December 2012 CBA REPORT
By Tabitha M. Hochscheid
Changing the Way We Relate to
Stress and the Practice of Law
the reader devise a systematic approach
for handling stress. The book takes a be-
havioral approach to identifying triggers
and modifying your reactions.
According to the author stress can be
quite normal, but when left unchecked
stress becomes distress. Distress can
lead to destructive emotions such as fear,
guilt and anger that can underlie depres-
sion in many. In the face of stress, we
have three different possible responses
including passive acceptance, flight and
fight for change.
Stress Management for
can teach you how to recognize
your stressors, change your thought
pattern, tame your emotions and modify
your behavior. We are all prone to stress
and many of us are looking for a way to
respond to the pressure inherent in our
jobs. This book provides a solution and
strikes the right chord.
Awake at Work: 35
Buddhist Principles for Discovering
Clarity and Balance in the Midst of
by Michael Carroll, while
not written for lawyers, is excellent.
Awake at Work
gives the reader a unique
way of looking at work and our mind’s
role in handling the chaos of work. If you
wake up in the morning and find excuses
for why you don’t want to go to the of-
fice or you find yourself staring out the
window instead of handling that crappy
file on your desk, then perhaps you need
to wake up.
Awake at Work
is based upon a
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation technique
which uses slogans to remind the medita-
tion practitioner of certain principles.
Carroll has adapted the slogan practice to
the work place setting with great success.
His system has been used by Fortune 500
companies, including P&G, to improve
employee stress levels.
Awake at Work
is arranged so that
you can choose a chapter and read it
independently and refer to it often.
With chapter names like Be Authentic,
No Ground, No Guarantees, Just Now,
Step Beyond the Silence of Fear, and
Acknowledge Small Boredoms, the book
describes most issues faced by practicing
lawyers. My personal favorites are Work
is a Mess and Everybody Just Wants to
Bounce Their Ball. The first slogan clearly
describes my practice and particularly my
office. The later slogan reminds me that
all lawyers have a job to do and making a
conflict personal really is not necessary.
This is a great reference book for use on
an ongoing basis.
These two books are both about
changing your thoughts about work and
use two entirely different approaches. The
core concepts, however, are very similar.
Work happens, stress is everywhere and
you can’t change the behavior of others or
the inherent stressors in your profession.
What you can change is your reaction
to work and stress. These are two great
resources for those seeking work life
balance and the reduction of the harmful
effects of stress on mental and physi-
cal health. After all, it isn’t the events or
stressors that cause us so much frustra-
tion; it is our reaction to them.
Hochscheid is chair of the CBA’s newly developed
Attorney Health and Well-Being Committee. She is a
member attorney at Cohen Todd Kite and Stanford
LLC. Her practice focuses on creditor’s rights,
commercial and bankruptcy litigation. She also runs
the blog “Balancing the Bar” at
racticing law can be all consuming.
Many of the CBA Health and Well-
Being Committee’s goals are to
help attorneys achieve a work life balance
along with assisting those with mental
health issues. Not all of us respond well
to the culture of competition, conflict
and aggression which are part of being an
At the core of all of these things,
practicing law is a JOB. So much of what
happens in our work is out of our control.
Most of our days are spent dealing with
third parties meaning many things
are out of our control. As if this wasn’t
enough, many of us can get trapped in a
cycle of self-criticism, which exacerbates
our stress and can lead to anxiety, depres-
sion and other health issues.
Who exactly is in control of your
work and life? Is it a senior partner, a
client or yourself? Despite conventional
industry wisdom, the only person in
charge of your life is you. With those all
important New Year’s resolutions soon to
be spoken, I wanted to share two books
that can be helpful in handling your job
The first book,
for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal &
Professional Satisfaction in the Law
Amiram Elwork, Ph. D. (contributions by
Mark R. Siwik, J.D. and Douglas Marlow,
Ph. D. J.D.) was first published in 1995
and is now on its third edition. This book
is successful because the author and his
contributors have a firm grasp on the is-
sues and stressors lawyers face. With this
knowledge as a base, Elwork has written
a book which discusses the factors and
provides checklists and exercises to help