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??
Sadly, lawyers are a group vulnerable to succumbing to addictions. In fact, according to one study, while 10% of the general population suffers from alcohol addiction, this number increases to 20% among lawyers. That’s right: one in five lawyers are alcoholics. At this point, you may be starting to wonder who in your firm proves this statistic. I would advise against this game, however. Although it may seem mildly entertaining at first, you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually pretty sick. This is because, of course, the statistic is true.
I remember being warned about the problem of substance abuse in the legal profession during the first week of 1L orientation when we watched a video about addicted attorneys. Unfortunately, this movie — which followed high functioning alcoholics and a woman with a shopping problem — failed to have its intended effect. That is, instead of scaring me away from drugs and alcohol, the film left me with the misguided impression that being a lawyer is easy. After all, if those people could practice law when they were completely wasted, doing it sober must be a breeze.
Notwithstanding my experience during 1L orientation, I do realize that drug and alcohol abuse is a serious issue in our profession, and not one to be taken lightly. If you or anyone you know has dealt with an addiction, you know how hard it can be. The question is, why are lawyers at such a high risk?
Key to writing a self-help piece? Pictures of bland smiling people.
Self-help books are amazing. So simple, so pedantic, so lucrative. If I could muster enough “human compassion,” I’d get in on that action. But, as is I’ll have to stick with mocking dumb lawyers online. It’s a living.
A self-help book for lawyers is out and boasts some advantages for lawyers choosing to live a “wellness” lifestyle.
If you’re wondering what “wellness” means, it’s kind of a catch-all pop psych term for “not being a f**kup.” Glad I could help out….
As I mentioned earlier today, I’m probably dying. Having the flu is like being drunk without any of the fun or reliable breathing.
I’m feeling better today than yesterday (thanks for asking), when I blew off work via a text message that read, “Not coming in tomorrow. Sorry.” Actually, I don’t remember if I included the “sorry” part, because I wasn’t, but “sorry” seems like a nice thing that I hope I said. I have a pretty sweet job for calling in sick. Here’s how it works: I get sick, I tell somebody (doesn’t really matter who), and I go back to bed.
That’s not all that different than how I rolled in Biglaw. Of course, I didn’t last very long in Biglaw. In Biglaw, people act like overcoming illness to work on documents makes them Michael Jordan in the flu game. I always thought it was stupid, and borderline malpractice, to attempt to work on sensitive client matters when you’ve got enough Duane Reade in you that it’s illegal for you to drive a car, but I’m also the guy who used to remote into work because it was “too cold” and took a “personal day” whenever Madden dropped.
Let my mistakes be your guide. Here are five times when I called in sick and I didn’t get dirty looks from all the partners when I returned. So I can only assume that these are the five situations where it’s “okay” to be sick.
I’ve put it together in the form of a listicle because I can’t be bothered to put in transitional phrases like an adult. For those who might be interested in using this list as a guide for scoring a day off, I’ve ordered this from the most believable ways to call in sick to the least…
Notice how this is a child? Don't act like a child.
True story: when I was a lawyer, sometimes I’d leave work and fantasize about jumping in front of a slow moving bus or cab and getting injured. Not enough to be in a life-threatening situation, just serious enough to be put in some ward of the hospital where my doctors wouldn’t allow me to do any more work. I knew just having a “note” from the doctor or being “sick” wasn’t enough. If you could see, you could review documents. So I needed an injury where somebody would prevent my employer from making me do any more work.
And an injury that was serious enough to allow me to quit would have kept my parents off my back. That’s the real business. If I had gotten, say, my left arm chopped off (I’m right handed), I figured I could credibly explain to my family that I had “a moment of clarity” and didn’t want to “waste my life in an office” anymore. Then I wouldn’t look like a “quitter” to my friends and family, and I’d look almost heroic for efforts to overcome my new disability. It would have worked!
I never did it, obviously. Eventually, I realized that quitting my job and dealing with the disappointment of my family and the unfounded perception that I “couldn’t cut it” from my friends was way more intelligent than cutting off my arm. And I think history has proven me right. For instance, I have two arms, which is awesome.
But I thought about it — you think about all kinds of crazy things when you feel overwhelmed with work. It seems like a Brazilian university student took her thoughts a step further. To avoid completing her dissertation, she faked getting kidnapped….
Not to be all on Catherine Rampell’s jock today, but the other thing I read in the Economix while I was catching up on the internet seemed far more interesting than imagining Shearman & Sterling partners bitch about how flat profits per partner left them with only $1.56 million, on average, to play around with in 2011.
On the one hand, it’s an obvious point: a study about the most “sleep-deprived” professions found lawyers to average only 7 hours of sleep a night. Only “home health aides” received less sleep.
It doesn’t come as a galloping shock to anybody that lawyers average less sleep than almost anybody else. What did surprise me was the figure. What the hell kind of lazy lawyer is getting seven entire hours of sleep every day?
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.