Happy, Healthy, and Ethical

Money, Sex and Madness

Lawyers Gone Bad

Maclean’s interviewed Philip Slayton, author of a new book entitled Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession, for the August edition of the magazine.

An excerpt from Slayton’s site:

Are stealing and sexual misconduct a distraction from the grinding boredom that is a characteristic of even the best legal practice? Is there something about practising law that makes lawyers unusually prone to depression, anxiety, social isolation and obsessive-compulsiveness? Does legal training strip lawyers of a value system, and encourage them to be aggressive, judgemental, pessimistic and emotionally detached? Do lawyers believe that their mastery of the legal rules, and their ability to manipulate those rules, carries with it a personal exemption from their application?

Direct link to the interview on the Maclean’s site is here.

Why the misery?
Sathnam Sanghera of The Times provides suggestions on why there might be a deteriorating quality of life for some lawyers:

  1. Long hours
  2. Repetitive work
  3. Becoming disillusioned
  4. Nature of the work
  5. Poor public opinion
  6. Self-inflicted punishment

Aspiring lawyers can use these points to help improve their quality of professional life.

  • Flex-time and telecommuting is becoming increasingly common in legal practice. This allows lawyers to work from home and juggle multiple demands such as family and children. An increase number of mothers in law has even led way to specialized flex-time firms. ABC News recently covered a New Zealand firm that won an award for flex-time and even allowing naps on the job.
  • One of the beauties of the legal field is that there are so many different areas of practice. Boredom with one area can easily motivate someone to take courses and gain specialization in another.
  • All professionals eventually have to deal with the realities of their field, and it’s good to start out with realistic expectations. Law goes where the work is, and most of it is with big businesses. With the emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility, this is increasingly not a necessary evil.
  • Do more pro bono work, and encourage your firm to do the same.
  • Employ more developed communications strategies to clarify the type of work that lawyers do, and how they better society.
  • Find greater work/life balance, for yourself, and set personal boundaries.

Here’s Some Tips

Despite a contentious title and premise, Hon. Patrick J. Schiltz does provide some tips on how to be happy, healthy and ethical.

For further discussion…

About the Author

Law is Cool
This site is intended to provide a resource for those interested in law. Current law students, graduates preparing for their bar exam, and members of the general public, can all benefit from a deeper understanding of the legal framework that helps shape our society.

2 Comments on "Happy, Healthy, and Ethical"

  1. There’s more articles and tips about work-life balance at the Canadian Bar Association’s PracticeLink website (http://www.cba.org/cba/PracticeLink/BWL/). I may be biased, on account of I work for the CBA, but I think it’s very good. :-) The CBA has also issued a condemnation of the Maclean’s article: http://www.cba.org/CBA/News/2007_releases/2007-07-26_macleans.aspx.

    I haven’t read Slayton’s book, but I didn’t care much for the interview — it consists of just one person’s opinion, and there’s about 95,000 lawyers out there.The Maclean’s cover, though — calling lawyers rats and accusing us of taking bribes and cheating our clients — is just outrageous.

  2. lawiscool | July 27, 2007 at 4:22 pm |

    Thanks for the CBA link. I haven’t read the article yet, waiting to either get the online or print version, but I’m happy to see that at least the profession has provided a response.

    I’m also happy that MacCarthy emphasized the importance of pro bono to Canadian lawyers.

Comments are closed.