Overcoming the social slump

30-something white woman smiling while sitting at a table, talking on a cellphone and holding a cup of coffee.

The first COVID case was officially detected in the U.S. in January of 2020. In the months that followed, people throughout the country were asked to do something that as social beings seems very unnatural – to stay apart. With brick-and-mortar businesses closing their doors and office conference rooms moving to kitchen tables, Americans experienced a collective loss of connection.

As an attorney at a solo or small law firm, this shift may have felt especially difficult. Prior to the pandemic, your working days were consumed by interactions with clients and colleagues. In the evening, you may have attended a professional networking event or bar association meeting. And on weekends, responsibilities may have included coaching your child’s soccer team and doing pro bono work for a local non-profit.

In addition to being extremely dedicated to you clients, you’re an active member of your professional and local communities, and months of isolating and social distancing has taken a toll. While vaccine approvals and initial rollouts bring hope of a return to some sense of normalcy, in the interim, it’s important to find ways to stay connected to the things and people you care about. The following tips can help.

Connect with clients

Thankfully it’s still easy to communicate with and relay important information to clients via email and phone. What’s harder, is building rapport and trust from afar. This is especially true of new clients with whom you don’t have an established relationship. While nothing compares to meeting someone face-to-face, video conferencing is the next best option.

Use video often to connect with clients. Being able to read a client’s facial expressions and body language and offer a reassuring gesture or smile in response, helps clients feel seen and heard and boosts overall satisfaction.

Connect with colleagues

Attorneys learn a lot from one another. Unfortunately, with COVID restrictions still in place, there’s no walking down the hall to discuss a case strategy or meeting up for coffee before a big deposition. This reality can leave you feeling untethered and isolated from your peers.

Make time to check-in and connect with colleagues. Schedule a virtual coffee break, lunch, or happy hour. When you need advice or have news to share, don’t hesitate to send a quick text or pick up the phone.

Connect with your community

As an attorney, you play a vital role in helping the people and businesses in your community overcome legal challenges. Today, arguably more than ever, your skills and knowledge are needed. If you were previously involved with your school PTA, a local non-profit, or business chamber, attend virtual meetings and continue to play an active role.

If you are seeking ways to get more involved in your community, think about issues that are important to you and seek out organizations that promote or further those causes. Finding ways to give back and serve others, gives you something meaningful to focus on.

Connect with yourself

Owning or working at a small law firm requires a tremendous amount of dedication and time. Pre-pandemic, many attorneys were on a proverbial hamster wheel of constant busyness – leaving little time to focus on their own physical and mental health and well-being.

Reclaim your time. Move your body and do something that makes you happy every day. Take a walk, dance to music, do yoga, or play with your pet. Even 10 minutes of physical activity can elevate your mood for hours.

If you’re looking for additional information, visit the American Bar Association’s page on mental health resources.

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