March 30, 2010

Musing About Lawyer Burnout

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Lawyer burnout. I wonder if there have been any studies going to stages of a lawyer's attitude toward what he/she does. For example, in law school, the idealism that an aspiring lawyer has, which includes money, success, prestige ...after the first five years of practice...intellectual compromise on how much money one needs to earn, what success and prestige really are...the next five years, narrowing one's practice to areas that let you sleep at night and rejecting worthwhile cases that keep you awake at night and the wind-down years, looking at retirement...and what it all might mean, and the value of years of trying to solve the problems of others.

It helps me to remember that we are not working for justice but some justice. The scales of justice are rarely balanced but one side is always out of balance unless a skilled judge is able to recognize the inequities, and neutralize the advantages one side has over the other. If we are able to get our clients through the system receiving a bigger portion of justice than they would have received without our help, then there is success. If we make the amount of money that meets our comfort level, and get some prestige (recognition, or even a thank you) in the process, it is nice.

But there are times, most often related to the success of greedy, self-centered people, or Judges and other attorneys not doing their jobs (the legal system not working), that it's hard not to consider looking for a deserted island to which to retire. But then, undoubtedly, some government would start doing nuclear testing there.

So we just keep on keeping on and if we can get some distance from the inequities and the problems we are not able to solve, and channel the frustration and rage peculiar to lawyers into energy for the next client and working toward improving the legal system, we can have incredible satisfaction in what we do and the positive contributions that we are able to make to our clients, and society at large.

And the deserted island, with a few good books, for a limited period, may be necessary, and is not bad.

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I love it! ---Good lookin' blog!

Thanks, Wonderwoman, for the excellent thoughts.

No retirement or deserted island could hold you. Besides, once you were on the deserted island, it would no longer be deserted!

Love, Butch
Posted by 4WallyRees on 4/25/2010 at 3:58pm

Reading your comments, and thinking of Birdhaven, and the calming, restorative times we’ve shared with you and Norma – I most certainly misspoke regarding a “deserted” island. Sharing space with some people makes things fall together just right.

Welcome back!
Margaret/Peggy ...
Posted by Peggy Hedrick on 4/26/2010 at 10:02am