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Performative Busyness

A piece published recently in's Morning Minute, trumpeted a headline that caught my attention: Your Colleagues Want You To Stop Bragging About How Much You Work. Quoting a prominent defense lawyer (Canadian, of course) the lead summary ended with the observation that, " A well done steak is not more valuable to me because it took longer to cook".

That'd be one more arrow in the quiver of those (including me) who believe that the billable hour should be abandoned. Being unlikely to change any time soon, however, I will acknowledge that the billable hour is convenient and easy to measure-- but as a wellbeing metric, it's pure poison.

But I would rather concentrate on the upside of wellbeing, than the downside of the billable hour-- because the importance of wellbeing (particularly, in the legal profession) is finally receiving more recognition. That recognition is both welcome and overdue-- welcome in that lawyer wellbeing deserves the attention of the profession, and overdue in that the inverse of wellbeing has already taken a dreadful toll.

A lot has already been said and written about lawyer wellbeing, both personal and professional. Fellow advocate, Nick Bloy, makes the point that many managing partners are well aware of the benefits of wellbeing, both on the individual level and the institutional level-- but they seem to lack is a vision, or understanding, of what their firms might look like if wellbeing were to be made a priority.

Nobody has a crystal ball, but I think that lack of vision can be resolved by focusing on one fundamental concept: Sustainability. Can the legal profession survive without recognizing and embracing the role of wellbeing? Of course. But will it thrive? Will it grow?

Can the present-day stature of performative busyness be expanded, to also value the importance of thriving?


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