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Burn The Ships

I read an interesting piece recently, speculating about the future of the legal profession, following the COVID pandemic. The title (reiterated above) caught my eye, and got me wondering. What are the figurative "ships", and why would they need to be burned?

Conventional wisdom teaches that lawyers are uncommonly slow to respond to change-- and being a retired lawyer myself, I'd say that's largely true. For a profession that has so much to say about so many things, we are a sadly incurious lot (at least, professionally)-- and that's too bad, because change is often borne out of curiosity.

Which is one of the reasons I retired from the practice of law-- I guess you could say that my curiosity got the better of me. And what, exactly, was I so curious about? Well, one of the things, was a recurring curiosity about the future of the profession-- would it be a return to the way things were, or was the profession destined to change?

I made a personal decision to "burn the ships" some months ago, when I decided to retire from the practice, but the COVID pandemic has created a twist that most of us (including me) didn't anticipate. At first, I was narrowly focused on mindfulness and meditation, but since the outbreak of the pandemic, I've come to see that they are both components of a larger concern that could easily become (if it isn't already), the future of the legal profession: I speak, of course, of lawyer well-being.

Professionally, lawyers spend most of the day thinking about other peoples' problems and the ability to do that competently, depends in great measure on their personal well-being. It's really as simple as 1+1=2. A well lawyer is a more effective lawyer, and a more effective lawyer makes for a more productive profession.

Lawyer well-being was rarely a concern, in the past. But it certainly will be, in the future. Maybe we don't have to literally (or figuratively) burn the ships of the legal profession's past, but we certainly have to build some new ones.

The first "ship" should be the U.S.S. (or H.M.S., or whatever) Well-Being!


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