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The Happy Lawyer: Work, Life and Ethics, Striving for Balance Professor Judith L. Maute William J. Alley Professor of Law President’s Associates Presidential.

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Presentation on theme: "The Happy Lawyer: Work, Life and Ethics, Striving for Balance Professor Judith L. Maute William J. Alley Professor of Law President’s Associates Presidential."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Happy Lawyer: Work, Life and Ethics, Striving for Balance Professor Judith L. Maute William J. Alley Professor of Law President’s Associates Presidential Professor November 15, 2011


3 THE HAPPY LAWYER: Random Facts Making a Good Life in the Law By Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder (Oxford University Press, 2010) Graduates of “fourth-tier” law schools are happier with practice, on average, than are graduates of “first-tier” law schools. Roughly half of happiness is determined by genetics. Exercise modifies pathways in the brain to make them better equipped to handle stress. Over half of lawyers are “very satisfied” with their careers, making lawyers happier than most workers in 198 surveyed jobs, in between slightly happier physicians and slightly less happy accountants.

4 Older lawyers are generally happier than younger lawyers with their career. Work spaces with high ceilings promote expansive thinking while work places with lower ceilings are better for detail work. Female lawyers and male lawyers are about equally happy with their careers, but women complain more about lack of “work-life balance”. Lawyers are more likely to be “big picture” thinkers, pessimistic, and introverted than are most non-lawyers. The intellectual challenge of law best matches lawyers expectations as they entered practice; “ability to contribute to the public good” falls most short of expectations.

5 Our happiness is strongly influenced by the happiness of those around us. Meditation increases well-being and boosts immune systems. Lawyers in public sector jobs are generally happier with their career than lawyers in private practice.

6 What makes you makes you happy: components that go into most people’s experience of happiness. Social relationships (close friends & family) the loss of a close friend or family member can cause dissatisfaction with life; and it may take quite a time to bounce back from the loss. Work or school, or performance in a role valued by the person, such as homemaker or grandparent. Enjoyment of work (paid or unpaid work) and feeling that it is meaningful and important Corollary: When work is going poorly because of bad circumstances or a poor fit with the person’s strengths, this can lower life satisfaction.

7 When a person has important goals, and is failing to make adequate progress toward them, this too can lead to life dissatisfaction. Personal satisfaction with the self, religious or spiritual life, learning and growth, and leisure Other sources of happiness When these sources of personal worth are frustrated, they can be powerful sources of dissatisfaction. There are additional sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction – some that are common to most people such as health -- and others that are unique to the individual.

8 One’s temperament – a general tendency to be happy or unhappy – can color their responses. Key ingredients to happiness: social relationships; important goals that derive from one’s values & progress toward reaching; connection to something larger than oneself. When one tends to be chronically dissatisfied, reflect upon whether it’s feasible to develop more positive attitudes to life and the world. Test Your Happiness, Professor Ed Diener, University of Illinois Published 2006/03/08


10 CIRCUMSTANCES NOT SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTING HAPPINESS Gender Age Income level Level of fame State of residence Decade (since 1950)

11 Circumstances and their Effects on Happiness Married (vs single and especially divorced) Number of close friends Employed (vs unemployed) Religious (vs non-religious) Lacking chronic pain (vs having chronic pain) Living in a safe environment (vs living in a dangerous environment) Living in a non-noisy neighborhood (vs living in a very noisy neighborhood)


13 Architectural and Design Goals for a Law Office that Promotes Happiness 1.Natural light should be a major source of illumination. 2.Include a large comfortable space for lawyers to gather together and socialize. Major pathways in the office should be tangent to the common area. 3.Avoid long sterile corridors. 4.Create alternating areas of relative light and darkness throughout the office. 5.Create a variety of flexible spaces. 6.Provide a space for communal eating. 7.Arrange welcoming things (chairs, fireplace, newspapers, coffee) inside the entrance, with the reception desk at an angle to the side. 8.Avoid closed off, separate offices. Workplaces should strike a balance between being enclosed and exposed.

14 9. If possible, have a light on two sides of every room. 10. Offices should have views overlooking life—gardens, street scenes, etc. 11. Let lawyers and staff ornament their offices with things from their own lives. 12. Most spaces should be warmly colored (natural wood, wall paint or light sources can each accomplish this). 13. Use pools of light rather than uniform illumination. 14. If possible, include a fountain or some other feature with moving water. 15. Place plants of varying shapes and sizes throughout the office. 16. Vary ceiling heights (0laces to encourage fine attention with low ceilings and places with high ceilings to encourage expansive thinking).

15 Ways to Become a Happier Lawyer 1.Make sure your job is one that matters to you. choose meaningful projects over busy work try to become a key player in your firm and legal community 2.Think about the way your job positively affects other people. identify how your work has bettered lives 3.Strive for a comfortable work-life balance. be willing to sacrifice income if necessary (it won’t matter) consider telecommuting or “5 days work in 4” options discuss work flexibility with sympathetic partners

16 4.Work to make your job more secure. know and become friends with those who control your fate meet or exceed firm expectations develop expertise in noncyclical or countercyclical areas 5.Take control of your work product and work space. set, when possible, a timetable for finishing work develop your own strategy for meeting goals 6.Connect with people. work on collaborative projects when possible eat lunch with colleagues or clients participate in firm social events seek help and offer feedback praise colleagues who do good work remember birthdays and write personal notes choose face-to-face work when possible

17 7.If happiness seems possible in your job, commit to that job. don’t always look for greener grass (water your own) remind yourself what you really like about your job trust those who earn it and remember that building trust takes lots of interaction personalize your work space with photos, art, etc. 8.Increase the frequency of your “flow experiences”. think about projects that have “made time fly” identify common characteristics of those projects look for tasks that challenge you but are within your abilities avoid, when possible, tasks that are so easy as to bore you find a work setting where distractions are minimized try to include a variety of tasks within your work day work in places with natural light and views of nature

18 9.Avoid making upward comparisons. focus on internal goals, not keeping up with colleagues remind yourself that money has little to do with happiness choose, when possible, projects that benefit the less fortunate 10. Find out what experiences have made other lawyers happy. remember that people are more alike than different talk with other lawyers and ask about their experiences observe what seems to make other lawyers happy choose jobs and projects that have made other lawyers happy

19 11. Know your strengths and what gives you pleasure. identify tasks and events that give you pleasure, and do them more often recognize your strengths and find ways to use them 12. Align your work with your values. identify your values and look for work consistent with those values consider volunteering for pro bono work or work that you care about

20 Five Easy Steps for Public Service Loan Forgiveness 1.Make the right kind of payment 2.On the right kind of loan 3.While you are in the right kind of job 4.Repeat 120 times 5.Prove it Income-Based Repayment Federal Direct loans ONLY Full-time paid work for the government or a 501(c)(3), plus certain other positions Once a month for ten-years Submit a lot of documents to the Department of Education or

21 CLIENT-LAWYER RELATIONSHIP RULE 1.1 COMPETENCE A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

22 RULE 1.3 DILIGENCE A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. RULE 1.16 DECLINING OR TERMINATING REPRESENTATION (a)Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if: (2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client; or

23 * * * MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE PROFESSION RULE 8.3 REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT (a)A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority. (c) This rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

24 (d) The provisions of Rule 8.3(a) shall not apply to lawyers who obtain such knowledge or evidence while acting as Ethics Counsel or as a member, investigator, agent, employee, or as a designee of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee, Judges Helping Judges, or Management Assistance Program in the course of assisting another lawyer or judge. Any such knowledge or evidence received by lawyers acting in such capacity shall enjoy the same confidence as information protected by the attorney-client privilege under applicable law and Rule 1.6.

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