That's what I asked a lawyer in a 12-step program. For 18 months she had been searching for another job in BigLaw. No luck. Meanwhile, she was being worn down by the 80-hour weeks and general lack of civility in her workplace. Her fear was that, as she aged, her options in law were diminishing. Not entrepreneurial, starting a solo practice was not in the cards.
"No, I have hope."
That might differentiate her from so many of the on-the-edge lawyers described in the recent study by the ABA. It, explains Abovethelaw.com, found that the addiction rate for lawyers is twice the national average. And suicidal ideation is common.
Unlike this woman, an in-house compliance lawyer in the insurance industry did check out. He had had his third DUI, his wife was squeezing him financially in divorce negotiations, and he anticipated not only losing his job but also landing in prison. One Saturday, he mowed his aging 12-step sponsor's lawn and stopped on the drive back to his house. He blew his brains out. Had he hope, he might have given sustained sobriety a good try.
How the business of law operates doesn't provide much of a platform for hope. Once in, it's difficult to exit what many perceive as unbearable work conditions. The money ceases to hold them together.
Can the model of the legal workplace change to provide human beings wiggle room to manage the whatever? What's in it for legal employers are increased creativity, productivity, and Emotional Intelligence (EI). Clients and prospects will notice that from the get-go.
Mark Herrmann lives a life based on the Law of Attraction. He is not only a lawyer who loves his work. He is a happy lawyer. As a former partner at Jones Day, in-house counsel at Aon, book author, and columnist at Abovethelaw.com, Herrmann accomplishes the extraordinary. The ABA should have him as keynote speaker for an annual meeting.