Articles for Personal Growth

The compilation of articles for professional growth listed below have been selected to provide insight, inspiration and help. Although geared toward lawyers, the articles can be just as useful to family members and others.

Substances and Recovery | Mental HealthStress | Burnout and Compassion Fatigue | Law Students | Self Audit

 

Substances and Recovery

A Lawyer's Fractured Fairy Tale

John Doe’s rise in the legal profession was so rapid that even his peers described both his personal and professional life as full of hard work accompanied with good fortune, good timing and a bit of luck. Clearly, many see John as living the American Dream. So why is John’s family worried that his fairy tale life is about to become a fractured fairy tale? Could it be that they know John is a high-functioning alcoholic?
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What to Expect at Twelve Step Meetings

Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have saved many lives since Bill W. and Dr. Bob first got sober in 1935. Although AA meetings are occasionally depicted in films or on television, nothing can compare to the experience of attending a meeting firsthand. For people who are contemplating attending their first AA meeting, this article may allay some anxiety and dispel some illusions about what to expect.
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Relapse after Long-Term Sobriety

Joe was a successful trial lawyer with an active practice in a small, well-respected firm. Colleagues, clients, and friends like him and saw him as accomplished in every aspect of his life. Well known in his community, he served on the local school board, was active in his church, and directly worked on behalf of several charitable community organizations. Only his wife and a couple of close friends remember the difficult days when Joe struggled with his alcoholism, but that was 24 years ago. Once he sought treatment and went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), his life turned around and he seemed unstoppable in his success – until the day so many years later when he was arrested for drunk driving, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. What happened to this life of recovery? What happened to the sobriety that gave Joe a good life?
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Mental Health

Depression in the Legal Profession

On November 22, 2013, Judge Paul Wilson, the newest member of the Supreme Court of Missouri, gave remarks at the Missouri Bar Fall Committee Meetings Lunch. Some excerpts from his speech follow: So I want to take my 10 minutes with you today to put four separate facts on your radar screens. The gap between the amount of legal services people need throughout our society and their ability to pay for those services has never been larger. This year, the number of unrepresented litigants in our courtrooms will approach 100,000 – and the number has never been that high before. More than 50% of all new lawyers leave private practice within five years of entering the profession. Practicing law is now at the very top of the list of professions with the highest incidence of medically significant depression, disillusionment, and dissatisfaction.
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Shedding Some Light on a Sad Subject

This winter has been a difficult one when it comes to weather. Record-breaking snowfall amounts have many people grappling with how to handle the “winter blues”. Some are considering moving to warmer climates or, at the very least, taking a last minute vacation to a sunnier location. I, on the other hand, am excited to pack up my skis and head to the slopes for some fun and recreation. But there is one aspect of the “winter blues” that I share with those looking to catch the next jet south: the limited amount of daylight during the winter season.
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Managing Anxiety in Uncertain Economic Times

Scary financial news is everywhere we look these days. Layoffs, bankruptcies, foreclosures, portfolio devaluations – there’s a lot to worry about if we let ourselves. Fear can be a friend or foe. Fear is a friend when it motives us to “right action,” such as building up savings, deferring unnecessary expenditures, getting bills out timely, and generally taking care of business.
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Very Personal Issues and Effective Practice

Attorneys and law students are at an increased risk for alcohol abuse, depression and marital/family concerns. The rates of alcohol abuse, depression and divorce for attorneys have all been identified as above average compared to other professions.
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Lawyer Suicide

Suicide is one of the most preventable forms of death. In the United States, more people die each year by suicide than by homicide. It is the eleventh leading cause of death and the fourth leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 24 to 44 years of age. Most people find it a difficult subject to discuss. However, by discussing suicide and bringing it into the light so to speak, lives can be saved.
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Stress

How to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

During a recent conversation regarding the practice of law in today’s challenging world, an attorney remarked that “Stress might be unavoidable, but I don’t have to let it run the show.” ... Taking action now before stress sends you a personal “wake up call” gives you more choices, more control, and less negative consequences in the future. Not only has a strong body of research found connections between chronic stress and depression, anxiety, and alcohol/other drug abuse, but chronic stress has also been linked to heart disease, hypertension, insomnia, digestive disorders, memory impairment, and immune system dysfunction. The question is: Are you ready to do something about it?
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Strategies for a Stress Free Vacation

Summer is officially here. It has been argued that we in the USA don’t vacation often enough, long enough, or well enough. In fact, we often try to work even while on vacation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33% of attorneys work 50 or more hours a week on average. As you make plan your vacations, here are some strategies to consider in an effort to relax and make the most of your precious time off work.
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Stress Prevention and Coping Tips

The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program is a professional, confidential counseling program designed to serve members of The Missouri Bar. We seek to help lawyers, judges, law students and family members overcome personal concerns that interfere with professional or personal well-being. We address substance abuse, depression, anxiety, marital and family concerns, stress, burnout, mental health, caregiving or work related issues. All MOLAP services are free of charge. For confidential assistance, call 1-800-688-7859.
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How to Unplug from Technology

Attorneys are increasingly using technology to keep in touch with clients, search legal databases and submit electronic filings. Technology use among attorneys will continue to increase due to its’ cost effectiveness, productivity benefits and ease of client access. This rise in technology use is accompanied by the risk of information overload. Here are some suggestions on ways to keep your work focused on customer service and minimize electronic overload during your workday.
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Conquering Procrastination

Lack of communication and lack of diligence are the top two ethical complaints clients make about attorneys overall, not only in Missouri but in general. In 2012, these two categories areas alone accounted for 50% of total complaints resulting in OCDC investigations. Procrastination is a common challenge that can raise the risk of complaints about communication and diligence. If procrastination is a concern, any gains in minimizing that that tendency can be helpful to avoid problems and protect your bottom line. 
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Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Recognizing and Recovering from Burnout

Webster's dictionary defines burnout as the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as the result of prolonged stress or frustration. Exhaustion tops the list of symptoms of burnout and appears to be a hallmark feature. Common symptoms include exhaustion, fatigue, detachment, boredom, cynicism, sadness, annoyance or irritability. Attorneys facing burnout often feel drained, as if they have nothing left to give, feel a lack of achievement, purpose and sense of hope. Some experience distrust or a sense of impending failure. Burnout is a disillusioning experience.
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Judges and Compassion Fatigue

Judges are exposed to a number of risk factors for compassion fatigue: graphic medical evidence, 911 tapes, photos and videos of injuries, victim impact statements, testimony at trial and sentencing, and statements of surviving family members. Judges are expected to be neutral in the face of tragedy, perform duties impartially without being unduly swayed by emotion, and serve as the balance point and decision maker. Highly complex, emotionally charged cases can take a toll over time.
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Law Students

Handling the Demands of Law School

Congratulations on your decision to attend law school. You will be joining a learned, respected, challenging and interesting profession. You will have an opportunity to learn how to help protect the rights of others and help people dealing with difficult circumstances. Your hard work in law school will continue after you graduate. In 2010-2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that a third of attorneys work 50 or more hours a week.
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Self Audit

Great Expectations vs. Realistic Expectations: The Traditional End of Year Self Audit

As a practicing attorney, what better time than now to reflect on the past year, both professionally and personally, as to where you have been, where you are presently, and where you plan to be. In fact, this may have become an annual tradition for you or you may ask, why take the time for a self-audit?
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