Balancing the Bar

Happiness and the Practice of Law

Just like Kudzu… it grows faster than you can imagine.

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Have you ever seen Kudzu growing on the side of a hill?  I grew up in the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky and you know Kudzu, a vine of asian origin, is amazing it grows, grows and covers mountains and whatever is in its way.  I haven’t thought about kudzu in forever but yesterday it came to mind.

You see, this time last year I had a great idea.  I was going to meet with the CBA and develop a program to help attorneys in trouble.  It was a simple idea and my goals were very basic.  Get the information out there, educate others about the issues and keep lawyers from self destructing.  It was a no brainer and an unspoken truth – lawyers are unhappy people.  Many people acknowledge this fact, but no one had ever taken the next step to do anything about the issue.

So, what started out as a simple idea just keeps growing, growing and now has momentum all its own.  You guessed it, just like Kudzu.  Now, the issue is what should be done and when.  Do we just provide information and articles, do we set up a support group or groups for lawyers now or wait and what about law students?  Dealing with so many competing things and so many personalities is like herding cats as a colleague and friend told me recently.   Perhaps, the idea was good, but requires some rethinking or at least an organizational structure.  After all, having the idea is the first step in creating something, what comes after that is work.

My main issue is inclusion, for others it is to find the solution.  I want to give people a way to reach their own resolution and for the to be feel safe sharing what has happened in their life.  Others don’t seem to be interested in this and just want to develop a  “fix” to the problem.   You know lets all live a balanced life.  How do you the two types of solutions/actions.  Is it enough that a person’s your heart and ideals are in the right place even if their fixer mentality means that they wish t0 dictate solutions to people.  And what about the fact that the solution based approach ignores the human suffering that is behind the issue.  Saying you don’t want to hear someone’s problems is not acceptable.     There must be room at the table for those who have suffered from depression, stress induced mental and physical illness.  Isn’t this the purpose of the project?

Yesterday, I found myself defending the rights of others to tell their story and the need to have those stories be a part of the solution.  The fixers among us fail to see the value in this and frankly, don’t feel it is worth their time to hear.    I can’t seem to shake my frustration and anger at the idea that members of a group devoted to Health and Well-being can’t see the value in first hand accounts about the downside of practicing law.  So, what to do?  Create a place for those who wish to share – a support group?  Is it our job as a committee to create programing and that’s it?  Who are we to say what the solution is?  Isn’t that a personal thing for each person to find on their own.

I am not sure what the answer is, but I can tell you there must always be room for those who want to share their struggle and who want to be a part of the process of finding a solution.  Neither the Committee as a whole or any one of its members has the solution to these issues/problems.  There is no quick fix.  The lack of a quick fix is what this is about.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to have a balanced life.  If their were, then life would come with a check list and we all know that is not how life works. As much as we like to think that we can control our life, we can’t.   The point is to lead people in the right direction and support them along the way.  Who better to help with this process than those who have been through it who have struggled with illness and come out on the other side.


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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