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Bar News - October 19, 2016

Book Review: Meditation Guide for Lawyers a Good Skill-Builder


The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation
By Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford
Ankerwycke, 2016
Hardcover, 251 pages

The padded envelope arrived from the Bar Association on a sunny day. I opened it with anticipation: What area of the law would I be reading about and pithily reporting back on to you, my Dear Colleagues? Would it be some legal analysis, some new technology-driven concept, or perhaps another gripping true courtroom drama?

Meditation? Really? Come on. Well, no one has ever accused me of not being a team player, so I dove into this book as I have all the others in a humble attempt to help you decide which books you should spend your precious time on next.

Now I am not some naysayer, a skeptic, some doubting Thomas. I was born in 1960; I grew up with the Beatles going off to India to study transcendental meditation, EST and the Human Potential Movement, William Shatner reading the words to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on his first (yes, there were more) album; it was a magical time. So I approached this book with a suitably open mind.

The Anxious Lawyer is a good book; not a great one, but certainly a good one. It is in fact an excellent example of what my marketing professor called market segmentation. It’s a workmanlike book for the instruction of meditation. It just happens to be written by attorneys and intended for the attorney audience. I found all the elements in this book that I found in an unscientific survey of meditation resources such as Wikipedia and Meditation for Dummies. So the attorney considering adding meditation to his or her daily routine can look to this book as a sound instruction manual. The authors speak to us in our common tongue and you may be able to relate to them and their experiences in ways you might not with authors who have not done battle with the bar exam.

Authors Cho and Gifford are both lawyers and bring many anecdotes to the book illustrating how they came to the practice of meditation. The most revelatory page for me, the only one I turned down during the reading, was one in the “Clarity” section on just how much we as attorneys can actually control. We like to think that we are masters of our universe, and, using the litigation case as an example, the authors ask lawyers in their seminars how much of their cases do they actually control? The answer is usually in the 60-80 percent range. The authors then ask, “How much control do you have over the law, the facts, the witnesses, opposing counsel, the judge, the client?” The point being of course that we actually have very little control… a frightening prospect that I will try to forget next time I begin negotiations.

So, in closing, if you are considering adding meditation to your toolkit, this is a fine book with which to learn.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is an attorney who lives in Portsmouth and has practiced in New Hampshire since 1998.

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