Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of legal services to low-income communities.
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Benchmark's
Stress & Substance Abuse Busters

Managing stress and avoiding burnout and substance abuse are important competencies to develop as part of legal services and other public interest practice. Too many cases, overwhelming deadlines, needy clients and compassion fatigue are among the familiar stressors. All of us —no matter what our job title — need to learn and practice prevention strategies. Paralegals, support staff — especially support staff — those who bear the brunt of everyone else's stress — need to become even more resilient and stress hardy

We offer these stress and substance abuse busters:

• MCLE Guide: offerings of major CLE providers in California, most of which qualify for credit in the states that require or allow credit for substance abuse

• Readings: articles that discuss the sources of stress or substance abuse and ways to deal with them

• Video & Audio: useful how to information, guided exercises that can be purchased in video or audio 

• Exercises & Practices — things you actually can do at or near your desk to change your perspective, self-awareness, productivity, work level and life satisfaction.
As always, please send us your suggestions and submissions.

MCLE Guide
Of the Forty states that require attorneys to complete continuing educational credits, only California and Ohio require time on substance abuse/emotional distress. Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia allow substance abuse credits to be taken to fulfill a professional responsibility, professionalism or law office management requirement.
 

MCLE Guide
Substance Abuse

Audio & Video
Stress

Exercises & Practices

Substance Abuse

Drug & Alcohol Abuse & Addiction in the Legal Profession Article on alcoholism and drug abuse among lawyers. Legal Profession Assistance Conference.
1.0 Hour MCLE Self Study provided through Benchmark Institute.
California IOLTA programs: Free; Other Nonprofits: $10; Private bar: $20
 http://www.rushconsulting.com/benchmark/mcle/substance-abuse.htm

Alcohol Problems: Signs, Symptoms, Stigmas and Solutions
1.0 Hour MCLE Self Study provided through Benchmark Institute.
California IOLTA programs: Free; Other Nonprofits: $10; Private bar: $20
http://www.rushconsulting.com/benchmark/mcle/alcohol_problems.htm

Help for Addicted Attorneys Article on how and where substance-abusing or emotionally distressed attorneys can get help. California Lawyer January 2002 1.0 Hour MCLE; Self Study http://www.dailyjournal.com. Click on California Lawyer, January 2002 issue. $25.00 

Substance Abuse from the Judge's Perspective One judge's tale of recovery; reasons for addiction, detecting problems, getting help and what to do about substance abusing judge. Judge Peggy Hora, Moderator, Judge George Orndoff. 11/96; 1.0 Hour; Rutter Group
Video $95; Audio $80; http://www.ruttergroup.com/sabuse.htm#item1
Online $35; http://nt.rutteronline.com/new/seminars.cfm
Marathon $90 http://www.ruttergroup.com/mcle2002.htm#clecredit 

 

Audio & Video

Stress

Relax — You May Have A Few Minutes Left: Using the Power of Humor to Overcome Stress in Your Life and Work In this audio abridgement of her book, Loretta LaRoche shows us how to live longer, happier lives using the healing power of humor; filled with practical exercises to deal with stress. Loretta — who also did a lecture series on PBS — is a faculty member of the Mind/Body Medical Institute affiliated with Harvard Medical School. 3 Hour Audio Tapes. $18.00
http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=62-0375403485-0#more 
No MCLE credit, just helpful.
Exercises & Practices
Here are some exercises to help you to catch your breath and calm your mind.
We suggest that you integrate at least one exercise into your work schedule and use it everyday. According to the experts, it takes at least 21 consecutive days of new behavior to establish a new habit or overcome an old one. 

What are you waiting for? Stop talking about how stressed you are and do something about out!

Send us your favorite stress busters and we'll add them to the list.
The Ten Breaths Practice   Click here for audio
Sit comfortably erect with your feet flat on the ground. The feet are about 10 to 12 inches apart. Fold your hands softly in your lap with the palms up or place them palms down on your knees. Find a position where your back and neck are aligned and comfortably straight. This position will feel stable and balanced. Slowly close your eyes. Allow your jaws to relax and your mouth to open slightly.

Once you have fully settled into this position, take several deep, comfortable, rhythmic breaths. Inhale and exhale through both the nose and mouth. Bring your attention into this present moment and your body.

Slowly scan your body and feel any areas-jaws, neck, shoulders, stomach, back — where tension, stress or stiffness is present. Allow each area to relax and let go of any sense of stress with each breath.

Now focus your attention in a relaxed but concentrated way on your breath. Observe and feel each in-breath. Observe and feel each out-breath. If your attention shifts to sound, bodily sensation or state of mind, notice the shift and how it feels without resistance, struggle, or judgment. Then gently return your attention to the breath. Repeat this process ten times.

When you're done, gently open your eyes. Notice how you're feeling right now, in this moment. Take a few moments to assess what needs to be attended to, if anything, to maintain or restore your inner balance and engage the rest of your day.

From Dennis M. Warren, "Justice Frankfurter and the Laws of Stress and Performance" The Solo and Small Firm Practitioner Spring 1997 (State Bar of California Solo and Small Firm Practice Section)

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