In an effort to escape the rain, I recently took a free form browse of the Harvard Coop.
This is where I found an interesting read:
The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law (2010)
The Happy Lawyer, by Nancy Levit & Douglas O. Linder, offers a mix of pop psychology, insightful anecdotes and practical tips.
The authors affirm that happiness is relative, and a function of science, personality and social factors. They then assert that happiness is in tension with itself, given the competing factors that comprise short term happiness, long-term happiness and general steady satisfaction.
The authors next attempt to explain why a lawyer may be unhappy. Perhaps the profession adversely selects unhappy people (called introverts). Perhaps the profession adversely selects people whose high expectations and feelings of happiness entitlement are at odds with reality.
Unhappiness in the law may also now arise from changes in the legal market. For example, the law is becoming more of a business and less of a profession, meaning that lawyers may tend to feel less in control of their work – and thus more unsatisfied.
What to do. Well, first the authors remind us that the law has its upside: It’s a noble profession which allows one to make a difference.
Next, the authors exhort law-student- and lawyer- job seekers to consider the following questions:
- What gives you meaning
- What gives you pleasure
- What are your strengths
The book also offers tips to law firms for creating a happier work environment, including redesigning office space to allow for water cooler time.
Finally, the book outlines steps for finding happiness:
- Find work that interests you
- Align your work with your values
- Balance your work and the rest of your life
- Deepen workplace relationships
- Savor the small pleasures
This book is a great read for folks considering law school, law students, current lawyers and pop-psychology hobbyists.