Who needs to sleep?

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…

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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?

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Sleeping Beauty: Not on the fast track to partnership.

I’m a big believer in forcing society to make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. It’s not too much to ask that disabled people be provided with handicapped accessible taxi cabs and buildings. And a special parking spot. Or whatever. If there’s a reasonable thing that society can do to make it a little bit easier to function with a disability, we should do it.

As long as we’re dealing with a real disability.

We used to live in a world where it was pretty easy to identify a disabled person. “Hello. Hello? Oh, you must be deaf.” “Hey, why are a you miserable cuss who keeps screaming ‘hoo ha’ at me? Oh, you must be blind.” “Why did you take out a hundred thousand dollar loan to go to a school that doesn’t help people get high-paying jobs? Oh, you must be retarded.” Man, those were the days.

Sadly, we now live in a world where it’s harder and harder to separate out the really disabled people from those who just can’t get their stuff together. To cope, I’ve developed my own little test: if I wouldn’t want the disability, it’s a real disability. If I’d gladly take the “disability” in exchange for a cash payout, it’s probably fake.

So let me ask you this: would you take a cash payout from your Biglaw firm if I afflict you with the dreaded “I’m really sleepy” disability? Yeah, this woman would too….

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Congrats to Mike Sacks on his new gig!

* I’m not alone in arguing for apprenticeships in the world of legal education. On the other side of the pond, Chris Ashford likes the idea too. [The Lawyer]

* Speaking of legal education, “Some Things Are Funny in Law School.” [Only in Law School]

* Congratulations to Mike Sacks — founder of First One @ One First, and a past contributor to these pages — on his exciting new job! [ABA Journal; First One @ One First]

* What should rejected applicants to the shrinking DOJ Honors Program do? Let them eat… muffins! Cake can’t hold a candle to $16 muffins. [Constitutional Daily]

* Given my own uneasiness about guns, I’m not so enthusiastic about the right to print arms. [Associate's Mind]

* Professor Glenn Reynolds asks: “Can Lack of Sleep Ruin Your Marriage?” Just ask the divorced denizens of Biglaw. [Instapundit]

As any law student can tell you, pulling an all-nighter sucks. Biglaw associates, however, have to pull all-nighters quite frequently — and sometimes they’ll have to get by with very little sleep, for multiple nights in a row. As one of our Above the Law editors mentioned to me, a Biglaw all-nighter “is nothing like any other kind of all-nighter [he's] ever experienced.”

So what happens when you’re on your eighth caffeinated beverage of the night and you’re still yawning? You can literally feel the small amount of blood left in your coffee stream getting ready to stage a strike if you don’t catch a few Z’s. As a young lawyer, would you even consider going to sleep? And would your firm approve?

Hell no. Don’t even think about it. You can sleep when you’re dead. But for now, you get a futuristic-looking pod to take a nap in….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

My client wasn’t getting enough sleep. I assumed it was insomnia, but that didn’t fit the bill. It wasn’t that she couldn’t sleep; it was that she wouldn’t sleep. She was staying up from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., lying in bed — mostly, playing Angry Birds.

Those few hours were the only time she was left alone all day – no one from the firm called to assign her something awful to do or yell at her for something awful she’d done. To relinquish this sliver of “me time,” even for sleep, was out of the question….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I was kidding around with some of the guys at my gym, tossing around the question – would you fight Mike Tyson for $3 million?

One of them joked – I think he heard this on Howard Stern – that he’d fellate Mike Tyson for $3 million. He could spend the first $1 million on mouthwash and retire on the rest.

Then another guy spoke up, a sometime professional heavyweight boxer. (I’m not making this up, he really has boxed, for big money, not too long ago – and has plans to do so again.)

“It’s not worth it. Mike would destroy you. There would be no retirement.”

He went on to explain what he meant. He knew from experience – this guy had been in the ring. You’d have more than bruises – you’d have concussions, brain injuries, damaged bones and joints. You’d never be the same – and it wouldn’t be worth it. You’re better off not having $3 million but appreciating the finer things, like being able to walk and talk and think.

I saw his point.

Biglaw is also not worth it, even for big money. That’s because it, too, destroys you – just like Iron Mike…

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Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are examples of female lawyers who have it all: success in both their personal and professional lives. They both reached the pinnacle of the legal profession — a seat on the Supreme Court — but also raised families, blessing the world with judicial opinions galore, children, and grandchildren. They had time for dicta and… Well, you get the picture.

What about the most recent two females anointed with the holy SCOTUS water: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor? They both have incredible résumés, which helped get them to One First Street, but neither one had a family to move down to D.C. with them.

On the other hand, the most recent male nominees to the Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, are both married with children. They did not have to sacrifice family for profession. (Of course, that’s assuming you see “no children or significant other” as a “sacrifice.”)

Some studies have shown marriage is advantageous for men, but disadvantageous for women. Single women often make more than single men. An old article from Forbes points out:

Without husbands, women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology. Without children, men have more liberty to earn less–that is, they are free to pursue more fulfilling and less lucrative careers, like writing or art or teaching social studies.

Andrews Kurth partner Kathleen Wu recently offered career advice in the Texas Lawyer. As Ashby Jones points out at the WSJ Law Blog, the most valuable piece is to “get real about balance.” Wu wrote:

It is next to impossible to balance a full-time legal career with marriage, children and regular trips to the gym. It’s no coincidence that the two women most recently nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court — now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee/U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan — are unmarried and childless.

Can women not have it all? Elie — married and male — and Kash — single and female — opine and offer a poll, after the jump.

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