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Happy Thanksgiving from Above the Law

Let’s face it: lawyers aren’t great about giving gratitude.

Yesterday we posted a Quote of the Day urging readers to take stock of their blessings and to be thankful for them. The quotation and its source were promptly mocked.

On Thanksgiving Day, it’s appropriate to ask: Why aren’t lawyers better about giving thanks?

Debra Cassens Weiss explores the subject over at the ABA Journal. She cites the Lawyers Wellbeing Blog, which in turn cites gratitude researcher Robert Emmons of UC Davis:

I asked Dr. Emmons if he had ever spoken to a group of lawyers. He told me he did once and he had never before or since encountered a bunch of people more resistive to embracing an attitude of gratitude, except perhaps teenagers.

(If you’re surprised to hear that lawyers are like teenagers, you need to read the Above the Law comments section more often.)

[S]ome of the main obstacles to being grateful are fears of dependence, indebtedness, and loss of control. Lawyers are people who emphasize self-control and self-reliance. They don’t want to cede control to others or owe anybody anything. It may also have to do with lawyers being called upon to face and solve problems all day long. When all you think about are problems it’s harder to feel grateful.

Or even just to be in a decent mood. There are a lot of angry, bitter, stressed-out lawyers in the world.

Being controlling, critical and cynical can help you excel as a lawyer. If you’re a control freak, you’re less likely to make an expensive error when drafting an offering plan. If you’re a critical thinker, you’re less likely to miss the weaknesses in the other side’s brief. If you’re cynical and suspicious, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of during the discovery process.

But such traits, while often valued in the legal profession, aren’t going to make you a better person, or even someone who’s fun to be around. Try to turn them off when they’re not required — especially over this long holiday weekend, which you’re hopefully spending with family and friends. It’s Thanksgiving, so try to be grateful rather than grumbling (even if you have just cause for grumbling).

In closing, we thank you, our readers, for all that you do. Thank you for visiting ATL, for reading what we write (even when it’s idiotic or wrong), for your comments (even the mean ones), and for all the great tips you send in — by email, by text message, and by other means as well.

What are you thankful for on this annual day of gratitude? Let us know, in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving, from your friends at Above the Law!

P.S. Programming note: We’ll return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, November 29. Between now and then, we’ll play it by ear in terms of how much we write: we might post a lot, or a little, or nothing at all, depending on how we feel and what the news cycle is like.

Gratitude Researcher Says Lawyers Are a Difficult Crowd [ABA Journal]
Remember to Be Grateful, Lawyers [Legal Intelligencer]

Earlier: Quote of the Day: Happy Thanksgiving, Counselors

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