Balancing the Bar

Happiness and the Practice of Law

Workaholism is sometimes okay?????

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During a break in my day, I ran across and interesting article in the LA Times. The title of the article caught my eye – Workaholism: Maybe not such a Bad Thing.  So, as my interest is always peaked by such ludicrous notions, I read with curiosity the article about an attorney in California who described her work week as 70 to 80 hours a week and describes her need to work this much as “a fire that fuels itself”. Of course this attorney does not like workaholic moniker.  She discribes herself as “zealous worker”. 

As an attorney, I am not surprised that the work practices of an atorney were cited as an example “engaged workaholism”.  Attorneys are some of the hardsest working people I know.   Yet, the LA Times article highlighted a worker’s compensation attorney whose life is monopolized by for her law career.  Althought, she does find time for three weekly work outs, walking her dogs twice daily and of course one night out with friends a week.   

The surprising thing to me is that she “likes” her job. The vast majority of legal professionals I know do not like their jobs. In fact, the legal profession has a rate of depression that is 2 times the national average (22%) and an anxiety disorder rate of 3 times the national average (28%). Is there any wonder? How can anyone consistently work 70+ hours a week and avoid burnout.

Finally, while I do not question the attorney’s work ethic, I question the value of an article that is premised on the idea that more is better and that uses the legal profession as an illustration. Perhaps some research and an article on lawyer burnout, anxiety and depression should be a follow up article. In my experience too much work is not good for you.  You see it all the time in our profession the attorney who comes in at 7 am leaves at 7 pm and works every Saturday and worse yet expects all the associates to be right there with him or her.  Is there any wonder that mental health issues are now more prevalent than substance abuse.  Let’s face it workaholism is not good for your health whether you are engaged while doing it or not is irrelevant.  The article, however, was definitely food for thought.


Author: Tabitha M. Hochscheid

Attorney since 1995, interested in Attorney Health and Well Being and related issues for lawyers and the general population. Developer and Committee Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association Health and Well Being Committee.

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