CBA Record May-June 2021


O nce during an exam, a doctor told me about the burdens he faces daily and how he perseveres, nevertheless. “Every day brings new problems, new headaches,” he said. “It plays with my head and my body. You have no idea.” Yes, I said to myself, I have no idea, but you, doctor, have no idea how tough it is for a lawyer with a demanding practice. A few weeks later I saw a headline in a bar magazine that struck me: “Law is easy. Life is hard.” At that moment, I realized what the doctor was telling me. Medicine is easy. Life is hard. How each of us acts and reacts to the vagaries, vicissitudes, and strains of life in the 21st Century has much to do with lawyer well-being. And technology has only complicated – not simplified – the lives of lawyers, piling on stress and keeping their lives out of balance. This might explain why so many lawyers identify as unhappy or unhealthy or both. Consider, for example, last year’s ABA annual profile of the profession. Almost half the respondents reported that they either “never stop working” or work long hours. A quarter admitted to rarely taking breaks during the workday. A third felt compelled to forgo vaca- tions. Several respondents expressed “an underlying theme of unhappiness, frustration, and fear stemming from loan burdens.” Also mentioned were struggles with mental health and depression, difficulty saving for the future or retirement, and the need to make uncomfortable choices regarding healthcare for themselves or their family. All of this should cause a collective gulp. Yet, the same somber message was delivered 15 years ago by legal scholars Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado in How Lawyers Lose Their Way: A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds , “Lawyers complain that they have no life, no time for exercise or leisure pursuits, and precious little time for family.” Nothing seems to have changed in the intervening years. According to Stefancic and Delgado, the misery gets underway in law school. “Law students experience many of the same symp- toms—frequent bouts of illness, problems with relationships, weight gain or loss, bitterness and withdrawal, use of chemical crutches including drugs—that their elders in law practice do.”They note, “Practically every law student agrees that law school made him or her more argumentative.” Then come the pressures of the practice of law, and everything gets even more complicated, competitive, and combative. Stefancic and Delgado point to “harried lawyers [who] snap and snipe at each other and practice dirty tricks,” long work hours that rob lawyers of “time for personal pursuits or their families,” daydreams “of leaving the law for a different calling,” and the physical and mental toll of “unrelieved stress combined with hasty meals and lack of exercise.” The authors also delve into substance abuse and addiction, depression and suicide, and burnout and dropout, problems that mainly affect legal professionals. (By the way, they believe firm size makes little difference.) Plenty of warnings on work-life imbalance, job stress, psychological distress, and related topics have been sounded over and over. But far too many lawyers continue to downplay their vulnerabilities, their pains, their ailments. They despair rather than self-care. They conceal rather than heal. They let it happen, and emotionally and physically suffer the consequences. As do others. Clients. Work product. Colleagues. Family and friends. Opponents. Now add the disruptions and uncertainties we lawyers have had to endure both person- ally and professionally during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is a wonder any of us remains functional. There is a choice, however. As the saying goes, “Your money or your life.” Choose wellness. BY JUSTICE MICHAEL B. HYMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Choose Wellness EDITOR’S BRIEFCASE

EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Justice Michael B. Hyman Illinois Appellate Court

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Anne Ellis Proactive Worldwide, Inc.

SUMMARY JUDGMENTS EDITOR Daniel A. Cotter Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC

YLS JOURNAL EDITORS Jacob B. Berger Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC Alexander Passo Latimer LeVay Fyock LLC Kaitlin King Hart David Carson LLP

Carolyn Amadon Samuel, Son & Co. Daniel J. Berkowitz Illinois Attorney General’s Of fi ce Amy Cook The Farmer Chef Alliance Nina Fain Janet Sugerman Schirn Family Trust Anthony F. Fata Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP Clifford Gately Hinshaw & Culbertson Jasmine Villaflor Hernandez Cook County State’s Attorney’s Of fi ce Lynn Semptimphelter Kopon Kopon Airdo LLC John Levin Kathryn C. Liss DePaul University College of Law Bonnie McGrath Law Of fi ce of Bonnie McGrath Clare McMahon Law Of fi ce of Clare McMahon Pamela S. Menaker Clifford Law Of fi ces Kathleen Dillon Narko Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Adam J. Sheppard Sheppard Law Firm, PC Richard Lee Stavins

Robbins, Saloman & Patt, Ltd. Rosemary Simota Thompson Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. Circuit Court of Cook County

THE CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION Sharon Nolan Director of Marketing

4 May/June 2021

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