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The Gift Of Time

A week or so ago,'s Morning Minute contained a short piece that led with the headline, "Firms Are Trying To Give Burnt-Out Attorneys the Gift of Time". As you might imagine, it caught my eye.

A friend, Jarrett Green, was quoted in the piece as saying, "You can give people thousands of vacation hours a year. But if you don't decrease billable hours, then nobody will take it". Well said, and very much on target-- the billable hour has been a big-time thorn in a lot of people's sides, for a long time.

And I got to thinking: What do we actually do with the time that is given to us? Dancing on a white sand beach, or dining lavishly on exotic fare we don't treat ourselves to at home, are things that feel good about for a minute, or a day, or even a week. But what about the rest of the year?

If law firm leaders are finally thinking about time, maybe they can also think about what lawyers are doing with that precious commodity? Time spent away from the office, doesn't mean it's time that lawyers are not working-- if we've learned anything the past year+, we've learned that billable hour pressure isn't susceptible to the COVID virus.

Counterintuitively, time spent in the office might actually afford more meaningful rest if it's spent mindfully, doing something for one's self -- something like meditation. Traditionally. R & R has been equated almost exclusively with time away-- but, for some of us, maybe it doesn't have anything to do with where. Maybe it's more about what.

Mindfulness and meditation are components of well-being-- mental/emotional fitness are every bit as important as physical fitness. Yet, despite common sense and overwhelming statistical evidence to the contrary, many of us in the legal profession remain stubbornly skeptical.

Gifting suggests a lot of things-- maybe, it suggests that our leaders really care (even though they're reluctant to show it)? Maybe they care enough about the women and men who work with them, to intiate a well-being program that provides opportunity to pursue alternative activities during the workday other than eating lunch and billing hours?

Time can be a gift, if it's linked to caring for others-- and caring for ourselves!


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