National Pulse

Firm rolls out wellness coaching and 'emotional fitness' classes for employees

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Emotional Fitness

Photograph by Wayne Slezak

At Kirkland & Ellis, Lawyers who seek to enhance their “emotional fitness” now can enroll in the Life XT program, a series of live classes and online videos designed to promote resiliency against stress and increase productivity.

Life XT is based on the book Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing, which bills itself as a cross-training program for happiness and health. Life XT was developed in conjunction with health care researchers and neuroscientists with the goal to enhance lawyers’ ability to cope with the pressures of the profession.

“As lawyers, we’re always dealing with thorny problems and are always on demand for our clients, which generates a lot of stress,” says Linda Myers, a member of Kirkland’s management committee. The firm’s chair had read Start Here and turned to Myers, a “seven-day-a-week exerciser,” to investigate bringing the program to Kirkland’s lawyers.

Life XT includes one-on-one wellness coaching, meditation and yoga classes, with content available in person and online. Kirkland piloted the program with 60 Chicago-based attorneys last fall. It was so well-received that it’s now being rolled out firmwide with all 1,400 U.S. attorneys eligible to participate.

It’s been popular, and there’s a distinct business rationale for adopting this program, according to Myers.

“Being a lawyer is a very high-stress job. The people here are bright and capable—they have a lot of options [of places to work]. We invest in recruiting and training them, so we want to find ways to help them stay here,” she explains. “With Life XT, we’re giving them a set of tools to be happy and productive at work. It contributes to the firm’s morale and esprit de corps when we show our lawyers that we’ll spend time and money on them. And if they’re more well, it’s good for the organization.”

Life XT’s website says the program can increase a team’s health by 21 percent and its focus by 16 percent. Myers adds: “It’s too soon to tell if our health insurance costs will go down, but that would be another great upside.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “‘Emotional Fitness’ for Lawyers: Firm rolls out wellness coaching, classes for employees.”

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