IWIL Catalyst – June 2023

  • Mindfulness for Lawyers Cannot Begin Too Early
    By Heather J. E. Simmons



Think back to law school, and the day you personally experienced Socratic method for the first time. That moment of total panic when you hear the professor call your name,  and realize that the moment you have been dreading has arrived.

Heather J. E. Simmons is the Associate Director for Instruction and Access Services at the University of Georgia School of Law Library. She earned her J.D. from Wayne State University and her Master of Library Science from the University of Michigan. An emeritus member of the Michigan Bar, she has previously held positions at the University of Illinois College of Law, Wayne State University Law School, and General Motors. She became a certified Koru Mindfulness teacher in 2021 and is working to form a Georgia Chapter of the Mindfulness in Law Society.

“In my ABA Student Lawyer article, Mindfulness for Cold Calling: Rite of Passage or a Form of Torture?, I describe the following alternative: Step 1. Plant your feet firmly on the floor; Step 2. Sit up straight; Step 3. Take one deep breath; Step 4. Now restate the question. These steps could easily be modified to work in court when the judge asks a challenging question.”

To find out more about how mindfulness can help you, and meet other attorneys who have incorporated contemplative practices into their work, visit the Mindfulness in Law Society website.

  • The Catalyst of Well-being and Workplace Efficiency: The Power of Exercise
    By Matthew S. Thiese, PhD, MSPH


Physical activity, often relegated to the domain of physical health alone, actually possesses potent implications for mental wellness and workplace outcomes. This article explores the multifaceted benefits of exercise, providing insight into its role in reducing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and burnout; its positive impact on workplace performance and satisfaction; and, in this printable handout, 10 tips for practical, evidence-based methods for promoting physical activity in the workplace.



Matthew S. Thiese, PhD, MSPH has extensive experience in designing and conducting epidemiologic and interventional research. His research focuses on the overlap between a person’s job and their health, including everything from musculoskeletal disorders like Low Back Pain or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, to motor vehicle crashes, to COVID-19, to mental well-being. His research seeks to identify potential risk factors, interventions to prevent injury or illness, evidence-based practice for both treatment and prevention, and assessments of worker health and safety fitness-for-duty. Dr. Thiese currently is conducting research in several different areas of mental health and mental fitness in the law profession.

Dr. Thiese’s graduate degrees are in Public Health, specifically Occupational Epidemiology and Injury Prevention. He is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine and has co-authored numerous articles. He also serves on the board for the Institute for Well-Being in Law as the Vice-President for Research and Scholarship.

The conference will be all virtual. Keep a look out for the request for proposals for conference speakers, which will go out soon!

The Catalyst of Well-being and Workplace Efficiency: The Power of Exercise by Matthew S. Thiese, PhD, MSPH

Emerging research paints a compelling picture of exercise as a potent tool for enhancing mental well-being, reducing the risk of substance abuse, boosting productivity, building resilience, and fostering job satisfaction.  The positive impacts of exercise on workplace outcomes are profound and include reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, boosting cognitive function, and enhancing attention, memory, and problem-solving skills, which are critical for high performance and productivity in the workplace.  IWIL VP of Research, Matthew S. Thiese,  PhD, MSPH, walks us through the research and findings in The Catalyst of Well-being and Workplace Efficiency: The Power of Exercise, offering 10 tips for practical, evidence-based methods for promoting physical activity in the workplace.


Actionable Steps for Balancing Well-Being and Legal Success by IWIL Immediate Past President Bree Buchanan, Jamie Moore, and Christine Bilbrey, Legal Fuel, podcast, May 30, 2023. >> Link. In this episode, Buchanan uses her experience to contextualize where we are currently in the national movement towards fortifying lawyer well-being. In reflecting on the progress that has occurred within the legal arena throughout the past six years, Buchanan optimistically describes the budding generation of legal practitioners as willing to have the tough conversations, showing that the future for lawyer well-being is looking hopeful. However, Buchanan also makes apparent what more needs to be done, further suggesting clear steps that can be taken by firms and leaders across the country to ensure the quality and availability of invaluable support for lawyers.

Valuable Resources Recommended by Buchanan:

Employee Assistance Program, Federal Occupational Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 22, 2022 >> Link

Mental Health First Aid, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, website homepage. >> Link.

Mindfulness for Lawyers Cannot Begin Too Early by Heather J.E. Simmons

Think back to law school, and the day you personally experienced Socratic method for the first time. That moment of total panic when you hear the professor call your name, and realize that the moment you have been dreading has arrived. However many years it has been, just thinking about the experience—remembering that feeling of total panic—can take you right back to that moment in time. Your body can’t tell the difference.  Now, reimagine what that experience might have been like if you had been trained in mindfulness.  In Mindfulness for Lawyers Cannot Begin Too Early, Heather J. E. Simmons explains how a simple mindfulness practice can break a fight/flight/freeze response and prepare you for the moment


Justice Solomon Named Chair of Supreme Court Committee on Wellness in the Law by the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, New Jersey Judiciary, May 2, 2023. >> Link. The New Jersey Supreme Court formed a committee aimed at identifying actionable recommendations to support the mental health of students, paralegals, attorneys, and judges. This committee additionally seeks to identify and address the specific challenges faced by marginalized members of the legal community.

Cracking the Code on Well-Being in Law: Applying Research and Experience to Advance an Essential but Elusive Priority by Patrick Krill, National Association for Law Placement, May-June, 2023. >> Link. In his article, Krill addresses three studies conducted over the past year that detail the factors impacting lawyer mental health in pandemic and post-pandemic society. Having detailed this research, Krill suggests paths forward for law firms to strengthen their mental well-being initiatives.

Fixing a Broken Character Evaluation Process by David Jaffe and Janet Stearns, Law Practice Today, May 9, 2023. >> Link. According to Jaffe and Stearns, character and fitness questions aimed at discerning the mental health conditions of bar petitioners encourage silence around struggles with well-being.

Law schools should take on students’ mental health and substance use from day one by David Jaffe, ABA Journal, May 17, 2023. >> Link. Associate Dean of the Washington College of Law, David Jaffe, encourages law schools and firms to center the well-being of students and law practitioners.

Law firm leaders on what more can be done to protect junior lawyer wellbeing by Aishah Hussain, Legal Cheek, May 18, 2023. >> Link. From 2023’s Mental Health Awareness Week on Anxiety, this article compiles the commitments made by several law firm leaders to promote the mental health of today and tomorrow’s legal practitioners, thereby outlining the current trajectory of firms across the nation in working to fortify well-being in the legal profession.

Meet the Law Firm Leader Who’s Out About His Own Mental Health by Vivia Chen, Bloomberg Law, May 19, 2023. >> Link. Simon Malko, managing partner of Morris, Manning & Martin, opened up publicly about his struggles with mental health in his push to bring an onsite therapist to his firm. His successful trailblazing story emblematizes the pathway to stigma reduction within the legal profession.

Lawyer Strong®: The Legal Profession’s Journey Toward Well-Being by Paula Davis, Forbes, May 18, 2023. >> Link. In her article, Davis highlights successes in the push for lawyer well-being by presenting innovative ways of implementing culture change from firms across the country.

Tuning into the Wisdom of Your Body to Optimize Your Legal Practice by Laura Mahr, The North Carolina State Bar Journal, pages 34-36, Summer, 2023. >> Link. As noted by Mahr, the legal profession often encourages a separation of the mind from the body, resulting in lawyers ignoring their physical and emotional needs. In this article, Mahr provides suggestions to lawyers looking to regain their mind-body connections.

A Few of My Favorite Things by Laura Mahr, The North Carolina State Bar Journal, pages 42-43, Spring, 2023. >> Link. This article encourages legal practitioners to personalize their office spaces so as to feel more connected to their surroundings.

Master Your Mind with Mantra by Candace Hoffman and Laura Mahr, North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program, podcast and article, May 19, 2023. >> Link. According to Hoffman and Mahr, a mantra, or a “mind tool,” can be used by legal practitioners to calm down their often over-active minds, consequently empowering them to better reflect on how their thoughts impact their physical and emotional well-being.

Procrastination Buster by Candace Hoffman and Laura Mahr, North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program, podcast and article, March 1, 2023. >> Link. In this episode, Mahr details to Hoffman an experience that she had with a client who had difficulty with “procrastination freeze,” a personal immobilization experienced in the face of a dreaded task. To help her client and her audience, Mahr details a 5-minute process that can be used to overcome procrastination freeze.

Why Mental Health in the Legal Profession Is Getting Worse: The Morning Minute by Zach Needles, American Legal Media, subscription required, May 18, 2023. >> Link. This article provides insight and links to research that details how pandemic hiring practices have hindered intra-firm cohesion, consequently worsening the mental health of legal professionals.


U.S. Depression Rates Reach New Highs by Dan Witters, Gallup, May 17, 2023. >> Link. In analyzing the national trends leading U.S. citizens to demonstrate the highest rates of lifetime or current depression to date, Witters contends that the disproportionate effects of the pandemic upon women, young adults, and people of color contribute to this national incline, especially seeing that these groups exhibit the highest rates of depression among the general population.

Fact Sheet: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Tackle Nation’s Mental Health Crisis, The White House, May 18, 2023. >> Link. This article briefs the Biden Administration’s course of action outlined by the 2024 Fiscal Year Plan, wherein more national dollars are being directed towards enhancing access to, quality of, and diversity across America’s mental healthcare system. Moreover, the comprehensive plan will dedicate financial incentive towards creative solutions that spur destigmatizing culture change.

How Does Social Media Play a Role in Depression? by Nadra Nittle, reviewed by Steven Gans, Verywell Mind, May 23, 2023. >> Link. Using trend observation and novel causation-establishing research, Nittel argues that excessive social media usage is leading to increased depression rates within Americans, especially younger populations, due to the frequency of bad news, the accessibility of self-comparison, and the ease of virtual bullying.

Social Media, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating by Ricardo Dalle Grave, Psychology Today, May 30, 2023. >> Link. Grave details the literature regarding the indirect relationship between social media use and eating disorders, contending that it is possible that social media enables Americans to compare themselves with the “sociocultural ideal” body type, and that social media possibly perpetuates an objectification of the human body.

IWIL Law School Programming 

Throughout the 2023-24 Academic Year 

IWIL Conference

January 23-25, 2024 – NEW DATES!

Well-Being Week in the Law 2024 

May 6-10, 2024 

The dates for the next IWIL Conference have been set – January 23-25, 2024!  Please mark it on your calendars.  Over the next few months, you will see more information come out with the tracks, registration fees, and the RFP request for presenters.  We look forward to an even bigger event – more speakers, more engagement, and even more attendees!  Coming off WWIL, I know our conference is special and we want to make sure it is a great experience for all of you. 

Along with the conference, we have other initiatives we will getting off the ground in the next few months – if you are interested in supporting IWIL, please consider donating here.

Have you checked out the Path to Well-Being in Law Podcast recently?  There are 27 episodes with well-being thought leaders, including miniseries focused on DEI, well-being research, and law schools.

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

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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