Wellness: The Role of Habits and Technology in the Legal Mental Health Crisis (On Demand Seminar)

MCLE Credits: 1.0
Ethics Credits Included: 0.0

MCLE Credit: 1.0 (Ethics: 0.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 0.0
Price: $79 (Includes a downloadable audio version.)
Viewable Through: 08/31/2023


A pre-recorded streaming video replay of August 2019 webcast, Wellness: The Role of Habits and Technology in the Legal Mental Health Crisis.

In 2020, Virginia lawyers, judges, and law students may take up to two pre-defined wellness courses through the Virginia Law Foundation/Virginia CLE free of charge. These courses have been developed in response to the efforts of the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Virginia Lawyers’ Wellness Initiative. Learn more.

Topics covered include:

Annie Dillard once wrote that “our days become our lives.” The psychologist William James said that “our lives are but a mass of habits.”

The reality is that our lives are much more defined by our habits than our hopes, but few of us have a good handle on what our daily habits actually are, and how they affect our work and mental health.

This course will not only inspire you to rethink the habits you’ve constantly wanting to rethink (how much you compulsively check your email, mindless use your phone, and needlessly scroll news websites), but also equip you with practical counter habits to form a work/life routine that is both more productive and more purposeful.

This program will address the ways attorneys can implement habit formation practices to minimize the occupational risks associated with the practice of law.

In 1990, a study of 1,200 Washington state lawyers showed lawyers to be almost twice the national average of problem drinkers and far worse in depression statistics. The study rang the alarm bells and called for further research and conversation on the problem. Then, a quarter of a century passed with no meaningful research or information.

In 2016, The Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation published a sophisticated and significant national study, showing what we worried it would: the problems are worse and worsening. Since the 2016 study, the ABA and the VSB have ignited a small but significant dialogue on the crisis of wellness in the legal profession.

In the time between, the globe has undergone a technological revolution that has changes the habits of personal and professional life.

Increasing amounts of information on the serious nature of the status quo for lawyer mental health are emerging, but little to no resources are focused on the drastic shift in technological habits over the past two decades, and how they might be exacerbating the existing problems.

A century’s worth of neurological and psychological research has consistently demonstrated that our ordinary habits have extraordinary impact on our mental health. These realities are amplified amidst the emergence of new smartphone technologies that are rapidly reshaping work and social habits. Through personal stories interwoven with a survey of the above literature, this course will:

  1. Summarize the emerging statistics and reports on mental health in the legal profession.
  2. Examine the recommendation of the Carnegie Foundation’s study on “Educating Lawyers” that law schools increase focus on providing a professional identity.
  3. Explain the neurological and psychological arguments for how technological habits are drastically reshaping the way we conceive of identity.
  4. Explain how lawyers’ professional identity is deeply connected to mental health in the profession.
  5. Will suggest four practical habits (two daily & two weekly) that can help form a professional identity that is resilient and resistant to the mental health crises that embattle the legal profession.


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Justin Whitmel Earley, Esq.

Justin W. Earley graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English Literature before spending four years in Shanghai, China. He got his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and he now practices business law, writes and speaks in Richmond, Virginia. 

After beginning his career as an M&A attorney at McGuireWoods, Justin is now building a corporate law practice and growing a family firm called the Earley Legal Group. In addition to his business law practice, Justin frequently speaks on the role of habits in the legal profession, especially as they impact ethics and mental health.

He is married to Lauren and has four sons – Whit, Asher, Coulter and Shep. His book on habits, The Common Rule – Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, is written from a faith-based perspective and published by InterVarsity Press. You can learn more the book at www.thecommonrule.org.

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