technology to Effectively Manage Your Law Practice
  • Reducing the Pressure
  • Road to Office Organization Series

CLEs Relating to Family Pressures

  • Enjoying Parenting
  • Gambling: A Family Matter
  • Kids and Drugs: What Parents Need to Know
  • Meeting the Needs of Aging Parents
  • What Can You Do When Someone In Your Family Experiences Depression, Anxiety, or other Health Issues

Final Thoughts about Happiness and Stress Management

Don’t overlook humor as a stress-fighting tool:

Research shows that laughter makes people happier, healthier, and more successful. Humor is also a neglected workplace tool. It diffuses tension, builds
rapport, and motivates workers. Humor wields enormous positive influence over people, making them feel more relaxed and comfortable. Humor Your Way to Happiness,Health, and Success.

Take stress hardiness seriously.  It is possible to become more resilient through the three C’s: challenge, commitment, and control.  These concepts are at the core of the Stress Hardiness CLE referenced above, and you can learn more by ordering this free program from the PLF website.  For an overview, see Building Stress Hardiness and check out the many other articles written about stress, available on the OAAP website.  On the In Sight page, select the link to view an index of articles from previous issues, then search the PDF for articles related to “stress” or “happiness.”

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

Kick-Start Your New Year

new year.jpgIf you are among the 45% who typically make a New Year’s Resolution, I genuinely wish you the best of luck.

If your goals for 2013 include any of the following:

  • Reducing your stress level
  • Improving your office routines
  • Increasing productivity
  • Streamlining office systems
  • Balancing the demands of work and home

then resolve to get a head start by “spring cleaning” your office systems and work habits.  Remember, you can always contact the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program if you are feeling overwhelmed.  The OAAP can give you guidance on how to develop your own stress management program using deep relaxation, meditation, time management, and other proven stress-reducing techniques.  Best of all, OAAP services are free and confidential.  Similarly, the Professional Liability Fund Practice Management Advisors provide free and confidential assistance with office systems.  Give us a call!  800-452-1639 Toll-Free in Oregon or 503-639-6911.

Welcome to the New OAAP Web Site

We are proud to announce a new and improved Oregon Attorney Assistance Program Web site:

The new site offers improved navigation, quick links to our Attorney Counselors, and new content for judges and law students.

The OAAP is a confidential service providing assistance with and referral for Problem Alcohol, Drug, and/or Substance Use; Stress Management; Time Management; Career Transition; Compulsive Disorders (including problem gambling); Relationships; Depression; Anxiety; and other issues.  Learn more about the OAAP here.