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Are You a Stressed-Out Lawyer? Well, Well, Well

You may not know it, but you are an Unhappy, Unhealthy and Unfulfilled wretch. If not you, then your colleague in the next office. And if neither of you, then certainly that miserable sun-tanned SOB with the trophy wife sitting across from you at the negotiating table.

Or else Andy Clark doesn’t have a book.

Clark is the author of the new “legal self-help” book “Lawyer Wellness is NOT An Oxymoron” – Why Tomorrow’s Top Lawyers Must Embrace Wellness Today – And What You Need to Do To Be One Of Them.

The title would’ve been longer, but there was no more room on the cover.

As the title suggests, if you are a “today” lawyer, it may well be too late for you to do anything about your plight, you poor sod. But you can give the book to that bright young fledgling down the hall.

Ahhh, just kidding. Clark says you, too, can become “well.”

Why are lawyers so stressed? Clark cites demanding clients, tight deadlines and billing pressures, to name three causes. Being responsible for whether someone goes free or spends the rest of their life in prison doesn’t help. Plus, almost by definition, your job entails being in an antagonistic relation with someone. And when you tell someone you’re an attorney at a cocktail party, you have to listen that %$#^& “What do you call two dozen capsized lawyers” joke YET AGAIN.

Billing rates of up to $1,800 an hour* only goes so far alleviating the grief, y’know?

(*OK, that’s Ted Olson, but according to the National Law Journal, at least 20% of large law firms in 2013 had one partner or more billing $1,000+ per hour. Still nothing to sneeze at.)

Before Clark gets to the “wellness” part, he piles on a bunch of stats about the high percentage of lawyers who wouldn’t recommend it as a career, hope to change professions, think “agitation” is one of the four basic food groups, etc., as well as quoting a positive psychology expert who observes that one of the qualities that makes a good lawyer is pessimism, because “seeing troubles as pervasive and permanent is a component of what the law profession deems prudence.” Not a particularly helpful trait when it comes to stopping to smell the roses, though.

Pessimism: good for lawyering, bad for pretty much everything else.

If you’re not unhappy when you start the book, you will be mid-way through.

But then Clark turns to solutions. So how do you become less stressed and start living “well?” Well, you could stop practicing law full time and instead become a “wellness” consultant specializing in helping attorneys, but Clark beat you to it.

Or you could take charge of your life, adopt a change of attitude, begin healthy habits, carve out time for activities you enjoy. Suggested activities include the usual suspects: meditation, time management, positive affirmations, prioritizing, eating healthy, exercise, family time, balancing work and leisure. The life-enhancing advice is not particularly lawyer-specific. You won’t find stress-reducing tips like “Object less,” “Defend nicer people,” “Enhance your self-esteem by doing more pro bono work,” and “Rest more than just your case.”

Still, you can get a pretty good round-up of Clark’s tips by reading the blog at www.wellnesslawyer.com

Or, you could start billing $1,800 an hour, and see how that goes.

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