I watched a lot of Law & Order growing up. My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1988 (the same year that Korea last hosted the Olympics). I was 10 years old and didn’t speak a word of English. Neither did anyone else in my family. As I watched, I repeated the phrases the lawyers said on the show, trying to learn the words, the intonation, the meaning. When we moved to the U.S., we settled in Astoria, New York, where my grandparents owned a grocery store. My dad went from being an architect at Samsung to working seven days a week at the grocery store. My mom had been an art teacher; in New York, she worked at a nail salon. Here’s the thing. When you’re an immigrant in a country where you don’t speak the language, where you aren’t familiar with its rules and laws, you get taken advantage of. We moved into an apartment with no hot water but plenty of cockroaches and rats. We didn’t know for years that you can report the landlord to housing … [Read more...] about My path to law: one immigrant’s journey
How do i know if i have depression
In the course of our careers, co-worker relationships can become some of the closest connections we may have in life. We get to know our co-workers, often on a quite personal level, when we work closely with them. In many cases, we may spend more time with them than we do with our own families. And, sometimes, we may notice that things are off with a colleague. We sense that something may be going on, but we’re not sure if we’re misreading the situation or if it is our place to say or do anything. The onset of depression may be something we suspect but that we may not know if or how to approach.Statistically, one in four women and one in 10 men can expect to develop depression at some point in their lives. These statistics are based on those who self-report. In actuality, men are likely just as susceptible as women are to depression, but men are often more loathe to name, accept, or admit their feelings, preferring instead to “act like a man” and “suck it … [Read more...] about The Lawyer Therapist: Can I help a colleague with depression?
Not long after Kris Parson returned home from the war in Iraq, his girlfriend began calling the police to their house in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, a suburb about 15 miles north of Minneapolis. She’d dial 911 to report that she and Parson were fighting, and that she was afraid he was going to hurt her. Every time police came to the house—on at least a dozen occasions—things would calm down and the officers would leave. The police found no evidence that Parson, who served as a combat engineer with the Minnesota National Guard, had physically hurt his girlfriend, and he hadn’t done anything to warrant an arrest.Then one night she called the police again. This time she said Parson had put his hands around her throat and tried to strangle her. The police arrested him on felony charges of domestic violence.While he was being booked at the jail, Parson knew just whom to call. There was this lawyer over in Minneapolis who handled lots of cases for veterans and had once … [Read more...] about The Brain Defense: Vets with head trauma, stress find mercy in court
Are you unhappy at work? Is it time to leave your job, or should you look for other options to improve your current work conditions? Trust your intuition, and don’t beat yourself up with negative thoughts about workplace problems being all your fault, says Gayle Victor, a Chicago-area lawyer and social worker who counsels attorneys and their families. She spoke with the ABA Journal’s Stephanie Francis Ward in this month’s Asked and Answered podcast.Podcast Transcript Advertisement: This podcast is brought to you by Amicus Attorney, developers of legal practice management software. Let Amicus help you run your practice, so you can focus on what you do best: practice law. Visit AmicusAttorney.com and get started today.Stephanie Francis Ward: Some lawyers think there’s not much of a future in the jobs they have, but the idea of finding something else and leaving can cause significant anxiety. I’m Stephanie Francis Ward and on today’s episode of the ABA … [Read more...] about Is it time to leave your current job? (podcast with transcript)
How job-related stress affects lawyers’ mental health has recently come to the fore. (Even the last season of Better Call Saul took a hard look at stress and mental health in the profession.)But “getting help is risky,” lawyer coach J. Kim Wright recently wrote. “We fear being seen as weak or ineffective. We don’t want our colleagues to know we are in distress.”On Monday, the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs—as part of a National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being—released a report with recommendations to leaders in the courts, regulators’ offices, legal employers, law schools, and bar associations.“Practices that rob lawyers of a sense of autonomy and control over their schedules and lives are especially harmful to their well-being,” the report said. “Research studies show that high job demands paired with a lack of a sense of control breeds depression and other psychological disorders. Research … [Read more...] about How have you dealt with job-related stress?
How to slay student debt, protect your practice and retire in style–our experts help three lawyers finesse their finances. Redoing the Math Lawyers with staggering student loan debt have options, but many mean extra interest payments down the roadJanelle Jordan was never under any illusions about the amount of money she was borrowing to put herself through school. But she didn’t really appreciate how tough it would be to repay the loans. Jordan graduated from law school with some $200,000 in student loans accumulated over the course of her collegiate and graduate education. She’s put off paying them back for as long as possible, but time has run out on all of her lender-sanctioned delays. And the 31-year-old government attorney has no idea where she is going to find the extra $850 a month to make her loan repayments.“It’s kind of depressing, but I have hope that it will not always be like this,” says Jordan of Fairmount Heights, Md.So far, Jordan … [Read more...] about Real Lawyers, Real Solutions
Spoiler alert: The final two episodes of the third season of AMC’s series Better Call Saul let viewers glimpse a world where lawyers suffer from stress and other various mental illnesses. Unfortunately, the portrayals are alarmingly close to the challenges practicing attorneys face. We all contemplate the line between career and “everything else”—I’ve always tried my best to balance it. The goal is to grow your practice without sacrificing the legal product you produce for your clients, or the emotional product you produce for your family and friends. Still, I know attorneys who have crossed into the danger zone. Some are still alive. Sadly, some are not.Fans of Better Call Saul know the characters: Jimmy McGill—who is at times both transitioning into, and away from, his Saul Goodman alter ego introduced in Breaking Bad—and his law partner Kim Wexler. At this point in the series they are struggling to build their fledgling practices. The … [Read more...] about ‘Better Call Saul’ highlights stress and mental illness in the legal profession
How do you respond to Gandhi’s words? With a deep breath and an “amen,” or with a sense of certainty that although he may have been a great man (and an excellent lawyer to boot), he couldn’t have possibly hacked law practice today?You might think that over the years we would have made more progress toward curbing the demon of perfectionism. Perhaps we have–in some professions. But in the legal world, this mindset remains prevalent. In fact, it seems only to have become more pervasive.Colleges and universities across the country offer information to help students cope with a variety of psychological and behavioral difficulties. The University of Texas, for example, is one of numerous schools that publish booklets on the effects of perfectionism. They describe these costs: depression, performance anxiety, social anxiety, writer’s block and extreme compulsiveness. Other sources point to effects such as insomnia, pessimism and sometimes … [Read more...] about Problematic Perfectionism
This year, divorce attorney Joseph N. DuCanto celebrated his 50th anniversary–not of being married but of practicing law.“My kids say, ‘Isn’t it time for you to take it easy?’ and I say, ‘For what?’ ” says the Chicago lawyer, 79.Most days, DuCanto can be found in his office by 9:30 am. Although he no longer tries cases, due in part to hearing loss, the former U.S. Marine still contributes to his firm, one of the largest family law firms in the country, by bringing in new business and facilitating settlements. When asked about retiring, he’ll tell you that he intends to go out with his boots on.People age differently, DuCanto adds, and while some seniors “might be ready for the rocking chair,” he isn’t. “I have some infirmities but am still able to be mobile without assistance. I’m still able to talk up a storm and keep up a sharp conversation.”While DuCanto is quick to point out that he’s … [Read more...] about Peak Performance
Is this the way to write a serious article? My lawyer children -Raghenth and Liz, took me to task after reading my thoughts on this wall of the need to usher in a new work culture for the men in black robes. Half sentences and informality ruling the roost!!!, they taunted me.Sorry, let me confess. I am writing no formal article at all. Just expressing my thoughts and concerns. Enough of unread prose has already been written by me and I have exhausted my quota of the same for this life during the quarter century of judgeship at various tiers. I am back at the crease playing my third innings now– as a Senior Counsel in the Supreme Court. In the 90 seconds window that I may get if I am fortunate on a Miscellaneous day, I must try to put across only thoughts/ideas and condensed thoughts/ideas only. So be it here also. Excuse me for that.When I returned to the bar after 25 years I was surprised how respectable lawyers with dignity can appear and argue here. Believe me, it is a milling … [Read more...] about Can We Not Do Better [Part-II] A Proximity Card For Management Skills To Enter The Supreme Court