The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law

The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law

Nancy Levit

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0195392329

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

You get good grades in college, pay a small fortune to put yourself through law school, study hard to pass the bar exam, and finally land a high-paying job in a prestigious firm. You're happy, right? Not really. Oh, it beats laying asphalt, but after all your hard work, you expected more from your job. What gives?

The Happy Lawyer examines the causes of dissatisfaction among lawyers, and then charts possible paths to happier and more fulfilling careers in law. Eschewing a one-size-fits-all approach, it shows how maximizing our chances for achieving happiness depends on understanding our own personality types, values, strengths, and interests.

Covering everything from brain chemistry and the science of happiness to the workings of the modern law firm, Nancy Levit and Doug Linder provide invaluable insights for both aspiring and working lawyers. For law students, they offer surprising suggestions for selecting a law school that maximizes your long-term happiness prospects. For those about to embark on a legal career, they tell you what happiness research says about which potential jobs hold the most promise. For working lawyers, they offer a handy toolbox--a set of easily understandable steps--that can boost career happiness. Finally, for firm managers, they offer a range of approaches for remaking a firm into a more satisfying workplace.

Read this book and you will know whether you are more likely to be a happy lawyer at age 30 or age 60, why you can tell a lot about a firm from looking at its walls and windows, whether a 10 percent raise or a new office with a view does more for your happiness, and whether the happiness prospects are better in large or small firms.

No book can guarantee a happier career, but for lawyers of all ages and stripes, The Happy Lawyer may give you your best shot.

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that his suggestion is made in the hopes of making life easier for lawbreakers everywhere. A world without lawyers would be a world in chaos. Economists have found remarkably strong positive correlations between the availability of lawyers in a society and the existence of civil rights and civil liberties.41 Lawyers can engage in work that is socially significant and produces a relatively good income. But law is more about analytical challenges, intellectual stimulation, and the human dimensions

be vastly overrepresented, as they are the lawyers most likely to take the trouble to respond to such a poll. For instance, the California Lawyer survey—which showed so many lawyers to be miserable with their careers—was sent to potential respondents by fax; and it suffers from possible data collection flaws: Because this survey does not use a random sample of lawyers, but instead relies on the voluntary participation of the magazine’s readership, it is highly unlikely to provide a

rank high in general happiness. To be more precise, occupations that allow workers to think they are helping others do well in happiness rankings. The fact that the help provided might seem rather modest in the eyes of those outside the profession is of little matter. Gilbert notes that often when a job doesn’t provide an obvious sense of meaning, people will figure out how to add it. As an example, he points to hairdressers who derive satisfaction from seeing themselves as key confidants of

sprinkled in gently, over time, in between other questions, or you might want to figure the answers to them out for yourself without asking the questions directly. 1. What are the firm’s billable hour expectations? Do attorneys receive bonuses (or compensatory time off) if they exceed their targets or expectations? 2. What kinds of responsibilities and decision latitudes are given to associates on cases? How about on personal matters? (e.g., Will I be able to arrange my own office, hang my own

should always be ‘yes.’ Always. The answer is never ‘no.’ ” If the client calls one evening and asks if we can write a complex brief and file it the following morning, the answer should be “yes.” If the client asks if we can restructure the deal at the last minute, the answer should be “yes.” “Now, of course,” the partner went on, “that ‘yes’ often will need to be followed by a lot more explanation. You may need to follow the ‘yes’ with a lot of serious warnings about the disadvantages and costs,

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