IWIL Catalyst – August 2023

  • Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and the Inner Critic
    Scott Rogers, MS, JD


For more than two decades, the legal profession has been exploring the potential role mindfulness practices can play in the law. A popular shorthand for mindfulness is “non-judgmental awareness,” meaning the stronger our mindfulness the less likely we are to be judgmental toward others (and ourselves).

Scott Rogers, MS, JD, is a nationally recognized leader in the area of mindfulness in law and founder and director of the University of Miami School of Law’s Mindfulness in Law Program where he teaches mindfulness in law, mindfulness and negotiation, mindful ethics, and mindfulness and motivating business compliance. He has published widely in the area of mindfulness and co-authored numbers of peer-reviewed neuroscience research articles on the efficacy of mindfulness practice in high stress, high consequence professions. For the past 25 years Professor Rogers has conducted workshops and presentations on the role of mindfulness in legal education and across the legal profession. He is author of the recently released, “The Mindful Law Student: A Mindfulness in Law Practice Guide,” written for all legal professionals.

  • Being Visibly Invisible: How Legal Professionals From Marginalized Communities Uniquely Experience Workplace Loneliness
    Kaisar Perry (they/them)


The mental burden and negative impacts of day-to-day challenges are often ignored, and in the wake of a global pandemic that highlighted these mental health challenges, legal industry leaders are searching for the best ways to balance well-being with productivity. Now more than ever, we cannot ignore the impacts of loneliness on our mental and physical health. We must engage in a national effort to confront the epidemic of societal loneliness if we are to ever overcome the national loneliness epidemic

Kaisar is an aspiring social movement lawyer who is dedicated to transforming the United States mental health care system, making it more accessible towards people from marginalized communities. To this aim, they are currently studying Psychology as well as Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College. Besides writing, Kaisar enjoys playing piano, crocheting, exploring the NH wilderness, and meeting new people.

  • Ten Key Takeaways from the Surgeon General’s Report on the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation
    By Jessie Spressart, M.Litt, M.A., Managing Director of Optia Consulting


In May 2023, the Surgeon General’s report sounded the alarm on the epidemic of loneliness plaguing our society and contributing to a decline in our mental health and well-being. Lawyers, law students, and others in the legal industry are particularly susceptible to the adverse outcomes of disconnection. To understand the report’s important findings and how we can work to combat social isolation and loneliness in our firms and schools, read Jessie Spressart’s “Ten Key Takeaways from the Surgeon General’s Report on the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”

Jessie Spressart is Managing Director of Optia Consulting. Optia provides consulting and training on management and leadership skills, and mental health and well-being in the workplace.

Jessie brings over eighteen years of experience in law firm professional development to her coaching and consulting practice. Prior to founding Optia, Jessie spent over a decade building the professional development department at a law firm in Washington DC.

Jessie is a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid, is an ICF-accredited executive coach and holds Master’s degrees from Fordham University and St. Andrews University.

Are you interested in presenting at the 2024 (January 23-25) IWIL Virtual Conference? This is your chance to submit your presentation proposal. There are four separate tracks:

  • Individual well-being
  • Workplace well-being (for people who are working on building workplace well-being at an organizational level in the legal profession)
  • Law school well-being (for people who are working on building well-being in law schools)
  • Well-being on the state and local level (for people who are working on building well-being on the state and local level)

To review proposal criteria and submit your presentation for consideration, click here

Deadline for submissions is August 18, 2023.

Being Visibly Invisible: How do legal professionals from marginalized communities uniquely experience workplace loneliness? By Kaisar Perry, Institute for Well-Being In Law Intern.

The nation’s perspective on well-being in the workplace is rapidly changing. Evidencing this change, the Surgeon General published a public advisory on the importance of social connection and community strength in the battle against America’s “epidemic of loneliness.” Following this public turn towards our nation’s overwhelming loneliness, workplaces across the professional spectrum are looking to do their part to stave off risk factors towards employee well-being. As we progress towards a social climate that prioritizes worker mental health, the legal profession in particular must take specific care to both address the unique stressors faced by law’s practitioners, and ensure that marginalized people experience relief from the overarching prejudice that further sabotages their opportunities for meaningful workplace integration. Conscious of this delicate line to tread, Perry suggests five action-oriented steps towards ensuring that historically subjugated individuals are included in your workplace’s trajectory towards heightened well-being.

Ours is a demanding profession of anticipating problems, engaging in adversarial contests, managing intense workloads, and striving for perfection.  Our inner critic can be relentless to ensure we succeed or not “fail.”  Our thoughts contribute mightily to the quality of our wellbeing. When the inner critic is quiet or generous, we feel good. When harsh and unforgiving, we suffer.

In “Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and the Inner Critic,”  

Scott Rogers, a leader in mindfulness and the law, author, and professor, explains how becoming more self-aware of the inner critic can free us from its painful messaging.

In May 2023, the Surgeon General’s report sounded the alarm on the epidemic of loneliness plaguing our society and contributing to a decline in our mental health and well-being. Lawyers, law students, and others in the legal industry are particularly susceptible to the adverse outcomes of disconnection. To understand the report’s important findings and how we can work to combat social isolation and loneliness in our firms and schools, read Jessie Spressart’s “Ten Key Takeaways from the Surgeon General’s Report on the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” 


APA calls for removal of mental health questions on applications to practice law.  American Psychological Association, August 2023. >> Link.  The APA’s governing council approved a policy to work with the ABA and state bar associations to remove mental health questions from the character and fitness portion of bar applications.

Wellness in the Legal Profession. University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, June 11, 2023. >> Link. Following the ABA’s 2017 report on wellness within the legal world, Carey Law School kicked into gear, implementing a robust and trailblazing wellness curriculum and Clinton/Parker Wellness Suite. With a community-oriented approach that amplifies the lived experiences of community members, Carey Law School continues, now five years later, to advocate for legal culture change.

ANALYSIS: Lawyer Work-From-Home Options Decrease During Endemic. By Jessica R. Blaemire, Bloomberg Law, July 6, 2023. >> Link. In this article, Blaemire identifies the current state of the legal world wherein firms across the country are implementing punitive, return-to-office requirements, consequently yielding incentive for legal professionals to change workplaces.

The Mindfulness in Law Movement with Dr. Nehal Patel. By Molly Ranns, JoAnn Hathaway, and Nehal Patel, Legal Talk Network, June 10, 2023. >> Link. To promote well-being within the legal profession, hosts Ranns and Hathaway speak with sociologist Patel about the importance of mindfulness in maintaining presence between rumination and worry. Through mindfulness, Patel believes that the legal profession can become the loving peacemaker it was always intended to be.


Are You a “Well” Being?. By Leah Marone, Psychology Today, July 7, 2023. >> Link. In her article, Marone discusses the role that ‘being well’ should take in our day-to-day lives, advocating for the concerted effort to take specific and regular actions to better collaborate with your own self. By succinctly describing best practice from decades of psychotherapeutic work, Marone makes clear that ‘well-being’ is not a one-and-done afternoon activity, but rather an essential part of a fulfilling lifestyle.

Employee well-being is so critical to some organizations that they’re turning it into a new C-suite role. By Trey Williams, Yahoo! Finance, July 5, 2023. >> Link. In identifying how the pandemic spurred national attention towards the deteriorating mental health of our professional populations, Williams contextualizes the budding ‘Chief Wellness Officer’ position as a necessary start to what will need to become a holistic refiguring of the professional sphere’s relation to the social.

The Unmind Blueprint: A scientific approach to wellbeing strategy. By Naomi Lucking, Unmind, July 4, 2023. >> Link. In this article, Lucking makes clear the importance of having a well-being strategy for organizational productivity and return on investment. Proposing a specific model for such a strategy, Lucking recommends the Unmind Blueprint toolkit.

10 Strategies to Conquer Anxiety After Failure. By Marwa Azab, Psychology Today, July 10, 2023. >> Link. By placing failing as a necessary step on the path towards eventual success, Azrab encourages readers to embrace their potential for growth, providing ten research-backed strategies for bouncing back.

That salad isn’t just good for your nutrition–it may help stave off depression. By Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association, Vol. 54, No. 4, June 1, 2023. >> Link. In this Continuing Education article, DeAngelis presents a wide range of research in a digestible manner regarding the topic of how food affects emotional health. While more research needs to be done, eating whole foods (as opposed to processed or ultra processed) has been linked with decreased severity for ADHD and depression symptoms.

2023 Work in America Survey. American Psychological Association, Conducted April 17th to 27th, 2023. >> Link. The APA’s comprehensive 2023 Work in America Survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of Americans value an emphasis on employee well-being within the organizations that they work for. Despite this overwhelming majority, however, the results also show that many current organizations are far from meeting employee expectations in terms of community, growth opportunity, flexibility, and protection from harm/discrimination.

The PERMA+4 Framework: A new approach to well-being at work. By Llewellyn E. van Zyl, Psychology Today, July 26, 2023. >> Link. Building off of Seligman’s useful ‘PERMA’ model from 2018, van Zyl presents research that he and his team conducted, leading to the ‘PERMA +4’ model. The PERMA +4 model takes Seligman’s emphasis on Positive emotions, Engagement, positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments for employee well-being, and adds four new elements: physical Health, Growth mindset, Work environment, and workplace Security.

The Importance of Fostering Well-Being and Transformation According to Dr. Terry McIvor. Yahoo! Finance. July 17, 2023. >> Link. Providing an evidence-backed emphasis on the importance of employee well-being to reducing worker absenteeism and turnover, this article describes and promotes wellness programs developed by Dr. Mclvor.

How Taking a Vacation Improves Your Well-Being. By Rebecca Zucker, Harvard Business Reviews, July 19th, 2023. >> Link. While taking care to be realistic in her touting of vacation time, Zucker succinctly provides a wealth of research on productivity to convey the benefits that taking time off can have on the body, mind, and soul, empowering workers to better show up for themselves and their workplaces.

Biden pledges ‘mental health care is health care’ with new rule ensuring mental health parity in insurance coverage. By Donald Judd, the Cable News Network, July 25, 2023. >> Link. On July 25th, President Biden proposed a rule for the Federal Register that would close off a loophole which insurance companies have been using to get around the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Further evidencing a national shift towards recognizing the importance of mental health, this rule is set to boost mental health care for 90,000 Americans, placing mental health of equal priority to physical health.

Reed Smith Virtual Law Student Mental Health Summit

Thursday, October 12, 2023

9:00 AM ET-3:00 PM ET

ABA Well-Being Pledge Fall Workshop

The ABA CoLAP Well-Being Pledge Committee has set the date for this year’s fall workshop: 

Thursday, November 9, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Please save the date! More details on the specific program schedule are forthcoming, but this fall workshop will be a special event to celebrate the Five-Year Anniversary of the Pledge! Watch for more information.

IWIL Law School Programming 

Throughout the 2023-24 Academic Year 

IWIL Conference

January 23-25, 2024

Well-Being Week in the Law 2024 

May 6-10, 2024 

August marks the end of summer and the return to school (depending on where you live). Vacations were hopefully taken and enjoyed, and students and employees feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You may have even picked up a few new well-being practices to support your commitment to yourself. On the IWIL side, we are gearing up for our January virtual conference. I encourage you to submit a proposal and save the dates (January 23-25,2024).

Follow us on LinkedIn where we’ll provide more information and resources all month long.

Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter  YouTube

Special thanks to our principal donors:

Inaugural Founding Champions 

Crowell & Moring LLP

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

Latham & Watkins, LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Reed Smith LLP

Founding Champions

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Thomson Reuters

Master of Well-Being

Covington & Burling, LLP

 Goodwin Procter LLP

Well-Being Star

Husch Blackwell