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Heidi Alexander: Leading the Charge in Well-Being in Law

Heidi Alexander is Massachusetts' first Director of the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. Before assuming that role, Heidi served as the Deputy Director of Massachusetts Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and led its Law Office Management Assistance Program, practiced law at a small firm in Boston, and clerked for a Justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court.

She is the author of Evernote as a Law Practice Tool, past co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW and founder of the ABA's Women of Legal Technology initiative. Heidi is a native of Minnesota, a former collegiate goaltender for Amherst College Women's Ice Hockey Team, and a graduate of Rutgers School of Law, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Rutgers Law Review.  Heidi attends to her own well-being by coaching CrossFit and girls' youth hockey, competing in powerlifting, and most importantly spending time with her three young kids. She can be reached via email at heidi@lawyerwellbeingma.org, Twitter @heidialexander, or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/heidisarahalexander

Show Notes

In this episode of Trying 2 Win, Sara Lincoln and Tricia Derr, founders of the Charlotte-based minority and women-owned law firm, Lincoln Derr, talk with Heidi Alexander, Massachusetts' first director of the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, in honor of Well-Being Week in Law.

In the 1970s, a group of Massachusetts attorneys started a community of pure support, where they could talk about issues related to substance abuse without fear of running into a client. The creation of this community was the beginning of the lawyer assistance movement in Massachusetts, that has now grown to be the Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being for the state.

As the first full-time hire of this 17-member committee, Heidi Alexander is leading the charge on systematic change across the industry. Stress points for lawyers can range widely, but Alexander focuses on organizational culture and financial stresses.

Her plan for change focuses on creating awareness and more consistent, direct communication across the board. Legal employers, bar associations, law schools, chief justices, individual courts and other related organizations must work to welcome diversity, redefine success and minimize the stigma associated with seeking help.

In this episode, we talk with Heidi about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, what a return to normal can and perhaps should look like, the steps that are currently being taken to improve well-being across the profession and more. Her recommendation for individual well-being is to remember that well-being is multi-dimensional, made up of occupational, intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual and social buckets (as defined by the National Task Force of Lawyer Well-Being). While it's impossible to keep all of these buckets 100% full, Alexander's big three to stay well are to prioritize sleep (even when it seems impossible), practice mindfulness (simply meaning be present in the moment) and keep up with a social network to confide in.

Originally published May 3, 2021

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