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Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!

What are the concerns that currently threaten to torpedo the legal profession? There are lots of theories, but I'll put my money on a few threats that might not occur to some folks: Fear, uncertainty and misguided stereotypical thinking.

Ironic? I certainly think so, because defense against fear, uncertainty and/or stereotypical thinking are precisely the reasons that lawyers are hired by clients. We can't seem to protect ourselves from the very things that others hire us to vanquish or overcome, on their behalf!

Statistics confirming that lawyers suffer disproportionally from a variety of both "hard" and "soft" mental health challenges, are thoroughly documented, and widely known. And yet-- in spite of the statistical reality staring us in the face-- the legal profession churns relentlessly forward, refusing to invest in the well-being of the men and women who enable the profession to perpetuate, and thrive.

Is it really the case that highly trained, disciplined lawyers can protect their clients, but not themselves? Is it greed, or professional indifference? Or is it something even more fundamental than that? Maybe it's something hiding in plain sight. Something like (cue music)-- the billable hour-- the alter at which the legal profession worships.

It may have taken lawyers a millennium or two to figure it out-- the billable hour was first implemented only within the last hundred years-- but figure it out, we did. For the benefit of our professional finances, one would suppose. And, sadly, to the detriment of our personal well-being. It seems that the law of unintended consequences affects lawyers, just like everyone else!

Climate change is an inconvenient truth that has received a lot of attention over the past few years-- appropriately so. Another equally compelling "inconvenient truth", is the truth we are finally discovering about lawyer well-being, which has been ignored far too long.

Damn the torpedoes? I'm totally OK with that sentiment-- I don't advocate throwing the baby out, with the bathwater. But, rather than rush ahead to meet the torpedoes at full speed, maybe we can slow down a bit, and consider haw the torpedoes might be dealt with, in a more skillful manner?

Maybe we should take account of unintended (and unforeseen) consequences of the billable hour, rather than stubbornly adhere to the way things have "always" been done (for the last one hundred years)?

Maybe we should mindfully meditate about the torpedoes that are coming our way, and see what comes up!


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