Mindfulness Expert Scott Rogers Receives DBR's Sookie Williams Award


Miami Law's Scott L. Rogers, a Lecturer in Law who has made a name for himself by urging law students to be cognizant of stress and how to deal with it, has received the Daily Business Review's Sookie Williams Award, given for outstanding service to the legal community. Rogers was given the award on Sept. 21 at the Dade County Bar Association's Installation Luncheon.

"What's especially nice is that it is because of the work being done with mindfulness and the law," Rogers said. He attributed the honor to his founding and directing of the country's first Mindfulness in Law program at any law school, in 2011, and to his teaching the first for-credit mindfulness class for law students, which he began doing the previous year.

This year, Rogers founded the Dade-County Bar Association and Federal Bar Association's Mindfulness in Law Task Force, the first in the country, a body of which he is co-chair. In 2007, he offered the first Mindfulness and Law CLE program in Florida. As far back as 1998, Rogers assembled one of the first mindfulness presentations for lawyers in the country.

Rogers and Jan L. Jacobowitz – a Lecturer in Law and Director of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program at Miami Law – are the authors of the book Mindfulness and Professional Responsibility, published by Mindful Living Press.

In an article published earlier this month in the National Law Journal, titled "How to learn the law without losing your mind," the University of Miami School of Law was described as being "on the forefront" of efforts to ensure that students attain balance in their lives. The article, by Karen Sloan, says that Miami Law "has offered an expanding series of programs since 2008 that are geared toward helping students focus on the present, connect with others, reduce distractions and improve their response to stress."

"The school's first-of-its-kind Mindfulness and Law program includes both credit and noncredit classes in which students explore mindfulness in the context of professional responsibility and learn to leverage emotional intelligence throughout their legal careers," Sloan writes. "Additionally, about one-fifth of the school's new students each year participate in its voluntary Jurisight program, spending eight weeks focusing on the challenges that law school presents and how to meet them."

The article quotes Rogers: "It changes the 1L experience, because they're learning to relate to the uncertainty and challenges coming their way. Rather than see these things as problems, they begin to say, 'Ah, something that's unknown. How interesting is that?'"

Two years ago, Miami Law launched another program, a Student Development Initiative, requiring each 1L student to meet with a counselor at least once during their first semester, the National Law Journal article said. The "student development director" is not an academic adviser, but listens to students and guides them as they acclimate to law school. The directors also refer students to the university's counseling center if they are struggling with more serious problems. "They are really a go-to person for students when they need someone to listen," Rogers told the publication.

In June 2011, the Sookie Williams Award went to another Miami Law faculty member, Bernard Perlmutter, an Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Children & Youth Law Clinic.

The award is named after a vice president at the Daily Business Review. Williams started working there in 1973, processing legal notices, according to the newspaper's website. She created its Court Pages, a daily compendium of court directories, contact information for judges and bench and bar notices. Williams manages all court information for Miami-Dade County and is a liaison with the state and federal judiciary and Miami-Dade's state and federal clerks of court, as well as the various Bar associations in the county.