Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in bookish,

Book Review: The Anxious Lawyer

There are a number of good books extolling the virtues of mindfulness and meditation. In The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, authors Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford target fellow lawyers as a group who could especially benefit from incorporating regular meditation into their lives. They set out an eight week program designed to introduce their readers to a variety of meditation practices, including following the breath, mindfulness meditation, lovingkindness or meta meditation, mantra meditation, heartfulness and gratitude meditation. The weekly meditation exercises are accompanied by a series of "off the cushion practices" in which the practitioner incorporates some associated assignment into his or her daily routine in order to enhance the meditation experience. All of these are intended as a bridge to an continuing meditation practice tailored to the reader's experience and life goals.

The authors tailor their teachings on their subject specifically for lawyers, and to the stresses that are part and parcel of the legal profession. These include compassion fatigue, pressure to generate high billings, adversarial litigation, dealing with difficult clients, opposing counsel and judges, and generally losing balance in one's life. Lawyers are asked to shoulder other people's problems, and have very little control in eventual outcomes because of the number of variables that present themselves. In addition to providing a "how to meditate" course, the authors, both lawyers themselves, share their own personal experiences with these problems and offer very specific guidance to the reader on how to address many of these work stresses. They offer practical and useful advice, while ably presenting a good case for why meditation is especially beneficial to lawyers and how mindfulness can help lawyers to better focus on the task before them, work more efficiently, and lead more balanced lives.

The question begs to be asked as to whether or not this book is beneficial to non-lawyers. Clearly the meditation practices will be of benefit to anyone, as will the exercises for generating intention and purpose in one's life. Some of the helpful suggestions about dealing with difficult clients and colleagues, and about handling compassion fatigue will translate to many other professions. Much of the book is specifically targetted to lawyers and those sections will not be as useful outside of the practice of law. The crux of each chapter is an introduction to a new type of meditation practice and an application of that principle to everyday activities. These are of benefit to everyone.

I have found the eight-week meditation assignments beneficial and have felt an increased level of calm and acceptance as a result. While I cannot guarantee that it will be the magic pill for everyone wrestling with some form of anxiety, as the authors point out, the benefits of regular meditation have been empirically shown to have a number of health benefits, both physically and emotionally. These authors have crafted a workable and methodical program that can lead to a more disciplined, less stressful approach to meditation, one that doesn't take much time, and one that offers a viable option for the busy professional.
Tags: author: c, author: g, genre: non-fiction, review

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