Feature Article: Perspective and Options by Julie A. Fleming
It doesnít hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started:
During a visit to a mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what criterion defines whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."
"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because itís bigger than the spoon or the teacup."
"No," said the Director, "a normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"
As lawyers, we so often develop tunnel vision. We may be creative when it comes to case work—ready to dream up new and inventive legal theories to help our clients achieve their goals. But when it comes to our own lives, we often fall into a rut. Of course I have to be at the office from early til late; thatís how itís always been. Of course I have to continue practicing a particular kind of law; thatís my specialty. Of course I went to work at the biggest and best law firm in town; thatís the goal everybody worked for in law school.
And the truth is, thereís nothing wrong with any of those "ruts" unless they donít fit. If I hate practicing criminal defense work but Iíve been doing it for 10 years, the point of decision comes when I realize that I could switch to a different specialty that might be more within my area of interest, or one that better complements the personal life I want to lead. Not to say that there are no costs involved in making a change, because there may well be enormous costs. But the highest cost of all lies in failing to see the options.
If we feel stuck, without options, in an uncomfortable practice (or in a firm that isnít a good fit, or in a relationship that doesnít meet our needs, or anything along those lines), chances are good that weíll fight for a little while but eventually give up the struggle, succumb to the familiar even if itís uncomfortable. But if we see options, the struggle may be more intense because weíre struggling with the situation as well as the options weíve identified, but eventually weíll have the ability to make a choice. The choice may demand a huge investment from us, but we avoid the impotent sense of surrender. Choice provides power.
Sometimes the answer is both as clear and as obscure as pulling the bathtub plug when presented with the options of a bucket, teacup, or a spoon to use to empty the tub. Alternatives that may be obvious to someone standing outside the situation may be invisible to the person facing it.
What challenges are you facing? What options do you have? Can you identify all of the options (including those hidden in plain view) and the results of each? Thatís the moment of decision and the moment of power.
Julie A. Fleming, J.D., A.C.C. provides attorney development coaching and consulting to law firm associates and partners, focusing on topics such as leadership, client, and professional development; career strategy; and work/life integration. A certified leadership coach (Georgetown University), Julie publishes the weekly email newsletter Leadership Matters for Lawyers and posts often on the Life at the Bar Blog. Learn more at www.LifeAtTheBar.com or by contacting Julie by telephone at 800.758.6214 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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by David Mills
Courtoons are the creation of David Mills, an Ohio appellate lawyer who works with litigants and law firms involved in civil and criminal cases in federal courts across the country. Visit David's law firm website at www.MillsFederalAppeals.com
101 Reasons to Kill All the Lawyers: #51: They Enjoy Causing Upset
by Paul Brennan
How to fight your own battles
Other people upset you. One day you realize that the real problem is that some people will not surrender to your charm offensive and behave in the way that you think they should, even if it is for their own good.
You have tried standing up for yourself but, win or lose, you just donít enjoy it as much as people toeing your line voluntarily.
The answer is to stand up for someone else. Fighting other peopleís battles is far easier. For example, the risk of losing money is quite bearable when it is not your money, as is the risk of physical harm. In fact, you will find yourself being quite aggressive and even brave on their account.
Being released from their own commitments, they may want to fight your battles. This is where your problem really begins, as you do not want these potential champions to mess it up. Therefore, fighting everybodyís battles is a mistake. You must pick and choose carefully, by assessing the fighting capabilities of potential champions, which can be divided into three categories: physical, verbal or just not speaking to people and causing an atmosphere. It is best to have some champions in each category.
Next you will need to carefully analyse your opponents. Some opponents think that by making other people unhappy it makes them feel better; maybe it does. But, to get maximum enjoyment they must stick to their own area of expertise in order to reduce the risk of losing. For instance, the opponent who creates atmospheres is supreme in many work and family situations but is understandably afraid of a person who will beat them up for doing it. They will even avoid anyone who might shout at them. Whereas, you are a good loser, opponents are generally bad losers and therefore, must spend a lot of time working out who to pick on.
But what happens if the person who you are fighting on someone elseís behalf makes it personal against you and you start to experience all the pain of fighting your own battles? In that case, you immediately hand it over. With the right champion you can even have them beaten up as an example to other opponents who want to step out of line. This works particularly well in the case of family members or work colleagues.
Once you have a stable of champions you will be tempted to revisit old scores. The older you get, the better the element of surprise. Resist it.
9. Losing My Jurisdiction—in R.E.M. (double points!)
8. U + Ur Learned Hand—Pink
7. Injunction Junction, What's Your Function?—Courthouse Rock
6. I Can't Get No (Cause of Action)—The Rolling Stones
5. I Wanna Be Subpoenaed—The Ramones
4. Estopped! In the Name of Love!—Diana Ross and the Supreme Court Justices
3. I Second That Motion—Smokey Robinson
2. Fight For Your Right (to Ex Parte)!—Beastie Boys
1. Hey, Jurisprudence—The Beatles
Huma Rashid is a Chicago law student interested in pursuing property law and thinks the Rule Against Perpetuity is fun. She has a background in American and British literature, can write motions for injunctions before having her morning coffee, and sleeps with a tall stack of Gilbertís guides under her pillow. A strident proponent of integrating social media into a professional lifestyle, she maintains a personal law blog (http://black-acre.livejournal.com) and can also be found on Twitter (@huma_rashid).
Video of the Month: The Gross Income Song
Bet you didn't think we could come up with a song for April 15:
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Suzan Charlton is a professional cartoonist who is rumored to practice insurance coverage law as a hobby for a major Washington D.C. law firm. Her cartoons cover a wide range of law-related topics, from law school grades to law firm romance.
Song of the Month: Litigation Explosion
by Mikey Mel & the JDs
I wake up in the morning
put on my suit and go to work
I make my money in litigation honey
I make a lot
but I want more
the floodgates, are open!
get that cash in motion
gonna rub that money on my body like lotion!
Some of you might say that ainít right
takiní peopleís money
keepiní Ďem up late at night
But I donít care what you think
Iíll sue your ma your pops your aunt
take them for everything
and the kitchen sink
I donít care how a case ends as long as Iím the winner
Line the pockets of me and my clients, make the other side's wallets thinner.
And we can do it yea, weíll burn it up! We can do it yea weíll burn it up, in the
Lawpsided Reason #1 to Love Layoffs: the Recession Diet
by Sean Carter
If you've recently been laid off or fear that you will be next (i.e., you are a young lawyer in a large law firm), then take heart. There are some plusses to being "downsized," if you will only look at it the right way. After all, as author Aldous Huxley once said, "Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you." Of course, unlike the rest of us, Huxley actually had a real talent to fall back on, but I digress ....
In times like these, it's important to remember that you choose our attitude. You can either look at your bank account as being almost completely empty or almost completely not full. The choice is yours. Likewise, you choose whether to endure lean times or to become lean and mean as a result of them. This is true both figuratively and literally.
Let's face it. If you're like most of us, you spent the last few years being fat and happy; once again, both figuratively and literally. As a result, you probably no longer fit into, say, your wedding dress, tuxedo, or maybe even your first apartment. The good news is that your weight is about to drop just as fast as your credit score. The even better news is that it isn't going to take willpower or discipline to whip you into shape.
For example, you've probably been out to dinner with friends and thought, "I really should just have the salad." However, the fried calamari looked so good. And you'd heard such good things about the pork tenderloin and garlic mashed potatoes. And, of course, you had to wash down your meal with a bottle of wine. Finally, you topped off the outing with the tiramisu (just to balance out the saltiness of the calamari). And then 7,000 calories later, you could just kick yourself for not ordering the salad; well, assuming that you could lift one of your elephant-like legs off the floor.
Well, this kind of guilt and recrimination is a thing of the past. From now on, you will be able to stick to your diet. You won't have any other choice. The only item on the menu in your price range will be the salad—the house salad. And needless to say, wine and dessert will be out the question. Just think how much your friends will envy your resolve to have just a salad and a glass of tap water.
Of course, a healthy diet is only half of the weight loss picture. The other half is exercise and here is where being unemployed is worth your weight in gold. While in the past you might have achieved limited results with pilates or yoga, you're about to be enrolled in the ultimate workout program—poverty. After all, with those other plans, you go to the gym what—two or three times a week? That's for wimps! The poverty plan is an everyday all-day workout and trust me, you will feel the burn.
You'll feel it as you run for the bus each morning. You'll feel it as you lug your clothes to and from the laundromat. And you'll feel it in a hundred other ways as you are now forced to do the things that you used to pay people to do for you. Before long, you will be transformed from a soft and gelatinous mass of humanity into a lean and mean fighting machine (which will come in handy during your morning bus ride).
Just think, you will once again have the body of a 17-year old. Of course, you will also have the net worth of one, but you can really put a price on youth? My attorney says that you can't. However, what does he know? He got laid off yesterday too.