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Three groups partner for ‘Lawyer Wellness Challenge’

Billed as “Virginia’s premiere wellness competition,” groups from across the commonwealth are partnering for the 2nd Annual Lawyer Wellness Challenge.

The challenge, a 10-day virtual competition, is a collaboration among the Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the Virginia Judges & Lawyers Assistance Program and the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Lawyer Wellness Initiative.

This year’s challenge will begin on July 26 following the VBA’s summer meeting and conclude on Aug. 4. Throughout the challenge, participants will compete for prizes while engaging in informational interactive activities.

“What is great about this event is that it is open to all members of the legal profession and looks at wellness through the six dimensions, with activities to cover the spectrum of interests and physical abilities,” VJLAP Tidewater Regional Program Manager Janet Van Cuyk said. VJLAP’s website states a goal of the event is to bolster awareness of the six dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Despite being geared to lawyers and legal professionals, the event is open to all interested people regardless of occupation. Any participant is eligible to compete and earn points. Having the event open to a wider array of people continues a goal set by VJLAP to continue to ensure access to its programming regardless of location or other limitations.

“One of the things that we learned in the pandemic was that by using Zoom and virtual platforms, a far greater number of people were able to access our services and participate in the events that we did have going on,” VJLAP Executive Director Tim Carroll said.

During the event, participants earn points by filling squares on a bingo board of various wellness activities coordinated to align with the six dimensions. The 2020 event board included activities as simple as “enjoy[ing] a non-working lunch” and “drink[ing] your water” to attending virtual mixers and wellness programs. Participants are encouraged to share each completed activity, called a “Wellness Win,” to share progress and earn points. Progress is tracked on the Wellness Wall, where participants can measure their progress against their peers and competitors.

Prizes are not listed for the 2021 Lawyer Wellness Challenge as of press time. The 2020 edition included water bottles, T-shirts and free MCLE programming, among other prizes.

A pair of programs highlight the 2021 Lawyer Wellness Challenge. On July 28, Charlottesville intellectual property and entertainment lawyer Amy Pruett will host “Desk Yoga for Attorneys,” a workshop where Pruett will provide an introduction into yoga and other stress reduction techniques. The VBA website says the one-hour Zoom workshop can be done anywhere and will give lawyers multiple stress-reduction tools.

The program is capped off with a panel discussion titled “Back to the Future: Wellness in a Time of Transition” on Aug. 4. Hosted by VJLAP, the one-hour discussion will detail strategies on how to transition back to the office after over a year of working virtually. All three VJLAP licensed professional counselors, including VJLAP Clinical Director Jim Leffler, will be in attendance.

“The impetus for having the JLAP clinicians on the panel is basically to normalize that things are not normal, and to have folks feel like they could and should have a voice in getting their needs met in a way that would be different than before the pandemic,” Van Cuyk said. “They’re calling it ‘Back to the Future,’ but you’re re-envisioning it.”

Last year’s inaugural Lawyer Wellness Challenge was held in mid-June in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the VBA website, nearly 100 people pre-registered for the event. VJLAP hopes more people engage with this year’s event and their other services as the legal profession emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, by the time people connected with us, a lot of times they were in more crisis or worse shape than what we had seen before,” Carroll said. “We’re here, and we want to help people. We want them to be the best they can be because quite honestly, the public is counting on that.”

Registration for this year’s event and information on the event programs are available on the VBA’s website.