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Path to Well-Being in Law - Episode 30: Javoyne Hicks

26 min read

Path to Well-Being in Law - Episode 30: Javoyne Hicks

 

 

Chris Newbold: 

Hello, well-being friends and welcome to the Path to Well-Being In Law Podcast, an initiative of the Institute for Well-Being In Law. I'm your co-host, Chris Newbold, executive vice president of ALPS malpractice insurance, and I'm once again joined by my favorite and only co-host of the podcast, Bree Buchanan. Bree, how's it going today? 

Bree Buchanan: 

Good answer, Chris. It's going great. Great to be here with you. 

Chris Newbold: 

Obviously most of you know Bree. Bree continues to be a forceful advocate in the well-being space working for Krill Strategies and doing a number of different speaking engagements around the country. So again, most of you know by now that our goal here is to introduce you to thought leaders doing meaningful work in the well-being space, in the legal profession, and in the process build and nurture a national network of well-being advocates intent on creating a culture shift within the profession. And I got to tell you, one of the things that I think I've come to realize the more work that I've done in the well-being space is the power of storytelling and the power of what motivates people to get involved in things that are close to the heart or things that have had a personal impact on individuals. And today's guest I think really epitomizes when something can happen in your life that changes the course of life. 

There is certainly a notion of that propelling a passion and an interest in an issue, and that certainly is the case with somebody that we really love in the well-being movement. One of the newest additions to the Institute for Well-Being in Law's board of directors, and that's Javoyne Hicks out of Georgia. I'm going to let Bree introduce Javoyne to the listeners, but just know she's one of my favorite people. It's really a joy to bring her on this particular podcast, and so much of why I do this work is because of stories like you're going to hear from Javoyne. So Bree, love it if you could introduce Javoyne to the listeners. 

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Bree Buchanan: 

And I've just been so happy that Javoyne has joined us on the board of directors and she just has this quiet, persistent, persuasive nature to her, and you're going to hear about all the things that she's been able to achieve. So Javoyne Hicks serves as the chair of the State Bar of Georgia's Lawyers Living Well Committee and is a member of the executive committee for their State Bar's Board of Governors. She helped develop the State Bar of Georgia's first Wellness and Practical Skills, 12 hour CLE, which now, which is coming up in just a few days, is really blossomed into a wellness institute, and I'm excited Javoyne to get to be one of your speakers at that too. She has spearheaded the movement to create a wellness center as part of the State Bar of Georgia, and really just all of these developments have her fingerprints on all of them as a catalyst for what's going on there. 

Javoyne's goal is to normalize the attention everyone should be paying to their own well-being and minimize the stigma that exists that keeps people from seeking help when needed. As such, Javoyne serves on the board of IWIL and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. In her day job, and yes, besides all of that, she also is the chief senior assistant district attorney in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. So welcome Javoyne. Thank you for being here today. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Thank you so much, Bree, for having me. I'm really excited about being here. Just as excited as I'm about being on the IWIL board. Very excited. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Absolutely. Javoyne, I'm going to ask you the question that we ask everybody on the podcast at the beginning to tell us why you are such a passionate advocate for well-being in the legal profession. What is in your life that really drives that passion? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Well, Bree, that question is one that most people ask, but it started over 18 years ago. It was 19 years ago now when the father of my children and a very exceptional lawyer was dealing with depression and refused to get the assistance that he needed because he said, "I'm a good lawyer. I know that despite the confidentiality that exists, good lawyers can get past those guidelines and can get access to information." He did not want people to know that he needed help, so he wouldn't go get help in August of 2004, so it's been 19 years, he died by suicide because he would not get the help that he needed. I have two extraordinary daughters who were five and seven at the time. 

And I had to watch them like hawks. It was apparent that there were mental issues in his family that existed and were known, and he had examples of his uncle was a member of the bench in Detroit for 30 years. He was diagnosed, he took medication, and was still successful. But yet, and still even having that example that you could deal with it and still be successful, he still didn't want anybody to know he needed help. And so my fight, and the reason I do this work is to normalize the conversation around mental health and wellness and how it is okay not to be okay. And it's important that you get the help that you need, and like I told my children, "We are not going out like that. We are going to make sure that every way possible that is available for you to get help. If you need it, we're going to get it." My oldest is now an attorney herself, is an assistant DA like me. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Oh my goodness. Wow. That's exciting. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

But she does work that is human trafficking work and it is very difficult for her. Sometimes because she takes it home, because she wants to help these children and she can't help the children and the justice system doesn't necessarily help these children. And just yesterday it's like sending her a new list of people to choose from to find a counselor to release that pressure. She knows it's okay to get help because we've had that conversation so that she won't be like her dad. And I have to add that his sister also died by suicide a few years after that. So it's just ingrained that if I can save a life, I'm going to do that. 

Bree Buchanan: 

And I have no doubt that you have already through all the work in the advocacy that you have done, and your daughter is a new lawyer too. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

She is. She's only been practicing two years. 

Bree Buchanan: 

The extra pressures that young lawyers are dealing with too. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Yes. 

Chris Newbold: 

Javoyne, tell me about, again, this notion that so many lawyers are prone to suffer in silence. And just give me your impressions of, I mean obviously I think a lot of us surmise what the why is, right? But the notion of, in the time that's went by, do you feel like there have been positive evolution in this area within the legal profession that it's as bad as it's ever been? What's your general sense of where we're at in terms of, again, lawyers being willing, able, and making that step to be able to talk about issues as opposed to suffer in silence? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

I do believe, Chris, that we have made major strides in lawyers going and deciding to get help and not suffering in silence in the same way. And a lot of that has to do with the work that we all are doing here as far as just giving it a voice. Because a lot of times people didn't know that other people were dealing with the same stressors. Unfortunately though that number that still feels like if they need help as a lawyer, if they tell people they need help, then people won't come to them for help and therefore they won't be able to be the lawyer and have their livelihood that they need. Because if you can't, people just think, "Well, there's something wrong with them, so let me go to another lawyer." That's the reason it's so important to normalize this conversation. When people realize that we all have mental health issues, it's just in differing degrees of what's happening in their life at the time and that it's okay, then you won't see someone and judge them. 

There's that stereotype that, and I don't know why we have placed this different attack on the mental health versus physical health. There's a difference. And until we conquer that, we're going to have to continue to deal with that issue. But it has gotten better and a lot of students, the law school students, because law schools are talking about it and including wellness as part of their processes, even if it's not part of the curriculum, they have someone in the schools who address mental health. And so there are a lot of younger lawyers that aren't putting up with some of the things that we, as I would say, seasoned lawyers had to deal with in just expressing our growth. I work in the office and I've been a prosecutor off and on for most of my career, and now I'm back into it and there was no saying, "Mental health day, okay, well take your file with you and come back tomorrow." 

I mean, that just wasn't part of the conversation. And now it is. You can take a sick day if you need it to regroup. And one other thing that we also tell people is that you don't have to wait until you're in crisis. As we spread that message that has helped to be able to say, "Hey, reach out, talk to somebody. You're not in crisis. You just had a bad day." Because you want to get to the point where you're not waiting until you're in crisis in order to get that assistance. And that helps across the board. 

Bree Buchanan: 

It makes such a difference. And because of that stigma, when I was a director of a Lawyers Assistance Program, what I saw over and over again, what you'd always think after you'd answer the phone is, "How could this person wait so long?" And that really is an issue. People terrified of the blowback, and so they just don't ask for help. And it's not that it's too late, but it's just so much more difficult too. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

So much more difficult. 

Chris Newbold: 

And don't you think, Javoyne, that when we talk about this culture shift that's needed in the legal profession, that it is... Progress feels to me like the ability to raise your hand and say, "I need help." And to not be judged, to not feel like, "Well, how's this going to affect my standing in the firm?" That seems to be a pretty critical element of success in a culture shift, is that maturation toward that level of vulnerability that people when they're struggling mentally have the ability and feel like they're going to be supported, not the opposite. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

And that's so true and that's why it's so important, if you can, in your wellness journey to find partners that are leaders in either the firm. We try to partner with as many judges as possible because lawyers do what judges say is okay to do. And so when you have a respected judge, especially because when you have judges who will go and say, "I get counseling." I mean, I had one of my judges who can be as honorary as he wants to be on the bench, but he spoke at one of our wellness CLEs last year and he talked about he goes to counseling every week. And so in my mind I'm like, "Well, what would you do to people if you didn't because you are something else." 

But that made it okay for a lot of people. It resonated that this judge says he gets counseled, this judge, especially. When you have someone in leadership that people look up to and they are willing to say that they get help and you see that they're still able to carry on their jobs, people still respect them. Then you get other people that say, "Okay, well it's okay for me to go get help too." And that's what we work towards. We partner with people especially that are in the field and doing well. The partners, I don't have as much myself impact with partners, but we partner with people who do, who are in the big firms. 

A lot of the big firms have instituted either a wellness partner or they have a counselor within the firm that people can go to. And so they're seeing that they get a better product from a well lawyer, and they can see that it always comes down to the bottom line in those instances. And when you can show the bottom line not only does not decrease, but increases when you have well lawyers and you support your lawyers, it makes a difference. 

Chris Newbold: 

Javoyne, we're obviously recording this during suicide prevention month, and I know that you've thought a lot about this topic. What do you believe the profession should do to prevent more suicides? What's actually effective in your mind in terms of suicide prevention? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Talking about it, just like we said. I mean that right there is the number one way to help the profession and reduce the number of suicides among our profession because when people know that they can talk about it, we normalize the conversation, it's not a closed door conversation anymore. We're having these seminars, we're having these CLEs, we're inviting our CLE that's going to happen on at later this week. We have a full judges panel of judges who are talking about the things that they have gone through. I remember one of our CLEs was very powerful because we had a judge that talked about dealing with substance abuse. What? That never would've happened before. When you have someone that is willing to put themselves out there, other people are willing to go and get the help that they need. To me, that's the number one thing. Continuing to provide these educational opportunities, these conversations where people can hear from others who aren't just talking about it but have lived through the struggle, lived through the struggle. 

And I say that again, lived through the struggle, so that there's a positiveness on the other side. Doesn't mean the struggle is over, but they're living through it and able to show others how they can make it work for them. And so that to me, number one, hands down, that's why I also work beyond our legal profession in working with suicide prevention on a broader scale. Our teens are suffering at alarming rates and that's social media driven in my mind. And there's data to support that. When you see it looks like everybody else's life is perfect, it makes yours look not so great. So we have to work on that. But conversation is the number one key in my opinion. 

Chris Newbold: 

And it feels like, I just love what you said about it's the living through it and the ability to be able to reflect and share those stories. It does feel like one of the things that makes me optimistic is that more and more attorneys are willing to do that at all sorts of various phases of their career, which ultimately either gives them the courage to be able to either pivot or seek the resources that they need. But as we all know, there's so many different degrees of surviving through it, but all of those degrees are important, whether it's contemplating situations where Lawyers Assistance Programs step in, or even just the average associate who doesn't feel like they belong in a law firm culture and wants to talk to somebody about it. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Exactly. 

Chris Newbold: 

All sorts of stressors and anxiety creating things that happen to all lawyers. But if we again, kind of internalize it and don't feel like we can talk to others about it, then in some ways we may be part of perpetuating it. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Correct. I totally agree with that. One of the things that we, in Georgia, besides starting a suicide prevention and awareness committee, we had a state bar president who died by suicide and the president of the bar at that time, she took it upon herself to establish a suicide awareness and prevention committee, and we did a full year How to Save the Life campaign where we worked with ICLE, we did full videos. And that's how I actually started my advocacy because she asked me, because she knew my story because my husband wasn't just an attorney, he was also the county attorney for where we live. And so he was pretty prominent and she knew my story. 

And so she asked me to be part of that campaign. And what we did was, what she did was work with our CLE approving committee, the CCLC, and got them to approve showing a minute of a segment before every ICLE that year. For a whole year, if you took a CLE course, you heard how to save a life and got information and links to how to get more or see the rest of the videos and that kind of thing. And that campaign was powerful. 

Bree Buchanan: 

I bet. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

It had to reach everybody because you had to have 12 CLEs so you saw that thing 12 times, at least 12 times. 

Bree Buchanan: 

You couldn't get away from it. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

You couldn't get away from my face. 

Bree Buchanan: 

That's brilliant. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

That was one of the faces that took part. 

Bree Buchanan: 

That's a wonderful strategy, forced audience. And so you've really been such a leader in the area of instituting well-being, suicide prevention, et cetera. Among the bar associations, and I know we have plenty of listeners who are parts of the state task forces that we work to start around the country. You up lead that effort there in Georgia. Are there other things that you've seen or suggestions you have aside from CLE for what some of these Bar Association folks could be doing around the country? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

So one of the primary things, like I said, is having conversation. So it's important to partner with other organizations who are maybe like-minded, but they don't appear that way. I mean, you can partner with your Lawyers Assistance Programs, but you also partner with your local bar associations with their walks. It could be an AIDS walk, it doesn't have to be a walk that's specific. It could be any kind of walk because it's physical activity. You partner with associations that are doing whatever, and they have you come and talk to their people. It could be a class or a session, or it could be like the lawyer's club, for instance, where people are going to get business and interacting for business, but they put you on their program and you're in front of people that you normally wouldn't be in front of because they're not going to come to your wellness CLE, but they're going to go to a business interaction or business meeting or a development meeting. 

And then you have an opportunity to partner with them. And when you bring people together, then you're spreading your message. You also get some information about building business as you give them information about how to institute wellness in that business. So that's one of the things that we do a lot of as partner with other organizations. Again, not just limited to the legal profession because lawyers are in other organizations as well. So churches, we partner with some church activities depending on what it is because we have a lot of the local bars will have events at church. It may have a Wills seminar, for instance, at a church or adoption day, those are different kind of audiences that you can reach, that you can share information with. And so that's all, again, we're back to communication and conversation. So it keeps coming back to that partnerships. 

Bree Buchanan: 

And I love how creative- 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Specifically... 

Bree Buchanan: 

Creative in finding places to go and share that message. A lot of times we just think up to CLE and then stop thinking, but you've really taken it so much farther than that. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

You can't stop thinking because it is not just us. We go home and the family is affected. You may be the only lawyer in your family, but you have other people that are going to their jobs and they're affected by what you bring home. And so that's the reason you have to find ways to include them as well. A lot of times when we partner, even when we're talking about the legal profession, we need to make sure that we're including paralegals and the support staff because they're dealing with that attorney that's maybe struggling and they're covering for them if they're having problems with the way their practice is going because they won't get the help that they need. So we have to have our tentacles out, if you will, to make sure that we're reaching as many people as possible. 

Bree Buchanan: 

And paralegals and court staff too. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Yes. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Big ally. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Yes. 

Chris Newbold: 

It feels like Javoyne, that again, I think my big takeaway from your conversation today, again, anywhere that you can start a conversation within a community of folks who face similar challenges, that's a healthy conversation. Whether it's bringing together county prosecutors and talking about common challenges, whether it's about bringing paralegals together and talking about that nasty boss that makes me feel like I'm not deserving of the recognition that I am. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Exactly. 

Chris Newbold: 

Or the plaintiff's lawyers at the trial lawyer conference, somebody getting up there and telling the stories of struggle and perseverance and finding a way through and how, and every time that we normalize a conversation through storytelling, we make it easier for the next person to come forward and say, "I need some help." Or something's structured here in the way that our profession is operating that needs either attention work or probably both. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

And one of the things that we do when we partner with Lawyers Assistance Program, they have a program called Lawyers Helping Lawyers. And so just like we said, we want to get to the point where you're not waiting until you're in crisis. So you partner with someone who's similarly situated with this particular problem or issue. It doesn't even have to be a problem, an issue. And you partner with them so they can understand. Because again, we're trying to catch people before things become catastrophic. And so if I'm struggling because I got a major case, or for me, for instance, I have a murder case coming up and it's really gotten under my skin. Before it feels like, "Well, I don't feel like I need to go see a therapist about that. Therapist is not going to understand, but another prosecutor may understand. And because that prosecutor can help me with how to deal with this particular issue, I'm not taking it all on." 

And it build upon itself so that I am then can't move or I'm so overwhelmed I can't do my job. But if I had just partnered with somebody at that initial phase, then you don't get there. And so I'm all about not getting there as many people I can keep from getting there. And then if you are there, provide the resources that people need to keep going. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Support by a peer is just such an effective way to spread the message and support for folks. And I love what you're saying about not even having to go to a therapist, but to be around people who have a similar background, who have faced the same problem and as using your words, lived through it and coming out the other side, really, that can be very impactful and effective. 

Chris Newbold: 

Let's do this. Let's take a quick break. I want to come back and Javoyne, I want to unpack some of the stuff specifically that you're doing in Georgia, right? Because again, I think you're leading the charge to the discussion, the conversations, the solutions, and I want to spend some thoughtful minutes in that particular area as well. So we'll be right back. 

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Bree Buchanan: 

Welcome back everybody. And we are here today with Javoyne Hicks from Georgia who is talking to us about what all is happening in the state of Georgia around well-being. And she's really shared with us also a very powerful story of her own personal loss that's motivated all of this. Javoyne, let me just drill down a little bit and talking about the well-being movement there in Georgia where you're such a leader, particularly with a state bar and being on the board of governors even. Could you just tell us real quickly what you've done over the past few years, what you've been able to develop, but also really what is your plan for the future? What still remains to be done there? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

I can tell you I'm so excited about Georgia and its path toward well-being. I mean, we started as a task force under leadership of one president who was like, it was part of his strategic plan. I was fortunate, and we in Georgia are fortunate that we've had state bar presidents that have put well-being at the forefront of their activities. So the president elect happened to be the one selected to be the first chair of the wellness committee. So when he became president, I was tapped to take over for him as chair of the wellness committee and have done so since then. And so we came from a task force to an established committee of the bar. We took that and established, like I said, that CLE where he actually paid for out of his president's budget to get us going. So we've had tremendous support. 

We've had, like I said, we had a chief justice of the Supreme Court as part of our wellness committee when we first got started. So when, again, have partnerships and having someone with that voice that can help carry the message. Now, I had to do some work with him too because he would say, "I didn't want to have a CLE while I was breathing for the whole time." So I was like, "Okay, Judge." But we also established CLEs that were wellness CLEs before. To do any wellness activities, it had to be incorporated into professionalism. That was the only way we kind of could couch it in order to do some wellness presentations. So we established a separate CLE that's wellness that you can get credit for all by itself. So we did that. 

We have subcommittees that focus specifically on well-being, physical, mental, law students, social, so conquering and tackling that you have to only socialize at law firms with alcohol present and making it so that it's acceptable to expand that to mocktails and mocktails being a signature drink as well as... One of the things that I, and some people disagree with me, which is okay, I'm trying to normalize the conversation. I don't want to penalize people who, they like those activities where they go and they get a drink and they drink responsibly. The thing is to make it so that you don't feel like you have to in order to do that socialization. I don't want to make it so that you can't, or you look down on the wellness community if you want to take a glass of wine, but I want to make sure that you don't feel like you have to take that glass of wine in order to be part of that interaction. 

And so that's the changes that we're making in the mentality of the interaction. We've done that. We've moved on to establishing a wellness... We're right on the cusp. We've got approved for a wellness center. It's talking about moving forward to our future. So we've taken this committee, which is not going to go away because the committee is still part of the bar as a standing committee, but the wellness center will pull together all of the activities that the State Bar of Georgia is phenomenal in the different ways it addresses wellness. So we have the wellness committee, we have the Lawyers Assistance Program, we have suicide prevention and awareness. We have SOLACE, which is the organization that helps when there's a catastrophe that happens in a lawyer's life. The house burned down, there's a major illness, and someone can't continue to practice so they need that other kind of support. 

I mean, the young lawyers have a Lawyers Assistance Program that they institute, and we also work with our law schools. So the center would bring all of those entities together so that when someone calls the bar and they'll call the wellness center, there's someone that can point them in the right direction, kind of to be the one-stop shop, if you will. So people will know what resources we have and can help people get to where they need to be in order to get the help that they need specifically. That's the goal of the center. Right now, we're going to be virtual, but I'm knocking on that door for a space and I'm knocking on that door for a person and they know I'm coming. They know I'm coming. They already know I'm coming. That's how we're moving the process forward. 

And again, like I said, we partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We partner with all the local bars. We partner with the affinity bars too, because one of the things we know that wellness has not been... We still have a long way to go when we talk about mental health and people of color because they have a different challenge a lot of times because a lot of their cultures have made a level of stigmatizing mental health in a way that's beyond just general. And so we partner with those bars as well. And then you have that problem in the Black community period, as far as my affinity. And so I work with that as well. Those are the things that we're doing to move forward the bar. And I'm just so excited. I think that Georgia is doing so well in this area. Still a long way to go, but we are moving that bar forward. 

Bree Buchanan: 

You really set a great example for others to follow. 

Chris Newbold: 

I think one of the things that I most respect about, I'll just call it the Georgia model, so to speak, is that you started small, presumably with a few individuals. Those individuals became a task force. That task force became a center. That center became the impetus, the driving force between the partnerships that's also expanded. I mean, you've in essence built a microcosm of what IWIL is trying to build at a national level, which is you've grown a movement from the concerns that you saw coming out of obviously your personal story. 

Tell me why you think so many people are leaning into this issue. Because I do think, I mean one of the things that Bree and I are most excited about is, I mean, the number of people who are following IWIL, leaning in, volunteering, saying, "If there's a place I can give back to my profession, this is the place where I want to give back because I think I have something to say or there's something that's bothered me in terms of my own personal journey." So tell me why you think so many people in legal and so many facets of legal are leaning into this particular issue? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Well, I think one thing is that we are doing a better job of meeting people where they are. So a lot of times people don't know they're doing wellness activities. They're doing their activity, but it hasn't been identified. And once you tell them, "You do go walking, right?" And you are working on that committee over there or you have conversations with people about how they're doing in your private conversations. You are a support person for your friends. Do you do know that has value? And that once you tell people, "Hey, that has value." They're like, "Huh, it does." And then they're more willing to share. A lot of times also you just tap people on the shoulder. A lot of times people haven't done anything because nobody's asked them. 

Bree Buchanan: 

That's right. Absolutely. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

And once you ask them to share their story or tell me how you're working out. When we first started our wellness committee, we had a judge from the federal bench who she was an avid cyclist. No, a runner. She was an avid runner. So we pointed and said, "Would you chair our physical well-being subcommittee and help us, just the runs that you do, just the running that you do so that we can create other people that want to run? The state bar started a cycle, a bicycle section, so hey, when you're doing one of your bicycle sections..." Because they also talk about bike law and blah, blah, blah. But when you're doing one of your rides, we've incorporated their rides into our annual meetings. And so things that weren't connected to wellness, we're now connecting them and people see that they fit and people just, what's the acronym on it? Was it FOMO? FOMO is real. 

Bree Buchanan: 

It is. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

And if you let people feel like they're going to miss out because they're not participating because you've tapped into something that they're interested in, it's just going to expose them to another way of experiencing it, take advantage of it. FOMO is real. 

Bree Buchanan: 

It is. And that's a great motivator. Absolutely. Javoyne, I'm thinking about people that may be listening to this and thinking about what they could do to motivate their state bar. And I'm just curious, did you learn any tips, tricks, things you could pass on to somebody who might be thinking about moving forward to try and create a committee or create a wellness institute, that sort of thing? What worked for you aside from your great passion and persistence, what worked for you? And is there anything that didn't work that you think you would tell people, "Don't do this if you're dealing with your bar"? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

I really didn't come across anything that didn't work. Again, I keep going back to conversation. Take a look in assessment, who in your organization or who in the organization, who you want to move, do people listen to, whether it's the chief judge or the bar president, or it could be the executive director of the bar. It could be just, not just, but it could be someone that doesn't have a leadership title but people go to, see what it is they like, don't like and talk and speak to that thing to be able to build that rapport, to build that conversation so that they can buy in to the wellness movement. Because again, a lot of times people are doing wellness things and you just have to talk to them the right way. We just had an example of a judge who was kind of dismissive about helping out. 

Nobody's going to go out there and say, "I'm anti wellness." They're not going to say that. Not today. They're not going to say that. But you have to meet people where they are. And so saying, "Well, Judge, we don't need you to give us an hour. Give us what you can and let's have a conversation." And he was like, "Oh, yeah, sure." It just came across as a dismissal because of the way it was the first approach. 

And sometimes you may have to talk to a person a few times to be able to get them to open up and see what you're talking about is not a catastrophic change in what it is they're already doing or thinking about or been exposed to. But if you just come at it, "Oh, you need to do this for wellness and you need to take breath exercises and you need to meditate." I'm not a good meditator. That's not me. I tell people all the time, unfortunately, I calm down by watching Criminal Minds on TV. 

Bree Buchanan: 

That's your meditation. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

That's my meditation. It helps me sleep at night. Don't judge me, but I'm just saying, find what works for you. And then if you're trying to build something, find what works for them, the person you're trying to convince, find what works for them. And if it's not you that needs to talk to them, maybe it's somebody they already know that you have a relationship with that person and they have a relationship with the other person because it is worth the work. So if it takes a few extra steps to get there, then take the few extra steps to get there. And I promise you, you can get there. 

Chris Newbold: 

Javoyne, we know that we have the ability to transform what our profession looks like in our lifetime. You've already mentioned the fact that you feel like in the last two decades, we've come a long way, which gives us optimism that we can continue to transform, I'll just call it poor habits, into healthier, stronger habits that allow us to put well-being as a core centerpiece of professional success. As you think ahead to the future, what does success in the well-being movement look like to you? What type of legal profession would you like to leave? I mean, you have a daughter now in our profession. As you think about her journey, what's your visual notion for what success looks like as we think about what lies ahead? 

Javoyne Hicks: 

I would really like our profession to look at how we do business because we have a structure that doesn't necessarily support wellness overall. I'm not going to say that B word, but we all know that it exists and it causes a stress that is like none other and is not always necessary. So some of our clients don't want you to turn around something like in 24 hours in the middle of the night or while you are on vacation because that means they have to then deal with it when you give it back to them. But make sure there's ways to have conversations so that you may not get rid of the B word, but find ways to have different conversations with clients so that expectations aren't just, "Well, we've always done it this way and we know that's what is expected of us." Well, it may not be. 

So make sure that if you're going to put yourself on that wheel, it's something that your client really needs and desires. A lot of times if you have that conversation about expectations ahead of time, then that can help the flow of how we interact with our clients and therefore how we do business. I would love for us to get to that point where that all-nighter or taking a call when you're on vacation and it's halting your time with your family and your friends that you already planned. You didn't just buy that ticket yesterday to Italy. I'm just saying that because I just got back from Italy, but you didn't just buy that ticket. So you plan this time off so make it so that you can have that time off. Emergencies happen. Yes, we know that. But make sure it's an emergency and make sure that your client understands that. 

And I think more clients than not would move along so that you know that if they are calling you, it is an emergency. I mean, it's not going to be across the board, but it can be a lot better than it is right now. On the broader front, I am committed to working and trying to find, getting involved with the insurance industry, because if you can make wellness one of the free annual checkups the same way most of the insurance companies have instituted having an annual physical, then you help reduce stigma because everybody's available to get an annual mental health checkup, for instance, and therefore you have somebody that can maybe monitor from year to year if there's some major changes that aren't coming out. Or it allows somebody the freedom to talk when they've been scared to talk because everybody has it as part of their insurance. "It's just my wellness check." And that would go a long way to normalizing the conversation. So that's one of my big heavy lifts beyond just the legal. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Well, and I believe that you will accomplish it because it seems that whatever you put your mind to, Javoyne, you do. 

Chris Newbold: 

I was just going to say, Javoyne, you are a powerful force in our well-being movement. We are so fortunate that you have joined our ranks. It's a pleasure and a privilege to serve with you on the IWIL board. And we really want to genuinely thank you for sharing your story today and all of the things that I think when you look through such a healthy lens in terms of where we need to go behaviorally, organizationally, through storytelling, through facilitating conversations, there's just so many good nuggets that you've thrown to our listeners today. We are so thankful that you came on the podcast, and we'll always be in your cheering corner as we continue to move on and do great things together. 

Javoyne Hicks: 

Well, thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It's been quite a pleasure. And again, I don't talk to you. I'll talk to anybody about wellness stuff. 

Bree Buchanan: 

All right. 

Chris Newbold: 

For sure. 

Bree Buchanan: 

Thank you, Javoyne. 

Chris Newbold: 

All right, so for our listeners, we'll be back in just a couple of weeks. Bree and I are kind of contemplating some evolution in the formats of doing some different kind of things, bringing some round tables on, talking about recent news and things that we can kind of weigh in on. And again, continuing to vary the content because if folks are coming to us for content, we want to be right there on the cutting edge of what people are talking about or going to be talking about in the near future, on the well-being front. And so we're excited about some of the things that are coming on the horizon here with the podcast. But again, one special, again, thank you to Javoyne for joining us on this particular podcast, and we should be back in just a couple of weeks with fresh content. Thanks for tuning in. 

 

BREE BUCHANAN, J.D., is Senior Advisor for Krill Strategies, LLC, a position she came to after her tenure as Director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas. She serves as a founding co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Wellbeing and is immediate past Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP). ________________________________________________________________________CHRIS L. NEWBOLD is Executive Vice President of ALPS Corporation and ALPS Property & Casualty Insurance Company, positions he has held since 2007. As Executive Vice President, Chris oversees ALPS business development team, sales strategy and is ALPS’ chief liaison into the bar association community, where ALPS is endorsed by more state bars than any other carrier regardless of size.

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