Jump to content
pzabbythesecond

Burnout in the profession

Recommended Posts

At risk of sounding like a broken record ...

To whoever this applies to: If you are burning out or anticipating a burn out, contact your professional support association.* 

It is the Lawyer's Assistance Program in BC.

If you are thinking, "well, my problem isn't serious enough", "it's not that bad yet", "I don't want to be talked into staying", "I don't actually have a problem, I'm reacting normally to a miserable reality", please put those thoughts to the side for long enough to get in touch with someone.  If it matters to you, then it's serious.  The point isn't to find a way to stay in the profession, but to give you tools and insight to help you live life according to your own values, whether you stay or go.  And if it turns out you actually are doing your best and there's little you need to learn or change, then it won't hurt to be more sure about that.

As for it being bad but not bad enough ... "Now that I've done it, I'm really glad I waited so long" -- No one says this about virginity and no one says this after getting help.

I acknowledge that there is no panacea and counselling will not cure every problem for every person.  But talk about that after giving it a shot.

 

* Ideally this organization is composed of counselor's that are lawyer/ex-lawyers that know to take minimal notes, assuming they take any at all.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, BabyRhinoRainbow said:

I always assume people who thought law school was great must have had awful undergrad experiences. I loved every minute of my undergraduate degree. Law school was superficial and utilitarian. I would have quit after the first semester if I had no desire to practice law. If not for the clinic experiences and summer jobs I don't think I would have survived.

8 hours ago, Diplock said:

I have a theory that students have, at most, one really good and formative educational experience in their lives. Some students peak in high school. Some have great experiences in undergrad. Some really find themselves in law school. I actually share your experience entirely. Things came together for me spectacularly in undergrad, for reasons very specific to my own life and which wouldn't be relevant to anyone else. But after that, law school was just something I had to get through in order to do what I wanted to from then on. I didn't hate it. But I didn't love it either. And yes, the clinics, hands-on experiences, etc. are what saved it for me.

Note, the theory above isn't really a firmly held opinion so much as a pet rule-of-thumb. I'm sure there are exceptions. But I guess my point is this. If we're thinking in terms of "stages of life" and how well you manage during each one, there are things you'll really love and there are things which, much as I hate to admit it, sometimes you just need to get through. Not that I encourage anyone to suffer in misery. But if what you're feeling isn't so much misery as it is "I don't think I want to do this for the rest of my life" then it's reasonable to take heart that the next stage can and should be different. Of course you have to take agency in making it different also. But I don't really believe that legal practice is some kind of extension of law school. To me, the two are very different indeed.

Warning: some lengthy happy hour induced thoughts incoming.

I also share this experience (keeping in mind I've never practiced: pats self on head). I wouldn't have continued onward without clinics and other student casework. I probably would've graduated, but I would not have articled and would not have participated in the rest of the licensing process. 

I'm not sure if this fits into the theory. But I think that if you really like the law, you'll really like law school. If you don't like the law, then you probably won't like law school very much. And frankly, I don't care about law for law's sake. I don't care about how we got from Law to Kapp in section 15 Charter jurisprudence. I'm not really interested in the basic proprietary and economic interests behind the law of negligence. I don't find Lord Denning decisions charming. I usually did not find class discussions interesting.

I guess the above paragraph hardly sounds like a penetrating insight. But, for me, it was big when I realized that you don’t need to like law to like legal work. I immediately liked clinic work, because clinical work (and presumably, retail/individual-based private practices, like family, criminal, immigration, and some other admin-related work), is a human endeavour. I got to see the best and worst in people. One client who committed a series of violent assaults, and who has some absolutely terrifying tendencies (probably stemming from PTSD and addictions issues), tried to give me his lunch when he heard my stomach growled in cells. Another guy (convicted of a sexual assault) asked me to help give his shoes to another kid who he met in the morning transport from the youth facility (he wasn’t trying to smuggle contraband, either, I checked), because the other kid’s shoes were too small and hurt his feet.

Clinics gave me my first chance to tell these people’s stories – to draw out human complexity, show that clients were more than the one-dimensional image in the disclosure package or Applicant’s notice, and discuss the law’s impact on people’s actual lives. While some of the other students struggled with the sadness of poverty and preferred the cleanness of academia, civil litigation, or commercial transactions, I suspect that there are other people like me who found law school sterile and disengaging, because, with the exception of a few decisions like R. v. Boudreault, appellate-level law has less to do with impact on the litigants’ lives than it does with the internal consistency of the jurisprudence.

In the context of the undergrad vs. law school discussion, I also liked undergrad better than law school. I can’t say that observation is entirely consistent with my human experience vs. sterile academia theory above. But to my mind, the link is this: both exposed me to a range of new experiences, that have broadened my horizons. Reading all the pretentious philosophy in undergrad mostly just familiarized me with a bunch of pretentious philosophy. But a few works, like Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem or Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality, actually caused me to rethink how I judge and evaluate other people’s actions. Likewise, doing stuff like sentencing hearings made me look past my first impression of people based upon what they did, and see that people can be horrible, funny, and kind, all in pretty short order. 

In any case, my own experience is that clinics and undergrad broadened my horizons. Law school didn’t. That’s not to say law school had no value: aside from being a necessary condition to do clinical work, it did teach me to do focussed and objective legal analysis. That means I can actually advise and represent people without just spewing gut feelings and lay opinions. But I didn’t enjoy spending three years feeling isolated from real experiences, and I’m much happier now that I’m articling, where reading law is a means to an end for clients, not the end in itself.

Edited by realpseudonym
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, realpseudonym said:

Warning: some lengthy happy hour induced thoughts incoming.

I also share this experience (keeping in mind I've never practiced: pats self on head). I wouldn't have continued onward without clinics and other student casework. I probably would've graduated, but I would not have articled and would not have participated in the rest of the licensing process. 

I'm not sure if this fits into the theory. But I think that if you really like the law, you'll really like law school. If you don't like the law, then you probably won't like law school very much. And frankly, I don't care about law for law's sake. I don't care about how we got from Law to Kapp in section 15 Charter jurisprudence. I'm not really interested in the basic proprietary and economic interests behind the law of negligence. I don't find Lord Denning decisions charming. I usually did not find class discussions interesting.

I guess the above paragraph hardly sounds like a penetrating insight. But, for me, it was big when I realized that you don’t need to like law to like legal work. I immediately liked clinic work, because clinical work (and presumably, retail/individual-based private practices, like family, criminal, immigration, and some other admin-related work), is a human endeavour. I got to see the best and worst in people. One client who committed a series of violent assaults, and who has some absolutely terrifying tendencies (probably stemming from PTSD and addictions issues), tried to give me his lunch when he heard my stomach growled in cells. Another guy (convicted of a sexual assault) asked me to help give his shoes to another kid who he met in the morning transport from the youth facility (he wasn’t trying to smuggle contraband, either, I checked), because the other kid’s shoes were too small and hurt his feet.

Clinics gave me my first chance to tell these people’s stories – to draw out human complexity, show that clients were more than the one-dimensional image in the disclosure package or Applicant’s notice, and discuss the law’s impact on people’s actual lives. While some of the other students struggled with the sadness of poverty and preferred the cleanness of academia, civil litigation, or commercial transactions, I suspect that there are other people like me who found law school sterile and disengaging, because, with the exception of a few decisions like R. v. Boudreault, appellate-level law has less to do with impact on the litigants’ lives than it does with the internal consistency of the jurisprudence.

In the context of the undergrad vs. law school discussion, I also liked undergrad better than law school. I can’t say that observation is entirely consistent with my human experience vs. sterile academia theory above. But to my mind, the link is this: both exposed me to a range of new experiences, that have broadened my horizons. Reading all the pretentious philosophy in undergrad mostly just familiarized me with a bunch of pretentious philosophy. But a few works, like Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem or Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality, actually caused me to rethink how I judge and evaluate other people’s actions. Likewise, doing stuff like sentencing hearings made me look past my first impression of people based upon what they did, and see that people can be horrible, funny, and kind, all in pretty short order. 

In any case, my own experience is that clinics and undergrad broadened my horizons. Law school didn’t. That’s not to say law school had no value: aside from being a necessary condition to do clinical work, it did teach me to do focussed and objective legal analysis. That means I can actually advise and represent people without just spewing gut feelings and lay opinions. But I didn’t enjoy spending three years feeling isolated from real experiences, and I’m much happier now that I’m articling, where reading law is a means to an end for clients, not the end in itself.

You just gave me some more energy to keep going with this. That's why I came to law school, and that's why I didn't pursue a career in business - even with some pretty sweet offers on the table.

 

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, realpseudonym said:

Warning: some lengthy happy hour induced thoughts incoming.

I also share this experience (keeping in mind I've never practiced: pats self on head). I wouldn't have continued onward without clinics and other student casework. I probably would've graduated, but I would not have articled and would not have participated in the rest of the licensing process. 

I'm not sure if this fits into the theory. But I think that if you really like the law, you'll really like law school. If you don't like the law, then you probably won't like law school very much. And frankly, I don't care about law for law's sake. I don't care about how we got from Law to Kapp in section 15 Charter jurisprudence. I'm not really interested in the basic proprietary and economic interests behind the law of negligence. I don't find Lord Denning decisions charming. I usually did not find class discussions interesting.

I guess the above paragraph hardly sounds like a penetrating insight. But, for me, it was big when I realized that you don’t need to like law to like legal work. I immediately liked clinic work, because clinical work (and presumably, retail/individual-based private practices, like family, criminal, immigration, and some other admin-related work), is a human endeavour. I got to see the best and worst in people. One client who committed a series of violent assaults, and who has some absolutely terrifying tendencies (probably stemming from PTSD and addictions issues), tried to give me his lunch when he heard my stomach growled in cells. Another guy (convicted of a sexual assault) asked me to help give his shoes to another kid who he met in the morning transport from the youth facility (he wasn’t trying to smuggle contraband, either, I checked), because the other kid’s shoes were too small and hurt his feet.

Clinics gave me my first chance to tell these people’s stories – to draw out human complexity, show that clients were more than the one-dimensional image in the disclosure package or Applicant’s notice, and discuss the law’s impact on people’s actual lives. While some of the other students struggled with the sadness of poverty and preferred the cleanness of academia, civil litigation, or commercial transactions, I suspect that there are other people like me who found law school sterile and disengaging, because, with the exception of a few decisions like R. v. Boudreault, appellate-level law has less to do with impact on the litigants’ lives than it does with the internal consistency of the jurisprudence.

In the context of the undergrad vs. law school discussion, I also liked undergrad better than law school. I can’t say that observation is entirely consistent with my human experience vs. sterile academia theory above. But to my mind, the link is this: both exposed me to a range of new experiences, that have broadened my horizons. Reading all the pretentious philosophy in undergrad mostly just familiarized me with a bunch of pretentious philosophy. But a few works, like Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem or Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality, actually caused me to rethink how I judge and evaluate other people’s actions. Likewise, doing stuff like sentencing hearings made me look past my first impression of people based upon what they did, and see that people can be horrible, funny, and kind, all in pretty short order. 

In any case, my own experience is that clinics and undergrad broadened my horizons. Law school didn’t. That’s not to say law school had no value: aside from being a necessary condition to do clinical work, it did teach me to do focussed and objective legal analysis. That means I can actually advise and represent people without just spewing gut feelings and lay opinions. But I didn’t enjoy spending three years feeling isolated from real experiences, and I’m much happier now that I’m articling, where reading law is a means to an end for clients, not the end in itself.

I'm glad you're happy and found a way to relate positively to what you're doing. It sounds like you'll make a fantastic addition to the profession.

I would disagree that appellate advocacy is more about the "internal consistency of the jurisprudence" than the "impact on the litigants' lives", though. There are many appeals I have worked on, such as mandatory minimum challenges, that are very much about the impact on the lives of not only the litigants, but a large number of others as well. Appellate advocacy gets a bad rap for being cerebral but whenever I do it, I appreciate how it can bring about much broader change than a trial decision can. For me, the beauty of learning/reading jurisprudence is that you can and do use it to figure out actual creative solutions for real peoples' real problems. You can feel for people all you want but without a good grasp of the law, you can't do anything for them. I understand what you're saying about how for you, it didn't all come together in a meaningful way until you actually started interacting with the clients and that's great to hear! But from another perspective, I didn't think law school was "sterile" or "academic" because I was already thinking ahead to the practical uses of what I was learning, and I think it is possible to do that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • Update: People have been accepted with worse stats than me at this point...
    • Has anyone out there gone to meet with Dean Holloway for anything? If so, what for? I've been summoned for a chat and I don't know what to expect. I'm sure it's nothing bad but the uncertainty is doing nothing good for my imagination. He seems like the kind of guy who genuinely likes chatting with students so maybe something along those lines? 
    • Depends a lot on where you want to study. I only know about Ontario so here’s info on that region: You would apply to all Ontario schools through OLSAS, a centralized application portal that gathers materials and sends them to the schools. Applications are normally due within the first days of November, the year before you apply. So, November 2019 if you want to start in 2020. Applications will open in late August each year, but you can search the net for last year’s info, which should be very accurate.  There used to be only 3 LSAT dates per year- June, September/October, and January. On your OLSAS application, you must indicate which tests you have already written, and which you intend to write. Many schools would accept any test date, but might put off evaluating your file if you intended to re-write. Some would not look at the January score. It is my understanding that there are many more test dates now. You’d have to check each schools website, but I’d say the general rule applies- for admittance during the 2019-2 cycle, you’d have to write the test before February 2020. 
    • How could you be so sure about his legitimacy? Does it need any sort of boot covers to protect it?
    • Accepted today  L2: 3.71 LSAT: 163  Ontario Resident
×