How 'Positive Psychology' Can Help Lawyers Succeed in Practice
Many of the same qualities that help lawyers succeed in practice, such as aggression, critical thinking and a willingness to take on a challenging workload, can be negatives in personal relationships. While that wasn’t a big problem for many, back when client development wasn’t as critical a skill as it is today, now there is growing concern that personal issues can present significant career roadblocks.
But a new field is emerging that is intended to help both individual attorneys and the law firms for which they work recognize such issues and cope with them effectively, enhancing lawyers’ business and personal lives. At the forefront of those applying “positive psychology” is Cynthia Pladziewicz. A former real estate partner at Thompson & Knight, she subsequently became a psychologist and is now the Dallas-based firm’s chief development officer, reports the American Lawyer (sub. req.).
Pladziewicz focuses both on the well-being of lawyers already at the firm and helping Thompson & Knight make good hiring decisions, the article explains.
For example, having seen in her private counseling practice how difficult it could be for a lawyer struggling a problem like depression or substance abuse to get immediate help in a non-emergency situation, Pladziewicz developed a program in which the law firm directly retains psychiatrists in cities where the firm is located to see its attorneys within 48 hours, when help is needed. She is the only person at the firm who knows that a lawyer has sought such an appointment, and OKs the anonymous bills Thompson & Knight pays on their behalf.
“If you’re not suicidal or homicidal, it can take a month to get an appointment,” explains Pladziewicz, who personally selects the psychiatrists with an eye to those who can be counted upon to accept the firm’s health insurance coverage. The program gets lawyers “in quickly, with enough [payment] to get an assessment and initial treatment,” until medical benefits kick in.
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