Interview with Andy Clark Founder of Wellness Lawyer
Today I am writing a piece about a fellow lawyer, a fellow activist for the well being of lawyers, and someone who inspires me to continue to speak out about these issues, in the face of resistance and the response that it is impossible. Last Tuesday I had the privilege of Skyping with Andy Clark, a Canadian lawyer from New Brunswick, who, after practicing corporate law for 12 years, now devotes his time to helping lawyers everywhere to, in his words, create an extraordinary career within an extraordinary life. (How did you guess I would be excited about this!?)
Who is Andy Clark?
Andy is the founder of Wellness Lawyer. He writes a blog under that pen at www.WellnessLawyer.com. He is also a coach and speaker, and offers programs specifically designed to help lawyers create their ideal lives in this profession. Check out the Wellness Lawyer philosophy here and the two principles that underlie Andy’s definition of wellness here.
How Wellness Lawyer started
Andy believes the predominant paradigm of health in our country is broken. Our heath care budget is through the roof, he told me, and you would think that would mean we would be getting healthier as a society, but we aren’t. It’s treatment focused rather than prevention focused, and it doesn’t work.
Andy took this belief, and all the knowledge he had accumulated through his research, and applied a prevention focused approach to wellness in his own life. He was practicing at a large regional firm in Fredericton at the time and as he began to see benefits in his own life he also began to see that other lawyers around him could benefit from the application of this new approach to wellness in their own lives.
He needed a forum to get his message out, so he decided to start a blog. He began writing about the importance of incorporating wellness into each aspect of your life and of doing some forward planning in each of those areas so that no aspect gets neglected. Rather than work life balance, his writing focuses on holistic integration.
The feedback he received was good. He began getting requests to speak at CBA events and law schools. He began coaching individual lawyers to help them develop and apply their own personal wellness strategies. (Which Wellness Lawyer still offers! Check it out here.) Andy also recently completed a book on the compelling business rationale for lawyers to adopt a wellness lifestyle. It is called Lawyer Wellness Is Not an Oxymoron: Why tomorrow’s top lawyers must embrace wellness today—and what you need to do to be one of them, and it compiles all of his amazing wellness knowledge conveniently into one place. The book will be released in early November, and you can find out more about it here.
The importance of the message “Be Well”
To me the success of Andy’s endeavors came as no surprise because his message is vitally important. It isn’t something we are taught as lawyers: how to plan for our own happiness and health. We are taught how to make our clients happy, but not how to make ourselves happy. We are told there are places to turn to when we hit our breaking point of unhappiness, but are offered few tools to prevent things from going bad in the first place.
As Andy explained, not only are we not taught how to plan for our own wellness, we also are not taught the importance of planning for our own wellness. What we are taught is to self-sacrifice for our jobs and our clients regularly, and to blow off commitments to ourselves and others in our lives in the name of work. We are taught that planning for our own well being is time spent, when in reality, Andy explained, it is time well invested.
This investment is something that, Andy argues, is becoming more and more important for lawyers to make. As our profession changes to meet client’s demands for efficiency and reduced costs, the high value placed on billing hours will decrease. What will be valued above all is effectiveness. And the only way to function most effectively as a lawyer is to be well. Investing in your own wellness therefore does not detract from time you could be spending building your career, Andy explained, it enhances your career outcome.
So how do we do it? How do we “Be Well”?
Once we are convinced of the value of investing in our own well being, the million dollar question becomes - how do we actually go about doing it? Do we hire a trainer and a nutritionist? Do we book a vacation? Do we go to bed an hour earlier? Do we take up a hobby we are passionate about? If you ask around, you will likely get a different answer from everyone you ask. So what is it that will make us well?
The great thing is Andy has the answer. Well, not the direct answer to your question, but the answer to where to go to enable you to answer the question for yourself.
Andy had been looking for an effective tool to assist him and other lawyers to incorporate wellness into their lives - and that is exactly what he found when he attended Life Book. You can read more about his experience here. Life Book gives you the opportunity to go through each of the 12 different areas of your own life, Andy explained, to get really clear on your vision for each area, and to make a plan for getting there, before putting it all back together in the end.
The main reason Andy immediately thought the Life Book Program would be perfect for lawyers is because it is practical. “It breaks down that big thing that is life,” Andy told me, “and it is set up the way lawyers think.” Life Book approaches life similar to the way a corporate lawyer would approach a large transaction or a litigator would approach a trial, Andy explained. You visualize the end, you break it down into manageable pieces, and you create a roadmap for getting there.
Andy’s enthusiasm for Life Book caught the attention of its founder, and together they have collaborated to create a Life Book life-enhancement program specifically tailored for lawyers. Lifebook for Lawyers. Pretty amazing, right!? Find out more about what the program offers here.
I am so grateful to have met Andy, and for all that he is doing to help lawyers live happier and healthier lives and I am looking forward to my own experience at Lifebook for Lawyers in the near future.
So I hope you will check out the Wellness Lawyer and everything he is up to – I bet you will find something there that is of value for you too!
And as Andy would say - be well!
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