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The Mindful Lawyer: Can Meditation Help With Your Billable Hours?

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

How is this for a mantra: OMMMM, OMMMMM, OMMMM My God I Will Never Make My Billables this Month?

Thoughts like this are not terribly relaxing, are they? At a recent conference at U.C. Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, about 200 lawyers, professors and judges learned a bit more about what might actually be relaxing, mindful of how it can positively affect their careers.

This year's "Mindful Lawyer Conference" at Boalt was sold out, reports The San Francisco Chronicle. The conference was designed to educate legal professionals about how meditation practice can help them manage the stress of their work. And how to cultivate compassion. The conference offered scholarly presentations, discussions and guided meditations.

Meditation may be the very thing to counter-act the "speed and aggression" that is present in most lawyers' daily work, Norman Fischer, a Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher, told The Chronicle. The conference is modeled on a class taught by Charles Halpern at Boalt on meditation. According to The Chronicle, some students who have taken the class called it the pivotal point in their legal education.

Halpern calls it balance. "People will be less stressed, lead more balanced lives and realize they will be more effective lawyers if they are better people," he told The Chronicle.

So can becoming a mindful lawyer and slowing down for meditation really make you work better or even faster? Maybe not, but it can change your mind about your work. San Jose, California attorney Karie Lew says learning meditation changed her life. "The practice of being silent, of sitting with your thoughts ... has enabled me to find a clarity and a focus and, I'd like to say, some kind of wisdom to a challenging profession that is all about conflict," she said.

Those are some words for a young, stressed-out lawyer to meditation on.

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