Stephanie Hayes

Stephanie Hayes headshot
Stephanie Hayes with significant other and two dogs

Stephanie Hayes is an attorney with the Division of Administrative Hearings, Office of Judges of Compensation Claims, in Tallahassee.

When in need of a quick recharge I … eat a square of dark chocolate, talk to a coworker, take a quick nap, stretch with a foam roller.

My preferred method of exercise is … lifting heavy weights. I did cardio for years until last June. I wish I had made the switch years ago!

The first thing I do when I wake up is … head to the gym and get a quick massage before working out. I start my day having already accomplished one important task. The result is I feel chipper and alert by the time I get to work.

I am most productive during the day when I … make a list of tasks to complete and put my phone away.

The best advice I’ve received about balancing work and life is … don’t put yourself in a financial position where you can’t leave a job or turn down a case you shouldn’t accept. Early in my career, I found myself in a position that was a poor fit and it was so stressful my health suffered. When presented with the opportunity to take a much less stressful job, I was able to easily make the decision, even though it represented a pay cut. One reason I jumped at my current position is that I like and deeply respect the people I work for and with. For me, working with people I love and being able to maintain a work-life balance is more important than making as much as I can.

The one thing I would tell a stressed-out and overwhelmed young lawyer is … clean up your diet, go to the gym, and find a mentor. If that doesn’t work, find another job. Life is too short to remain in a position that is slowly killing you.

Every day I make sure to … eat right. I didn’t understand the toll that eating poorly was taking on my body and mood until I removed certain foods from my diet. I have more energy and mental clarity and no longer have headaches, achy knees, brain fog, afternoon exhaustion, “hanger” or stomachaches. And I lost 75 pounds!

On a typical Saturday night you will find me … with my husband and my two handsome Australian shepherds, traveling, or out to dinner with friends.

My guilty pleasure is … dark chocolate, cashews, red wine and murder documentaries.

The quickest way to ruin your career is … to lose your credibility.

The worst piece of advice I ever received was … when I was in law school, a professor discouraged me from going out for law review because it was stressful. I was told not to work too hard, not to focus on grades, and only do enjoyable extracurriculars. Following that advice lead to more stress later, as I was precluded from certain jobs because I lacked journal experience. The truth is, anything worth having, from a strong marriage to a strong body to a strong career, takes a lot of work.

My favorite hobby is … photography! Besides the joy of capturing moments, photography forced me out of my comfort zone and led to networking opportunities. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph everything from law graduates and weddings to ABA presidents and Florida Supreme Court justices.

The one thing that concerns me most about the future of the legal profession is … the increasing number of law schools graduating more and more students with crushing student loan debt while the industry shifts to lower-paying jobs and outsourcing legal work.

The most relaxing vacation I ever took was … to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. We try to get away for a beach trip every six months even if it’s just for a long weekend. We always have a trip planned that we are looking forward to.

The best life lesson I ever learned was … to go for it! To try! Apply for that job you don’t think you’ll get. Join that committee. Run for that position. Lift that weight. Don’t let the fear of not being good enough hold you back.

The happiest lawyers are those who … find fulfillment in the profession. I think one thing that contributes to that is mentoring and being mentored. I mentored students while in law school and continued after graduation. It’s rewarding to pass on your love of law and watch those you have mentored go on to succeed.

The best way to promote health and wellness among lawyers is … acknowledge the stress associated with the profession and the toll that stress takes on a person. People often feel inadequate when they experience work-related stress. This makes people less likely to reach out to others who may be experiencing the same thing, or to find mentors or counselors to help them process. The result is stressed-out, isolated attorneys working themselves to death or self-medicating.