Lawyers and Happiness (And a Little Bit of Virtue Ethics)

Most of the lawyers I know are happy to be lawyers.  They take pride in their work, and they feel good about their role in the justice system.  Life as a lawyer isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding and fulfilling.

But it seems like there’s a perception that has intensified in the past decade or so that lawyers are miserable—that we feel alienated from the profession and that justice rarely plays a role in our tedious, all-consuming work.  There’s a stereotype of a “soulless” lawyer who works to pay off debt or make more money but who feels no satisfaction with the job.    I’m not sure how true this stereotype is (see above), but it’s prevalent and widely discussed.  (Raise the Bar:  Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession is an interesting book published by the ABA that contains multiple essays exploring the “miserable lawyer” question.)  I want my law students to become lawyers who are happy in their chosen profession, and this blog seems as good a place as any to consider happiness and lawyering. (more…)

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Hope and Optimism

1345598329_3dd58320f2Every year, about this time, the stress level here at the law school starts to rise.  First-year students seem particularly susceptible.  I hear the word “outline” a lot in the halls.  Students talk about how much they studied over the weekend instead of how much fun they had.  Everyone gets a little bit more serious.

Serious is fine.

Frantic is counter-productive. (more…)

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Writing Competition Success

I am pleased to announce that 3L Douglas Hoffer just won third place in the James E. Beckley National Writing Competition, which is sponsored by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association.  Doug received a cash prize, and his paper, “A Square Peg in a Round Hole:  Why the Investment Company Act is a Poor Regulatory Fit for Hedge Funds,” will be published in the PIABA Law Journal later this year or early next year. I encourage students to follow in…

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California Moves Towards Civil Right to Counsel

Today California became the first state to establish a pilot program to provide appointed counsel to low-income people in civil legal matters.    The program is scheduled to be in effect from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2017.  Low -income people will receive appointed counsel for assistance in critical civil legal matters in areas like disability law, family law, and housing law.  California will pay for the program by redirecting a $10 court fee increase that had already been approved.…

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Law School Hosts Regional Writing Conference

This weekend, from Friday evening through Saturday, the Law School hosted the Central Region Legal Writing Conference, welcoming more than 100 attendees, not only from the central United States but from all over the country.  The theme was “Climate Change:  Alternative Sources of Energy in Legal Writing,” and those who attended seemed energized by the interesting speakers and lively discussion among faculty who teach research and writing skills. Professor Alison Julien took the lead in organizing this conference, and several…

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