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Book reviews: Two books for better health
The practicePRO Lending Library has two great books on wellness issues that you can borrow.
If you are looking for help in finding more balance in your life, The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and Work, by George W. Kaufman, is just for you. Kaufman, who was a successful and seasoned partner for 40 years at a large U.S. law firm, goes beyond the usual review of steps you can take to reduce stress. Using personal anecdotes and stories, he takes the reader through a deep and personal journey of self-discovery.
The book walks you through your life and work choices, making you reflect on what you find is positive about the practice of law, and how the practice of law affects you in negative ways. The book will help you identify the sources of stress in your life, and give you tools and strategies to cope with them.
As Kaufman puts it, the book asks “how the law fits in you, not how you fit in the law.” This will, in turn, help you understand how and where you need to change, whether it means changing how you practise, shifting your practice to something different, or leaving the law altogether. The last chapter helps you build a personal action plan for change. The practical advice in Kaufman’s book will help you find more balance in life and work.
The second book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Healing: Solutions for Addiction and Depression by Don Carroll, former director of the North Carolina Lawyer’s Assistance Program, examines how addiction and depression manifest in the legal profession in different ways than in the general population, and the treatment options best suited to lawyers.
Carroll believes there are traits prevalent in a lawyer’s personality (e.g. perfectionism, control, idealism) that make them thrive in the work-heavy, adversarial environment of the law, but can also make lawyers more prone to addiction and depression. The same traits can also make it difficult to admit there’s a problem. Drinking or drugs can (temporarily) help deal with the fear of losing a case, the bitterness when justice isn’t seen to be done, and the need to feel in control despite drowning in workload.
The book explores the treatment options available for addictions and depression. Carroll advocates treating the mental and spiritual aspects of the problem, not just the physical. So in addition to describing the physiological causes and treatments of addictions and depression, he strongly believes counselling and peer supported programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are crucial to addressing other underlying issues.
Carroll’s book will have a narrower audience than Kaufmann’s, but will be helpful for someone looking to better understand the options lawyers have for getting help for addictions and depression.
The practicePRO Lending Library has more than 100 books on a wide variety of law practice management topics. Ontario lawyers can borrow books in person or via e-mail. A full catalogue of books is available online (practicepro.ca/library). Books can be borrowed for three weeks. LAWPRO ships loaned books to you at our expense, and you return books to us at your expense.