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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

March 29, 2006

do lawyers choose to be unhappy?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:45 pm

Yesterday, Robert Ambrogi pointed to yet another study — this time,
The City & Guilds Happiness Index from UK — showing how unhappy
lawyers are with their jobs.  In general, vocational workers seem happier
than professionals.  The factors that seem to create satisfaction are being
able to meet lots of different people and “feeling appreciated.”  According
to the Study:
checkedBoxS “Top of the list of reasons for feeling unhappy in their jobs is
feeling stressed (55 per cent) and feeling underpaid (35 per cent).”
From f/k/a‘s perspective, lawyers in the USA and UK, seem to stress prestige
and income far too much — causing them to choose the most stressful jobs,
with the highest demands on their time — and far too often feel under-respected,
underappreciated and underpaid.
surprising the worker
in the field…
out-of-season blooms
growing old–
by the hearth’s light
Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue
As Evan Schaeffer suggests today, we do this to ourselves, by buying into
the Big Lie that Big Law is the only true source of success in our profession.
Partners make it worse by insisting on higher and higher PPP (profits per
partner) — see Adam Smith Esq for analysis, and MorePartnerIncome
for the pathology, in action.   However, as Prof. Patrick Schiltz, Steven Keeva,
and the f/k/a Gang (repeatedly) have pointed out, the greed of young lawyers
feeds into the process, making it virtually impossible to cure on a systemic
All is not lost. As we said in 2003:
checkedBoxSN In many ways, our profession is in such a sorry state because law
schools and firms have adopted and perpetuated [perpetrated?] lowest-
common-denominator values (mostly driven by greed and made worse
by pretension), and because individual attorneys have gladly or blindly
embraced those values.   Too many lawyers have then decided to live
with, and made excuses for, the intolerable consequences.   That’s the
bad news.  The good news is that individuals can choose better values
in order to give better career advice, change institutions, or make cor-
rections in their lives.
We each can, with courage and “sacrifice”, take charge of our own life and
happiness.  Wanting less money and needing less prestige will go a long way
toward nurturing healthy and happy attitudes.
p.s. The UK Happiness Index had a finding that might surprise a lot
of lawyers (and their significant others): They came in 6th, out of 28
careers for their Work/Life Balance rating.  Bankers came in last place.
That should remind us that finding a satisfactory balance is not a unique
curse for our profession. We made a related point last October, in con-
nection with Take Back Your Time Day:
Of course, lawyers love to see themselves as especially
overworked, over-stressed, and beset by life balance issues
and far too many are.  I just want to point out that a very large
percentage of adults (and children) in our nation feels the same
Not to (unduly) belabor the obvious, that balance could be shifted in the
right direction if our income goals (and quotas) were reduced.
visiting the dog’s grave
then away!

the baby mosquito

tries out

his nose

living dangerously

the kite skims

the river

dead by drowning

in the deep cup


“visiting” & “baby mosquito” – the novel Dewdrop World (free download)

“living” & “dead” – from his novel The Laughing Buddha


tiny check In another update to our wordless Italian post, we wonder why a conser-

vative “American jurist” is citing a foreign source in a Letter to the Editor.  On the

merits, we ask:

Did Nino move those fingers slowly, or with the rapid,

single motion that is far more insulting (and one might

deem obscene)?


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