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Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Lawyer Well-being Newsletter: Helping Lawyers Improve Brain Health & Mental Strength

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Empowering Brain Cells

Move a muscle, change a thought. The brain has two superpowers: neuroplasticity (the capacity to grow and change its network of brain cells with every experience, action, and thought) and neurogenesis (the capacity to grow new brain cells in the memory-processing hippocampus for its entire lifespan).  Much of what scientists

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Anxiety & Attention Span

Emotions impact our ability to think and concentrate because they are automatic physical responses triggered by events in our lives.  The primary emotions described by psychologists are fear, anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and joy.  Feelings are our perceptions of our body’s involuntary reactions to emotions.  When our brain’s panic button,

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Resonant Leadership

Lawyers are inevitably leaders in all positions they hold due to their privilege, power, prestige, and responsibility.~ Randall Kiser ~ Effective leaders develop resonant relationships with their community members.  Resonant leaders are empathetic, deploying high emotional intelligence.  They inspire others, invite multiple perspectives, and value prosocial behaviors.  Dissonant leaders are

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Neuroscience of Empathy

“The buffalo and the coyote are our brothers; the birds, our cousins.  Even the tiniest ant, even a louse, even the smallest flower you can find – they are all our relatives.  We end our prayers with the words mitakuye oyasin – ‘all my relations’ – and that includes everything

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Exercise & Memory

Aerobic exercise, any activity that raises your heart rate, improves cognitive capacity.  New research indicates that improved blood flow to the memory-processing hippocampus may explain how cognitive function is improved. The study involved 30 participants with mild cognitive impairment who trained for 25-30 minutes, 3 times per week for a

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Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has numerous antioxidants and it has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  A study of nearly 21,000 people published in the British Cardiovascular Journal Heart found that higher chocolate intake, compared to lower chocolate consumption, was associated with significantly lower coronary heart disease risk and

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Decision Fatigue

Lawyers are inevitably leaders in all positions they hold due to their privilege, power, prestige, and responsibility.~ Randall Kiser ~ With great responsibility comes considerable decision-making.  When we make a lot of decisions, we can suffer from decision fatigue, which can lead to poor health outcomes such as weight gain.

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Trauma & High Intelligence

Social distancing and uncertainty about the dangers of COVID-19 are causing collective social trauma.  We think of trauma as being caused by things like a natural disaster, wartime violence, or a mass shooting.  But this virus is creating shared suffering, threatening both our physical and mental well-being.  Feeling periodically or

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Nutrition & Healthy Immune System

A healthy immune system will help the body deal with bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.  Foods that support the immune system are a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans; high-fiber foods; oily fish; and lean meat.  These foods sustain a healthy immune system in the following ways:

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Exercise & Anti-Aging

Exercise is the most powerful activity lawyers can undertake to enhance brain function.  A 2011 meta-analysis of 1,603 articles on the relationship between cognition and exercise found that exercise can prevent cognitive decline and heal cognitive impairment.  Exercisers had larger hippocampus volumes (the structure where memories are processed and stored)

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Gratitude, Apr. 16, 2020 Research that surveyed over 24,000 attorneys from all 50 states, examining the characteristics that make a new lawyer effective, found that optimism was one of the important qualities of success.  Lawyers utilize critical thinking and worst-case scenarios to identify and solve problems for clients.  These pessimistic

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Take a Breath to Induce Calm

Apr. 9, 2020 – You can engage the rest-and-digest recovery system to help control the fight-or-flight stress response. Your tool is your breath. Slow managed breathing can reduce anxiety. Sit comfortably, feel the ground beneath your feet, and slowly inhale followed by a gradual exhale. You can count the beats,

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