Why Florida Lawyers Need and Deserve Good Sleep
By Aaron H. Wallace, Esq.
Well-Being Week in Law is underway, and it’s about more than pausing for a power nap or booking a spa trip.
Rather, the well-being movement is a revolution in the way lawyers identify themselves, understand excellence, and define success.
It’s about recognizing that client service does not exist in a vacuum. That the person you are while in a conference room or Zoom hearing is the same person you are when grabbing Advil for back pain or telling your kids you don’t have time to sit down for a movie… or trying (and failing) to hit the sack an hour early tonight.
Ask yourself: did you sleep less thoroughly last night than you would have liked — or for less time than the experts recommend? If so, was that an exception to the rule, or do you routinely sacrifice your forty winks on the altar of “excellence”?
Let’s talk about the concept of excellence, then, and why sacrificing sleep doesn’t serve it in the way you might think. Here are three reasons lawyers give for swindling the Sandman… and ways to turn that tired old logic on its head.
“Sleeplessness Goes with the Territory”
We lawyers sometimes suffer from the delusion that being overworked and underslept is what makes one a courtroom rockstar, rooted perhaps in the belief that every other lawyer powers through on only four hours of shuteye. But consider this:
- If you believe that (A) the brain benefits from adequate sleep, and (B) other lawyers are sacrificing sleep, then might it follow that getting good sleep would give you a competitive advantage? Why zig when you can Zzzag?
- There are lawyers who’ve committed to getting adequate sleep (and exercise and social time too) while still excelling at their careers. If it has proved possible for them, why would it be impossible for you?
- Does it really make sense that the best lawyers are all drowsy and chronically fatigued? Is there any high-functioning profession that benefits from brain fog and physical exhaustion?
- If poor sleep is part of the job, might you have a hand in redefining “the job”? After all, whose job is it if not yours?
“I Have Duties to My Clients, So Sleep Can’t Be a Priority”
Yes, as lawyers, we all have duties to meet. Those duties are serious, imperative, and unyielding. As a lawyers’ professional liability insurance provider, that’s a concept we understand well.
But remember, Well-Being Week in Law is about turning conventional wisdom on its head and challenging lawyers to understand that wellness and professional responsibility go hand in hand.
For instance, have you considered that the duty you owe your clients might require you to get good sleep? That you can’t competently meet those duties without a well-rested body and mind?
It’s that kind of shift in paradigms and priorities that makes Well-Being Week in Law so electrifying. It’s why the ABA’s 2017 Path to Lawyer Well-Being report is now increasingly viewed as the birth of a movement. Though notoriously slow to keep up with modern trends, the legal industry is quickly realizing that wellness is essential to self and to success – and that includes sleep.
“I Just Don’t Need That Much Sleep”
It’s true: there are a handful people in the world who apparently just don’t need much slumber. Dolly Parton famously claims to sleep for only three to five hours each night, and at the age of 75, it’s worked out pretty well for her.
But while these people exist, experts insist that you’re probably not one of them. The National Sleep Foundation advises that most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep every night (make that seven to eight for people over the age of 65).
Certain you’re the exception? Make sure that’s not your built-in superhero complex talking first! (As lawyers, I think we all have an imaginary red cape at the ready.) Unless you were born on Krypton or have some solid evidence to the contrary, there’s a good chance you need more R&R than you realize. Remember: a cup of coffee is not a catnap.
Time for Radical Rethinking: Today, Good Lawyers Are Well-Rested Lawyers
Rewiring the way we envision success isn’t easy. Putting in the effort, though, can create better lawyers with fuller, longer lives.
At Florida Lawyers Mutual, we care deeply about Florida lawyers’ health, happiness, and well-being. We understand that a happy lawyer is a better lawyer — less likely to make mistakes and more likely to thrive (in every aspect of life). As the only lawyers’ professional liability insurance company created by The Florida Bar, our relationship with Florida lawyers goes back more than thirty years. To us, relationship requires care, nurture, and support.
That’s why we launched Sunny Decisis®: The Lifestyle Blog for Florida Lawyers, and it’s why we’re proud to partake in the IWIL’s Well-Being Week in Law. Today’s entry is all about physical well-being. Tune in tomorrow as we turn toward Florida lawyers’ spiritual well-being. In the meantime, if we can help you better protect your practice, your reputation, and your career, consider applying for a lawyers’ professional liability insurance policy today.