Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein LLP November 2019

NOV 2019

(908) 293-7330 |

Perspectives PMB

MEET ANTHONY MURGATROYD Our Newest ‘Of Counsel’ Attorney With a Mission We Can Learn From

Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein will soon add a new “of counsel” member to its team. Anthony Murgatroyd has been practicing law for over 30 years, and he has known Lisa Pezzano Mickey for more than 15 years. He’s a current member and former trustee of the New Jersey State Bar and a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Jersey Association for Justice. He’s a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, as well as a Nationally Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney with the National Board of Trial Advocacy. I’ve had a successful practice of my own for about 20 years now. But five years ago, two things happened: First, I noticed that no matter how much I prepared my clients, they would always say and do things that stunned me. The pressures of going through the litigation process overwhelmed them and impacted their performance in depositions and at trial. Second, I was feeling bogged down by the stress of my career and needed to find ways to relax. But I was nowhere near ready to quit, and clients still needed counsel. That’s when I begin to shift my outlook on how to be calm under pressure and how to be more effective for my clients. I decided to learn stress-reduction techniques for myself and to teach my clients. The pressures of being in a legal situation are taxing for both client and attorney because there are so many moving parts: Adversaries, claims adjusters, and courts all add pressure to an already stressful situation. So, I began actively practicing mindful health and wellness for myself and teaching what I have learned to my clients. I started by reading about psychology and performance to learn how the human brain reacts to stress. That led to taking classes on

the subject and pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. I began writing tips and articles about approaching situations with calmness. For five years, I’ve been a licensed mindfulness-based stress- reduction instructor. I believe that when you are nervous, it’s because a voice inside you is talking about inadequacies you feel. There are many simple techniques you can practice to make yourself calmer. For example, getting in tune with different parts of your body and focusing on what you’re physically feeling shifts focus away from anything stewing in your brain. For me, I try to identify the “trigger areas” in my environment. These are areas where I am prone to experiencing adverse physical and mental reactions, such as my office phone, the mail bin, or my car. I put a sticker of an owl and a STOPP card in these areas. STOPP stands for S top, T ake a Breath, P ull back and bring in some perspective, and P roceed. When I see that call come in on the caller ID from a dreaded adversary or I sit in bumper-to- bumper traffic, the owl and STOPP card remind me to take a moment to pause, breathe in and out, and just notice where my mind is (past, present, and future), what sensations I am noticing in my body, and what feelings I am experiencing at that moment. All of these practices help to keep me calm and stay present. When you’re calm, your head is clear and able to make better decisions. Seeing the success of simple alterations to my practices over the last five years has changed my outlook on my work and my effectiveness in advocating for my clients. I continue to write articles and books, host seminars, and work with the New Jersey State Bar on ways to de- escalate and de-stress. They’ve embraced the

process and even host a “wellness lounge” once a year where lawyers learn effective techniques from experts like me. Attention to mental health is only just starting to become popular in the practice of law, and I hope to continue marrying the two worlds as effectively as I can. I still remain a forceful advocate, but I don’t get too angry anymore. Or, at least, I try not to let it show. It’s better to be kind. It’s more disarming than aggression, can lead to better outcomes, and puts less stress on your well-being. My goal is to advocate moving the law in a new direction, one that values mindfulness in practice, because while we may not ever be perfect, we can certainly be better. I’m excited to work with Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein because they’re enthusiastic about the benefits of mindful practice. They see its benefits for themselves and their clients, and I can’t wait to show them just how valuable it can truly be. –Anthony Murgatroyd | 1

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