For all my talk about finding a healthy work life balance based on doing stuff, I’m here to report that there is a very real limit to how much you can actually do. This limit is dictated by your need to sleep.
Unfortunately, in the last month I had to learn this lesson the hard way. With work becoming increasingly busy and having taken on one too many outside projects, I was averaging about five hours a night for a full four weeks. Throughout this time, the effects of sleep deprivation slowly began to destroy my life.
To be fair, I was able to get by okay in the first week. By week two, however, coffee stopped having any meaningful effect and my ability to focus diminished greatly. Things continued in slow decline, and, toward the end of the month I had become so sensitive to sensory stimuli that I was unable to work without turning off the lights in my office and donning a pair of earplugs. This, of course, worked wonders for my reputation around the office.
Fortunately, around the time things started getting really bad, my work eased up and I was able to catch up on my sleep. That said, this period of sleep deprivation isn’t one I will soon forget…
“I never thought I’d end up working as a contract attorney doing doc review in a windowless basement,” my client bemoaned. “But then I read that piece about the lawyer who’s working as a clerk at Walmart. At least I’ve still got it over him in terms of job prestige.”
Well, you know how obsessed lawyers are with job prestige.
There’s a phrase, “the Downward Drift,” that crops up in discussions of serious mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia, and/or chronic substance abuse. The idea is that you are afflicted with serious mental illness, or become addicted to a harmful substance, which in turn leads to a slow, inevitable slide downward in terms of social class. Before long, the wealthy, Upper East Side business executive suffering from schizophrenia and/or severe alcoholism finds himself jobless, friendless, and eventually even homeless, sleeping in shelters and begging for change.
Weirdly, the same phenomenon — the Downward Drift — affects people who acquire Juris Doctor degrees…
The National Football League has sort of, kind of, not really addressed its concussion problem by paying former players a pittance and then doing absolutely nothing about the culture of the sport. I guess that’s not totally true. The Denver Broncos went out of their way not to hit anybody during the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Hockey — Canada’s pastime and America’s after thought — has largely escaped scrutiny. It’s not that people overlook the violence in the sport, it’s just people mistake the occasional fisticuffs for the most extreme “violence” in the sport. As opposed to plays like, say, this. As you watch that guy leveled and smashing head first into the ice, remember that unlike football, these people by and large didn’t wear helmets until the 80s.
One concussion lawsuit was filed back in November. That one was boringly straight-forward.
Now comes a second lawsuit sprinkled with errors and crazy talk. Perhaps it’s a performance art piece on the horrors of concussions.
Let’s check out the 5 craziest takeaways from the new NHL suit….
The effect that sitting has on your ability to breathe is a serious and underappreciated problem. In fact, it’s so underappreciated that you probably don’t even realize it’s a problem for you at all. Don’t believe me? Just think back to any day this week between 3 and 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Imagine how you felt at this time. Extremely tired? Perhaps a little bit dizzy? About ready to pass out on your keyboard?
Although your symptoms could be attributed to the burrito you ate for lunch, or the fact that you pulled an all-nighter drafting an overdue motion for summary judgment, another possibility is that you simply aren’t breathing enough. As a result, your body may be starved for oxygen. But why does this occur?
While 7.1 million Americans enrolled in Obamacare and Fox tries to explain why this is a bad thing, the majority of Americans just sauntered along with their employee health plans like nothing ever happened.
But in the legal sector, a lot was actually happening. By and large, law firms were engaged in what can be called “stealth cost shifting” where the high-profile benefits remained unchanged while the firms subtly reduced the cost of plans through other avenues.
Basically, this means employees pay more for stuff they don’t need. Now you know how the client feels…
Perhaps the single most underappreciated problem with the practice of law is the physical discomfort that comes from sitting for 10 to 12 hours each day.
If you’re like me, your problems begin within just a few hours of getting settled at your desk. As early as mid-morning, you start to experience a dull ache between your shoulder blades. By lunchtime, this ache has turned into a throbbing pain that is creeping up your mid-back and into your shoulders and neck. Next thing you know, it has engulfed your entire upper body, and by the time you’re ready to leave for the day, it has even spread to your lower extremities. After limping your way home, things have gotten so bad that you have no choice but to curl up in fetal position and have a good cry. Sound familiar?
If so, I have good and bad news for you. First, for the bad news: from an anatomical perspective, your pain is inevitable. Indeed, as it probably has become obvious to you, the human body is not meant to sit in a chair all day…
* A surefire way to make your mom proud of you is to file a funny amicus brief with the Supreme Court, get called out for it in the New York Times, and be lauded by us at Above the Law as having filed the “best amicus brief ever.” [Daily Beast]
* Cynthia Brim, a state judge who’s been declared legally insane, wants to return to the judicial bench she’s been suspended from. Hey, you could look at it this way: at least she’d be working for her $182K salary. [Chicago Tribune]
* Our readers will be thrilled to know that beginning this year, lawyers will become obsolete. Artificial intelligence will start taking over your jobs within the next six months or so. [Wired]
* Join the Fordham OUTLaws for a Transgender Law symposium, co-sponsored by Skadden and the LGBT Bar. One of the panelists, Erin Buzuvis, is an amazing professor from my school. [Fordham Law School]
* If you care at all about how well women and minority law students are represented on law reviews, then you’ll want to come to this important event. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there, too! [Ms. JD]
* In case you were wondering, Penn Law successfully beat the crap out of Wharton (in terms of head to head win-loss record) during the 10th annual Wharton vs. Law Fight Night. [Wharton vs. Law: Fight Night]
* Meet Anthony Halmon, the second-year student at FIU Law who’s relying on his coolness to rock the vote for the SBA presidency. Check out his rap video, after the jump. [Daily Business Review (reg. req.)]
If you’re like me, you might find that practicing law sometimes feels like a questionable way to spend the best years of your life. As I have previously noted, legal work is both extremely stressful and incredibly boring. Moreover, it requires lots of hard work, often to the exclusion of other, perhaps more meaningful, life pursuits. Given all of these difficulties, I sometimes can’t help but wonder: is life is too short to be a lawyer?
Depending on your feelings about your job, this inquiry may or may not send you careening into an existential crisis. But before you get too carried away, let’s get real. You have student loans to pay and, more importantly, probably a family to feed. And although quitting your job to open a bed and breakfast in South America may seem like a great idea on House Hunters, unless you are comfortable living off $20,000 a year, this probably isn’t a realistic option for you.
Assuming you are stuck in your law job for the long haul, what can you do to make the most out of your life? While I have previously discussed ways to achieve a more satisfactory work-life balance, the unpleasant reality about these suggestions is that we are all limited by the number of hours in each day. While I think these suggestions work, they obviously cannot eliminate the underlying problem, which is that you probably spend most of your waking life in your office. Assuming we can’t add hours to each day, how about adding years to our lives? How about living forever??
* After forcing Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act could force for-profit corporations to pay for employees’ abortions, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed rather pleased with himself. [New York Times]
* Sidley Austin just hired a major M&A heavy hitter away from General Electric’s legal department. Congratulations to Chris Barbuto. We suppose he can make it rain as outside counsel now. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Because there’s no time too soon for an ambulance airplane chaser, the beginnings of the first lawsuit lodged against Malaysian Air after Flight 370′s probable crash was filed in court yesterday. [Bloomberg]
* UC Hastings and Iowa are the latest law schools to offer 3+3 accelerated degree programs. What a great recruiting tool for Iowa, which recently saw enrollment levels plunge by 40 percent. [National Law Journal]
* One month after the internet exploded with rumors of Gwyneth Paltrow having an affair with entertainment lawyer Kevin Yorn, the star announced her split from her husband. Coincidence? [New York Daily News]
Professor Joel P. Trachtman has developed a unique, practical guide to help lawyers analyze, argue, and write effectively.
The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win is a highly readable 200-page book, available for about $10 in paperback or e-book. Chapters focus on foundational principles in legal argument: procedure, interpretation of contracts and statutes, use of evidence, and more. The material covered is taught only implicitly in law school. Yet, when up-and-coming attorneys master these straightforward tools, they will think and argue like the best lawyers.
For most attorneys, time spent managing the books is a necessary evil at best. Yet it is undeniably a crucial aspect of running a successful practice. With that in mind, we invite you to view or download a free webinar by Above the Law and our friends at Clio to learn how to better manage your finances.
Take this opportunity to learn what it takes to streamline your accounting and get the most out of your time. The webinar agenda:
● The basics of accounting for lawyers.
● How legal accounting differs from regular accounting.
● Report and reconciliation issues surrounding trust accounts.
● How to pick and integrate the best accounting tools for your practice.
● Steps to prepare your tax return for your firm’s income.
Do not miss this crucial chance to optimize your accounting practices. Save time and get back to billing!
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!