Ethics Counsel on

Work/Life Balance


Why Lawyers are Prone to Suicide
If you accept that all human life has value, and that suicide is a cruel and devastating end, you might conclude that a segment of society whose members are three to six times more likely to kill themselves might deserve some extra attention and resources. Makes sense, right? Of course.

Why are Lawyers Killing Themselves?
Finis Price III was a successful Kentucky lawyer, a popular professor, and a sought after technology consultant. He also enjoyed a marriage so close that his wife was also his business partner. The good days ended abruptly when he jumped to his death in 2012.

When the Hard Times Drag You Down, or Don't Let Your Brain Go There
Okay, I need Irvin Karp's presentation on procrastination. Should've had it weeks ago. The Friday before the Solo Small Firm Conference, I'm sitting here at the Starbucks with my chick drink (extra-hot ... so I don't gulp it down and want six more) hoping some sort of inspiration will hit. I've waited ever since I found out the hokey title for this speech for inspiration to hit. I've Googled "Don't let the hard times get you down" thinking Google might have the answer.

Fun Is Not a Four Letter Word: 10 Ways to Have Fun Practicing Law
Have you stopped lately to consider whether you are injecting some fun into your every day work week? Curiosity and creativity are a lawyer's most essential tools. Here are a few suggestions (ranging from the serious to the absurd) to jump-start your work week:

Resolve to Decide
“Resolution” is not a strong word anymore, especially when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. We may as well use the words “mulling over” or “consider”: “I’m mulling over making my law practice more profitable,” or “I’m considering changing jobs.” And usually, after January, the only people who use the word “resolution” are legislators or tax evaders who try to record their own Constitutions with the county clerk. So, if we want to make real changes we need to change the words we use. Use the word “decide.”

Tips for a Stress-Free Workplace
Lose the unnecessary office chats and interruptions. Institute “quiet hours” for a couple of hours a day where you do not take phone calls and close the door to the “rovers” in your office. Your day will go better, and you won’t be confused with Howard Hughes.

Rules of the Road: Ways to Make Travel Fun and Easy
If you haven’t noticed, cruise lines and airlines are filling the airwaves with ads touting discounts and deals. One travel service pitching a Hawaiian vacation has set up webcams at a couple of idyllic locales and you can check the weather and the views from your desk, 24 hours a day, while you while away the hours responding to someone’s pesky discovery requests. The service also has a screensaver clock that automatically counts down ‘til the day and time of your flight.

My Last Lecture: Unsolicited Advice for Future and Current Lawyers 56 S.C.L. Rev.229 (2004)
This is my last lecture, so it is the last chance I will have to exert any influence on you. Unless you teach, you may not understand the full impact of that statement. To a certain extent, we teachers live vicariously through you, our students. We have, in the main, foregone having a direct influence on the world in exchange for an opportunity to influence you, in the hope that you, in turn, will do good work and make us proud.

Cher Still Looks Fabulous at 60
I recently read an article by Gail Sheehy that proclaimed “life begins at 60.” I was relieved because I have seven more years to prepare for my re-birth. In the next few months I need to get into the gym to look like Sly Stallone, learn to play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughn, and sing like Mick Jagger. Or, maybe I could build a cabin and claim I’m the real Bob Vila.

Why Women Still Can't Have it All
Eighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History.

Blowing Up the Barrier Between Work and Family
Almost every attorney has felt the strain of balancing a successful law career and time with family. So many attorneys try to segregate their lives by saying, “If I am at work, I have to be working, and if I am at home, I can’t be dealing with work.”

Burnout: Avoidable, Not Inevitable
Burnout. you’ve probably heard the term many times, and possibly used it yourself to express boredom, fatigue or annoyance, as in “Not another feature article about incredibly successful lawyers. I’m burnt out on this stuff!” But those casual references fall short of describing the genuine distress that lawyers with burnout experience.

The Burnout Pandemic: Accommodating Workaholism in the Practice of Law
For more than 20 years, social scientists have documented the pervasive incidents of depression and burnout in the legal profession. For that same 20 years, the profession has sought a means to address the consequences of these conditions. In general, efforts have included (a) creating lawyer assistance programs; (b) encouraging practicing attorneys to self identify themselves as being subject to these conditions; and (c) urging the creation of “work life balance” initiatives.

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