Aug 21, 2017
In this episode, I interviewed South Carolina Circuit Judge Kristi Lea Harrington. She currently serves as the Chief Administrative Judge for General Sessions and Common Pleas for the Berkeley County, in the Ninth Judicial Circuit. Judge Harrington has completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training through Gaea Yoga School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She volunteers her yoga teaching with a local church group.
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Intro: Welcome to the Resilient Lawyer Podcast, brought to you by Start Here HQ -- a consulting company that works with lawyers to create a purpose driven and sustainable legal career. In this podcast, we have meaningful, in-depth conversations with lawyers, entrepreneurs, and change agents. We offer tools and strategies for creating a more joyful and satisfying life.
Now your host, Jeena Cho.
Jeena: In this episode, I’m so thrilled to be sitting down with Judge Harrington. She is a South Carolina Circuit Judge currently serving as the Chief Administrative Judge for general sessions and common place for the Berkeley County and the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Judge Harrington has completed her 200 hour yoga training through Gaea Yoga School in Mount Pleasant in South Carolina. She volunteers her yoga teaching with a local church group. Her passion for mindfulness and yoga has led her to be involved with the South Carolina Bar Wellness Section and Charleston Wellness Luncheons coordinated with a local attorney. Judge Harrington, I am so happy to have you on my show. Thank you for joining me.
Judge Harrington: Thank you for having me.
Jeena: To just jump right in, can you give our listeners maybe just a little brief overview of your career and how you got to be a judge.
Judge Harrington: I was the child of a attorney who was a late in life career change. I actually saw my dad change careers. He graduated from law school when I was about 9. I got to see, firsthand, some of the stressors although I didn’t, at that time, realize what it was. The change that he went through and how our family had to adapt to those stressors.
Really became interested in the law and went to the University of Tulsa. Both of my parents grew up in Tulsa. That my dad had been in the military and retired here in Charleston and then went to the University of South Carolina College of Law. I had gone to visit some relatives and ended up falling in love with Tulsa.
At that law school, at the time, they needed some geographic diversity and being from the south, they offered me admission, and so it seem like a great fit. Really began to be immerse in the District Attorney’s office. At that time, he was still the beginning of the transition where there more females in the legal profession. I was able because nobody else wanted to do the crimes against women and children, the bails, and say that’s where my niche became.
I was fortunate enough to be able to return back home in 2001 after the birth of my son, just the bar here, if there’s no reciprocity in South Carolina. Then was hired and was prosecuting crimes against women and children in the Ninth Circuit where I’m now a judge.
We are kind of a hybrid election process in South Carolina. We are elected by the General Assembly through a series of exams and interviews with community leaders and bar questionnaires in a judicial exam. The members of the General Assembly actually have an election and we are elected.
I was fortunate enough to make it through the process. They go through a very lengthy process and then there’s three individuals and then those people are actually the ones that are voted on.
At the time that I was elected to the bench, I was the youngest circuit judge and one of six females in the circuit judges in the state. So it was pretty momentous for me. I was 37 when I was elected, 38 when I took the bench. And then being so young and a female in a traditionally male dominated world, primarily only having criminal experience, I faced some challenges. I think that’s probably what led me to this mindfulness -- again back to yoga and meditation and calming techniques.
Jeena: When did you know that you are interested in being a judge? Like, to me, being a judge just feels so adult. Being a lawyer is pretty adult but being a judge is like super adult. How did that decision come about where you’re just like “Yeah, I think I would like to sit on the bench.”
Judge Harrington: I remember, and this is probably is just going to sound very cliché, but I remember when Sandra Day O’Connor got appointed. That was Ronald Reagan. That was about the time my dad was graduating law school and entering into practice and how significant it was that that was the first female on the bench.
I think that stuck with me more than anything else. Just knowing that being a judge is really… I don’t think it’s for everyone. I don’t think that’s a decision… There are some days that I miss being on the other side of the bench and actually practicing law and being an advocate. But I realized that I could really love the law and be a learner and a student of the law on this side of the bench. Just the ultimate, I think, realization of all of your efforts and hard work.
Jeena: Yeah. You touched upon just being a woman and also being a young judge. Can you share like some of the difficulties or the challenges that you’ve had to face and also, perhaps, how you sort of overcame it or if you just sort of had to accept it as it is.
Judge Harrington: Probably for the first three years because we travelled the circuit. I was travelling so often I wasn’t necessarily in the same courthouse every week. I remember coming into the courthouse, I had my robe and my laptop and everything. The bailiff was looking at me and he says “Where’s your judge?” I said “I am the judge.” He goes, “No, no, I’m waiting for Judge Harrington. Where is Judge Harrington?”
About that time I had a male law clerk. He was a non-traditional student, a little bit older, walk ed behind me and he goes, “Oh, there’s Judge Harrington” and I said “No, that’s my law clerk. I am the judge.”
I had very similar stories about that. You just try to… South Carolina is a very traditional state. You understand where people are coming from, that that deputy did not have any ill intent. He was not trying to slight me in the least. You just realize where people are coming from and go about and just do the very best that you can. I don’t have that very often anymore.
When I was running for election, I did have people ask “Who’s going to take care of your child?” That was less than 10 years ago. I’ve been on the bench now 9 years. I don’t know that the female judges, the candidates that are running now have that same questions asked of them. But, again, I think you have to determine how offended are you going to be. Why did that person ask that question and what was really the reasoning behind it?
While it’s not pleasant when you’re dealing with it, I think that we all… For me, it was just questions that people were asking out loud and I think, sometimes, the same biases and prejudice are hidden. I was fortunate that people were saying these things out loud to me so that I could deal with them and confront them head on.
Jeena: When I think about doing something that seems very important like becoming a judge, like really what I sort of notice is that kind of like that inner credit. It’s like, “Wait, you don’t know enough. Who do you think you are?” I’m curious, did you sort of have to wrestle with that as you were kind of going through the judgeship or even like once you took the bench because you’re a baby judge. I’m sure there’s a lot of those moments where you’re just like “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?”
Judge Harrington: I have those moments every day. I don’t think that it ever gets any better, or at least it hasn’t for me. While I was running, I just didn’t know enough to be scared about the process. It just seemed… We, as lawyers, think that we’re invincible. We can do whatever it is that we set our minds to and, I think, for me that was the next logical step and there was an opportunity and I was going to make that opportunity available to me.
But the inner critique, every day, because, for me, what I do matters to so many people in so many levels. It matters not only to the defendant but it matters to the victim, the attorneys that are involved, the community, and to the legal profession and to what my decisions stand for around the state and then potentially could impact decisions around the country, depending upon if they are appealed. I have made a bad decision and it makes bad law and so I think about those things.
I want everybody that comes in front of my court to feel that they might not have been given a perfect trial because there is no such thing and the law does not require that. But that they got a fair trial and they had the opportunity to be heard.
Jeena: Yeah, which I really think is really what people want at the end of the day. Like an opportunity where they feel like they were truly heard. I certainly find that with my clients. People might be sort of fighting about the money but that’s really not what the fight is about, you know, so there’s like all of these sort of underlying things that’s happening in every case. If you can sort of address that in some way just by like listening to them, that kind of gives people that sense of, “Yeah, like I was heard. Even though the judge didn’t rule in my favor, I feel like I was treated fairly.”
Judge Harrington: I hear that a lot from defendants or when I’m doing criminal cases. From defense attorneys, my client just wants to talk to you. He just wants his day in court. It’s that opportunity to have his side of the story or her side of the story heard and acknowledged even though it legally may not be the winning argument or anything of that nature. They just want the acknowledgement that what they said is important.
Jeena: I would also imagine that just having to really focus and sort of pour all of your attention hour after hour, day after day, can feel very tiring and can certainly lead to potential burn out and, of course, all of these issues that lawyers face, and I’m sure judges face to a certain extent. What are some practices that you do on a, sort of a regular basis, to sort of recharge your own battery so that you can continue to be a judge that’s attentive and just fully present?
Judge Harrington: Those are really good questions. The question that I struggle with on a daily basis is how do I get everything that I need to get done in the day done well and practice self-care? That’s the struggle. Always it’s preparation. It’s constantly, for me, looking ahead and saying “What can I get done that is truly important? What can I either delegate or cut out in order to carve time?” We all know if we don’t put it on the calendar, it’s not going to get done.
I have been on Sunday afternoon looking at my calendar and scheduling in my favorite yoga classes and I started spin class. Scheduling to make sure that those things are on the calendar and I treat them like an appointment. I go ahead and sign up for the class so there’s a penalty to me if I don’t show up. I will be charged a late fee, or something of that nature. I think then that holds me accountable and my staff knows the calendar and set aside a time for me.
It does mean that some days I have to be at the gym at 5:30 in the morning in order to get it done. But I know that that’s what I need to get done just for the mental clarity. I think a lot of people think because judges sit so much that they’re lazy and they can’t be tired but it’s mentally exhausting.
Especially if I’m doing a multi defendant construction case, that I may have 20 attorneys involved in one case and it’s me and my one law clerk. When they bring me 3 and 4 inch binders every attorney, it’s a juggling act and, I think, attorneys forget. I don’t have the staff behind me that they think that they have access to or that they may think that I do. I’m unable to read and listen and write all at the same time.
I think that being really protective of your time and not wasting it, keep it a sacred space and you know, “Okay, this is important to me and I’ve got to concentrate or focus on this particular case but I’m going to give you the 2 hours that you’ve allotted. And then I’m going to move on to the next thing because that’s just as important.”
Jeena: Yeah. Those are all such great points. And I love that you actually calendar in self-care time because often when I talk to lawyers, they’ll have 26 things that’s on their to-do list and maybe yoga class ends up on the bottom of that list and I’m always like “No, yoga class doesn’t belong on the bottom of your to-do list.”
Judge Harrington: Right. Right. I also teach at the law school and I make it a priority for every semester that I have some sort of wellness activity. That we have a yoga class as a class, that we have a spin class, that we do something outside of the law school that has nothing to do, it’s not for a grade, there’s no judgments. It’s just to have fun totally for the mindfulness and to take care of yourself. Just to start cultivating those practices.
Because, for me, as wonderful as I try to be, that’s the first thing that goes. If I’m tired then I don’t make that 6:15 or 5:30 spin class and then you just never make that back up. Making and realizing how much better you feel.
I also think it’s really important to reach out to people that you see may be struggling and say “Hey, what are you doing Friday? I'm trying this new class at yoga. What do you think about going with me someday?”
I think that’s important too that when you see your friends and she says “I haven’t seen you at the yoga studio. Where have you been?” That’s also something you fell.
Jeena: Yeah. I find that all of these sort of healthy behaviors make it easier to link additional healthy behaviors. So if you know you have to be up at 5:30 for a yoga class, that also means you have to go to bed earlier so you get sufficient amount of sleep because you don’t want to show up to yoga class sleepy, and tired, and cranky. Which also then means you have to eat dinner a little bit earlier and it also probably means you’re probably not going to want to eat like something super unhealthy because then you’re not going to feel very good in yoga class the next day. I find that all of these healthy behaviors link to one another. Also, the really importance of making these a habit in your daily life.
Judge Harrington: Right. Simple things like that, to me, were also competitive. So I have a Fitbit, that I have several Fitbit friends, some are other judges.
Jeena: I love that.
Judge Harrington: Every so often we’ll get… I’ll send a challenge to see how many steps we can do in a week. I’ve got reports back that some of my judges are in their courthouses just walking up and down the hallways just so that they can beat me. Those are good things.
Judge Harrington: Because if we just sit -- as judges, particularly, we sit so much. If I’m traveling to different county, I may be in the car for 90 minutes before I even get to the courthouse. So that means that I am really almost sitting 12 hours a day. Then by the time you get home, you’re having to prepare for the day the next day reading cases and getting caught up from emails and those things. You’ve just got to say.
But, I think, it is so important once you just get started going to yoga class. It’s going to be… you get to bed earlier. It means you’re going to be drinking more water and eating better. So, I think, they all do kind of intertwine and play into each other.
Jeena: Yeah, definitely.
We’ve kind of talked about yoga but… I guess maybe a good place to start is just have you explain like what exactly is yoga?
Judge Harrington: I have my… so we went through yoga teacher training but before then, I don’t have one that really definition of yoga. I have done aerial yoga. Tried that. I’ve done laughing yoga, I’ve done Bikram, hot yoga. Again, I’ve done various styles of yogas. So as far as what styles of yoga, I think there’s a variety.
I think where a lot of lawyers are non-practicing yogis get caught up as they think that you’re going to go into this room and you’re going to be chanting and all these contorted poses and that’s just not at all what it is. I have yoga teachers in all shapes and sizes. There’s not one body shape or one background for a yogi.
For me what yoga is is the opportunity. What it means for me is the opportunity to take that time to reconnect my mind, and my breath, and my body. To kind of bringing them all back into a union and then forgetting that for just however long I can do that. Forgetting yet, at the same time, being able to be in touch with the breath and the body and letting all that crazy -- we call it crazy monkey mind -- stop.
Judge Harrington: That I’m not worried about the client’s view and did I meet that deadline? And I’m not worried about what opposing counsel Bob said to me today. And I’m not worried about what my husband said to me on the way out of the house this morning. Is the dinner ready and all of these things.
It’s just that time it take to get that center the way we needed it to be.
Jeena: I love that.
You talk about sort of this union of mind and body and I find that -- especially with layers, we play such a high value on the mind. I had lawyers tell me things like, “Well, my body is just there to carry my head around.” That was kind of funny.
Can you just talk a little bit about the importance of creating that union between the mind and body. Because, I think, just so often, lawyers… like I said, they place such a high value on just their mind. So when you talk about bringing a union to those two things, what does that mean and like why is it important?
Judge Harrington: What I understand the true purpose of yoga was to train the body and condition the body for you to be able to sit for extended periods of time, to meditate, and to utilize the highest potential of the mind. The very traditional pose is not the aerial yoga or things like that but the very traditional yoga poses are… that’s what they were was the conditioning of the body, to allow the mind to achieve its highest function.
When you think about that, sometimes that explanation will give attorneys or the skeptics so they can buy into that concept. That it’s not just a bunch of chanting or people in lululemon pants walking down with a cute yoga bag. There’s actually a purpose behind every one of the poses.
I know, again, just from sitting, if I don’t engage in… If you want to call it stretching, it’s better for you to wrap your head that I’m going to go to stretch class, that’s fine. But that’s what helps, in just the physical aspect of yoga, is allowing the blood to flow where it needs to flow. That we loosen up the fascia and the blockage and all of those things to allow our body to function the way that it needs to function.
Again, it’s not about being a particular size or shape, it’s about making sure your body is functioning and flowing the way that it needs to flow. The blood is getting to the brain as our bodies are designed to do in order for your mind to function at the highest.
If I’m sitting and I’m uncomfortable because my hips are tied and that my muscles are not loose enough and I’m stressed and clenched, I’m not focused on what I need to be focused on.
Judge Harrington: If I’m able to breathe into that tightness then that allows the body to get out of the way so the mind can takeover.
Jeena: I guess maybe like a simple way of… or like a simple example might be when you have the flu, it makes it really, really hard to do all of your work because your body’s not feeling good. It just makes sense that when your body feels good that it naturally makes it easier to focus, and concentrate, and have your mind perform at optimal peak.
Judge Harrington: Right.
Jeena: I’m curious, you went through yoga teacher training, you’re teaching yoga. Have you sort of noticed the benefits of your yoga practice kind of going off the mat? So does it help you a better judge? Does it help you to be a better mom? Does yoga sort of help you in other arenas of your life than just the obvious sort of physical benefits?
Judge Harrington: I think, kind of all the aspects that we’ve touched on, it helps in every aspect. For me it puts what’s important back in focus. It’s a calming influence as well that I realize if I can hold the pose for 90 seconds, or 30 seconds, or work through the pain, then I can get through this situation. I could breathe in a certain way that I am able to take my emotions out of it and really start working from the conscience, in consciousness than the emotions.
Because people don’t come in front of me for happy reasons. I do felony criminal and common pleas which is civil. And, typically, I’m doing medical malpractice or a million dollar construction defect cases. People are coming to me because there’s a serious issue. People aren’t coming to me with happy thoughts. There’s a lot of emotion.
Somebody lost their child or their house has been taken away. For me, the yoga does help me put that in notion where it needs to be so that I’m not taking it home and giving it back to my child in an improper way. I’m not yelling at my son because of the way that a witness was on the witness stand. Or the way a defense attorney spoke to me in court. Think that it helps me get through the day and realize what the true emotion is and what the purpose of what it is that I’m doing.
Jeena: I always love yoga practice because it’s like a space where… Of course you kind of have to have this mindset that I can just show up as I am. I can show up tired, I can show up cranky, I can show up and to just kind of do the best that I can. For me, that’s just been such a huge learning. It’s not about trying to force your body or contort your body to look like the yoga instructor’s shape but it’s all about sort of meeting yourself exactly where you are in that moment. I think that’s such a great way to sort of approach life.
Judge Harrington: Right. There’s some days I do have a yoga mat set up in my home, in a room if I can’t make it to class. I do prefer going to a class. But if I’m in a hotel room because I’m traveling or at home, there’s just some days that I’m okay with just being in child’s pose on the mat. And that may be my practice for the day, that I have 20 minutes of child’s pose or a 20-minute savasana and that’s just okay. I think that’s exactly what you were saying that sometimes we expect so much of others that it’s nice for us to take that and say “I’m okay right here, right now.”
Jeena: Yeah, so true.
Of course, one of the things that we all struggle would is trying to find time; trying to find time for rest and for yoga and for enjoying time out in nature. Do you have suggestions or tips for, you know, actually like carving out time in your life.
Judge Harrington: Again, that’s a huge struggle because I think we’re being pulled not only as lawyers but as women and parents and spouses, friends, that we’re being pulled in in so many different ways. And for us to say “I’m going to take a 50-minute, or 1 hour, a 90-minute yoga class and take that time out of the short amount of time that we do have.” Especially those… I’m very fortunate. I’m not living by the billable hour and so I think for attorneys that live by the 15-minute increment, it’s really hard to justify taking that block of time.
But I know that it’s two-fold. I get rewarded not only for the time that I’m there but it’s an ongoing and I can feel the benefits into the next day. And I also feel the consequences when I don’t go. I feel cranky. My body is not performing at its best. I’m responding in ways that I don’t wish to respond.
I think we want to be the best that we can as lawyers, attorneys, and judges. We just need to make sure that we take a moment and kind of what is it? Is this really helping me to have that best life and to achieve what it is that I want? Taking something out may be what you need to do in order to put something better in.
Do you really need to be on every bar committee? Do you really need stay and go to every function that your law firm has? Can you say “I’m going to do one function a week and make sure that I do three yoga classes a week” instead of going to every happy hour.
Jeena: Yeah. And I think that is just the reality, right? That there are only 24 hours in a day and so time is one of our most precious resources. So I think we have to be sort of [unclear 00:34:02] sort of protect and guard how we allocate our time and also just be mindful about other people sort of taking our time without like our permission maybe or just kind of watching.
And I’ve been noticing, in terms of how I manage my inbox because that’s really one area where people can just demand all kinds of time from you. So now I’ve just gotten just more protective about how much time I spend in my inbox. For a lot of us, that’s where we spend just a tremendous amount of time.
When I sent you a list of questions and I asked you about how do you overcome your resistance, you offered an answer that I really love. I would love for you to sort of expand on it. But you said, “Ask yourself what can you do today that your older self will thank you for.” I thought that was such a great advice. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Judge Harrington: My yoga instructor at Gaea, Kate Smith, was wonderful and kind of started laying that thought process. She wasn’t teaching us to be today. She was also teaching us to be in great health when we’re 90. Talking about that, in her focus, was always on the anatomy and the spine and being protective of getting movement into your body, no matter what it look like. It didn’t have to be a particular pose but just making sure that you were utilizing the function of your body. And that we see, as we are ageing and we’re becoming an older population, that people are breaking hips and needing knee replacements and hip replacements even now at younger ages and it’s because we had become so sedentary.
I think to myself, “Alright, I really…” like today I had to go to a luncheon and there was a wonderful piece of key lime pie. I wanted that key lime pie because it had been a particularly trying day for me in court, and I knew I was going to have a equally challenging afternoon. I thought “You know that pie will make me feel good and I want that pie.” But I thought to myself “I don’t need that because that sugar and all of the contents of that pie, not only… it’s not the calories, it’s everything else.”
When I don’t want to exercise I think, “What is it that I’m not doing for my body that at 70 I will wish that I had done?” I think, as I get older -- I just had a birthday, I just turned 48 -- 70 seems to be coming quicker.
I probably, at 25, would have thought the same thing and now 70 does not seem that old. But what I want to do for me and for my best 70-year old self, or 80-year old self, is what can I do today?
I think when you look at it like that, it’s not about the traditional concept of beauty and thinness and exercise. It is “What am I doing to create a healthy lifestyle that can fit into my daily life that does require me to be at work for a particular schedule.
I don’t get to work out. I can’t work out 24 hours a day as much as I would love to do yoga for hours at a time. I don’t have that ability because I do love what I do as a judge. But I can do little small things everyday that will help me keep flexible and it’s touching the toes and just moving the spine and doing those things. I am certainly not a bendy yogi, by any mean, but I do like to move and make sure that every body part and muscle group is utilized.
Jeena: Yeah. That’s so important.
Anyway, you just actually talked about something I want to ask about is that just being flexible. Often, I think, people have this idea like “Oh, I can’t do yoga unless I’m super flexible.” So for the listeners that are complete newbies and maybe they feel inspired to go and try a yoga class, what do you think about that, that whole… Do you have to be flexible to practice yoga?
Judge Harrington: No, you do not have to be flexible to practice yoga. I think that’s a really common misperception about what yoga is. You don’t have to be flexible. The only thing you have to be flexible about is going and allowing yourself to have that opportunity. Again, it’s not about can you get into this twisted position? You talked about it beautifully. I am going to be on my mat and do what I can do today. That’s what yoga is. Whatever it is that you can do today, that’s where you need to be today.
Judge Harrington: That’s where you need to meet yourself on the mat. What really is a beautiful thing and I think people get caught up me in your neighbor next to you on the mat. Don’t worry about that person. You don’t know what that person’s been through. We focus a lot on anatomy and structural variation. Your body is not like my body and we all know that there are structural variations, even amongst our size.
When we try to do bilateral poses, we can do a tree pose as a great example. You may be able, on your left leg, to hold 3 to 4 hours but never even be able to stand it all and balance on your right leg. Judging what your neighbor is doing on the mat is never what you need to do and I think that’s another really good life lesson to take from yoga.
Jeena: Totally, yeah.
Judge Harrington: There’s times that I go to a class and I have absolutely no balance because I’m not focused and I’ve let something else get into my head and so I don’t get frustrated. I would appear, probably from the observer, that I wasn’t flexible but that’s not what we’re doing in yoga.
Jeena: Yeah. I notice the same thing happens in my daily meditation practice is sometimes I’ll sit and I’ll have what seems like just endless streams of thoughts and a lot of those thoughts are unpleasant. You can easily get into this mode of like just judging, “Ugh, I shouldn’t have been thinking, I shouldn’t have been remembering that,” and then judging, judging, judging. But rather if you can sort of take a step back and kind of approach it with curiosity, right?
If you can say “Well, yesterday I meditated and it felt really good and I didn’t have that many thoughts but today it feels different.” We can bring that same sense of like curiosity to our yoga mat. It’s like “Huh. I have this thing called the body and how is it feeling today? Why is it that I was able to do the tree pose on my left leg yesterday and then today I can’t?” Yeah, I think just sort of holding that judgment that we all have with a lot of kindness. As lawyers we’re such perfectionist. I think this is such a great life lesson.
Judge Harrington: Yes, because I don’t know any perfect yogis. Even I have wonderful yoga instructors and teachers that came during the training but they are not perfect and they will tell you as well.
“Yesterday’s pose is not going to look like today’s pose, as much as you wanted to” to give up that attachment to what the pose looks like. And more important, to what you were saying, what does it feel like today?
Jeena: Yeah. Yeah.
Judge Harrington: And to let go of that perfection, the pursuit of the perfect posture.
Judge Harrington: I love going into the Yoga Studios that I haven’t been try to go when I’m travelling to different locations, just always so welcoming. I would take that anybody that has never done yoga before wanted to try yoga, that that would be absolutely the best place to go because everybody is… they’re welcoming. I’ve never been to a studio and see the new person come in that the people did not just envelop that person with love and encouragement.
Jeena: Yeah, totally.
Also, you mentioned this earlier, there are so many different types of yoga. So I think it’s also probably worthwhile to try a few different ones and just find something that works for you. I’ve also notice just depending on… I don’t know if that’s just like ageing or for various reasons like I’ll fall in and out of different yoga’s. Like I’ve done Hatha yoga for a really long time, and then I did Bikram for a really long time, and now I’m doing more like Yen yoga. So I think it’s important to try different yogas and also try different instructors, right? Because I find some instructors are sort of better at holding that sort of space very kindly. I may also be perceiving the instructor as well.
Judge Harrington: No, I think that’s very, very true that there’s some that you’re feeding off their energy. And so it could be… You could take the same yoga class, the same sequence, with two different instructors and it would be totally different experiences. During training I experience that. Not that one is better or worse, they’re just different. What you find and what you need to guide you through that experience may be different from what I want or need.
I went through a period where all I did was Yen and now I, for some reason, have cycled back through and I’m doing a lot of Bikram.
Jeena: Oh, nice.
Judge Harrington: I think with where you are mentally and physically and what you’ve got going on physiologically with your body, your makeup, and what you’re hoping to achieve. And, I think, the studio matters. My local Bikram studio just changed owners so it’s a different feeling and I like the new instructor. It’s a really positive place.
Jeena: Judge Harrington, we’re kind of coming to the end of our conversation together. I just want to pause and see if there’s anything that you wanted to touch upon or any advice that you’d like to offer to our listeners or just want to see if there’s anything that wants to be said.
Judge Harrington: Well, I just… no matter where… If I’m speaking to a group of lawyers, I always encourage them not only to make sure that they’re taking care of themselves and whatever that looks like for them. I have attorney friends that are runners and that’s their meditation phase.
However it is that you’re taking care of you, that you have something that you’re carving out that time to reconnect with your body and your mind and that you realize how important it is to take care of you before it’s too late.
Likewise, to always be aware that other attorneys may be having challenges and to be kind when an attorney may not be as kind back to you or who may seem to be struggling to step back and make sure that that attorney has something. Maybe offer “Would you like to go get… do you want to go to a yoga class?” or to do something to make sure that that attorney… Because we are sometimes not… we’re tough on ourselves, certainly, but sometimes we do not lend that hand. We tend to be more adversarial than collegial.
So I encourage the collegiality because this is such a hard way to make a living and it can be difficult on the mind and the body and your relationships if you’re not well-balanced and grounded.
Jeena: Yeah, I love that advice. Much appreciated.
So my final question is this. The name of this podcast is called The Resilient Lawyer. What does it mean to be a resilient lawyer to you?
Judge Harrington: Excellent question.
It means that things are not always going to go well. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee you that things are not going to go well.
Judge Harrington: But that you acknowledge that things are not going to go well and that you have prepared for that. That’s when the judge rules against you or when you have not prepared or missed a deadline or something, that you have skills and tools in place to stand back up and be who you need to be. And that you have separated the profession and your profession from your individuality, from your person and who you are.
Jeena: That’s so important. I really want to just thank you so much for being on the show, for sharing your time with me and the audience. I really appreciate it.
Judge Harrington: Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure.
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