Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2008 - #4.
Addressing Stress Increasing Satisfaction in Law Practice
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL #173, Volume 34, No. 4 SPRING 2008
Addressing Stress Increasing Satisfaction in Law PracticeReviewed by Phyllis E. Rubinstein, Esq.
I am a solo practitioner by choice. I enjoy being able to set my hours, choose areas of practice in which to specialize, accept or reject clients, and decide how much time to allocate to pro bono cases and professional committee work. Many of the choices I have made in developing my practice have been aimed at reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction: I gave up a conflicts contract with the Public Defender's Office; I decided not to handle family law cases unless the parties agreed to resolve their issues outside of court through the collaborative law model, mediation, or negotiation; I built a large social security law practice; and I have participated in a variety of professional activities. Thus, I was delighted to read Stress Management for Lawyers by Amiram Elwork, Ph.D.
Dr. Elwork is the Director of the Law-Psychology Graduate Program at Widener University, one of the few training programs in which students earn doctoral degrees in both law and psychology. He also has a private practice, providing individual counseling and coaching to attorneys and other professionals, as well as management consulting services to law firms and other professional practices.
As a result of his work, Dr. Elwork became aware that lawyers are more likely to experience depression than people in other professions. The causes of depression and/or stress are either environmental or individual. Some environmental stressors apply to other occupations, such as work overload, competition, and difficult people. Other environmental stressors are unique to lawyers, such as the adversarial system and the area of practice. Stressors to which individuals may be predisposed include personality traits, such as perfectionism, emotional unawareness and values, and demographics, such as age, gender and race. Dr. Elwork focuses on how to manage stress in healthy ways by improving one's work environment and maintaining a healthy body and mind.
First, Dr. Elwork suggests either transforming one's current work environment by developing new policies on workload or leaving it for a...