Oct 21

Many times throughout the day, I make an automatic comparison of my present situation to a desired future outcome. Perhaps at the start of my day I have not written a new blog post and I want to have written a post by the end of the day. This makes me aware of what I want to accomplish, keeps me striving toward goals, and helps me to know if I am progressing toward those goals or getting further away from them. This, in and of itself, does not seem like a negative exercise. However, the words that I choose to use have quite an impact on whether I feel encouraged about my goals for the day or weighed down by the lack of progress. Continue reading »

Sep 30

Many lawyers went to law school hoping to make a contribution to justice by working on behalf of the unfortunate, oppressed, and vulnerable, inspired by figures like the fictional Atticus Finch or the real life Jan Schlichtmann. Some actually end up doing this kind of work, where the demands may be less about billable hours than about dealing continuously with human pain – cases, for example, of domestic violence, tragic events, tales of torture in those seeking asylum, child neglect, and more.

Like others who work with traumatized individuals (e.g., physicians, nurses, mental health professionals), these lawyers are subject to a particular kind of stress – hearing the details of traumatic experiences in the presence of the individual who has experienced them and is still reacting to them. Often compounding the situation is a degree of relative helplessness to fix the problem in the face of various entrenched systems, very limited resources, and having to repeatedly confront some very bad realities. Continue reading »

Sep 23

I spent over five years working as a corporate associate for a premier Boston law firm. I was ambitious and determined to climb to the top. I naively thought that I was making choices and taking charge of my life, all in the name of success, whatever image of success was driving me at the time.

Unfortunately, the definition of “success” for a big firm associate is very narrow: you say “yes” to every assignment (even if it means working all-nighters), you become a coveted associate (which means more all-nighters, working weekends and ruined vacations), and you politely listen to the raving annual reviews, waiting for the inevitable other shoe to drop, and cringe at the obligatory constructive criticism, no matter how forced it sounds. Continue reading »

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