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Can Lawyers Achieve Career Fulfillment & Happiness?

lawyermentalhealthI was actually inspired to write this post by one of my paralegal students at Nova Scotia Community College.  For the past 20+ years, I have been a disciple of the teachings of Professor Lawrence Krieger.  By coincidence, Krieger was my professor at The Florida State University College of Law.  Over the past 20+ years, Professor Krieger has continued to distinguish himself — particularly as one of the leaders in a movement to analyze the underpinnings of law student and lawyer happiness — or lack thereof.  Larry Krieger has written prolifically on the subject, attempting to not only analyze, but also to develop solutions for overcoming this daunting problem — one which has resulted in the legal profession always standing at or near the top of the chart in categories such as substance abuse, alcoholism and suicide.

I am urging my blog readers to review one of Larry Krieger’s papers on the subject: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2398989  Mental health is a key aspect for long-term success — whether as a lawyer or a paralegal.  Indeed, long-term mental health was one of the key aspects that drove me to relocate to Nova Scotia.  No, I have never been suicidal nor an abuser of alcohol/drugs.  However, I have always been a chronic workaholic.  I can only be thankful that I have an indulgent spouse who was willing to tolerate this aspect of my personality — one likely developed over the course of 18-21 years of intensive study and legal practice — often in a cutthroat environment.

Lawyers and paralegals need to understand that there is more to life than work.  Yes, I am still — myself — working on overcoming such a notion.  The days of 80-100 hour workweeks are still fresh to me.  Notwithstanding, like everything, there is so much more to life than money or career success/ambition.  Indeed, recognizing this — and adapting to this mentality — will not only delivery greater career fulfillment and better overall happiness; it will also likely translate into the lawyer or paralegal becoming a bigger, better, more effective asset for the client.

Leaving you with another quote:


1 Comments on This Post
  1. Terilyn

    Looking at the link in the blog, this line from the abstract stood out,

    “Despite markedly lower law school grades and current income, public service lawyers had healthier autonomy, purpose, and values and were happier than lawyers in the most prestigious positions (and who had the highest law school grades and incomes)”

    I found this statement to be very true, lawyers (or anybody for that matter) are going to be happier when they have a love for what they do. Of course, that’s not to say lawyers working in the more prestigious positions don’t love what they do, but rather those working as public service lawyers may see themselves as making a difference in the lives of their clients and in their community.


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