This article was originally published in The Barrister, the official monthly publication of the Camden County Bar Association for which DeMichele & DeMichele attorney MATT ROONEY serves as Young Lawyer Trustee.
By Matt Rooney
2014 was certainly a year to remember (except for my fellow suffering Phillies fans who are eager to block it out of their collective memory). All the same, the best part about a new year is that it always holds unlimited potential for our individual lives, personal and professional, regardless of how the previous year ended up. It’s a fresh start. A new lease on life. You get the idea. But a year is more than the sum of 365 days; it’s no more or less than what we make of it.
So what’s your plan?
Many young lawyers will spend almost all of it at their desks. Please don’t interpret that statement as a negative judgment; I’m simply conveying the facts: a 2012 study by the National Association for Law Placement found a strong majority (60.8%) of associates at Americans law firms billing 2,000 or more hours on an annual basis. That’s almost 40 hours per week! And as anyone who has ever billed hours for a living knows all too well, that could translate to 60 or more actual hours in the office depending on the project (and number of interruptions, including non-billable obligations).
Maybe it’s no surprise that lawyers aren’t exactly a happy lot?
And sometimes what starts as general dissatisfaction can take a very serious turn. Each of us has seen the studies reporting that lawyers rank right up there with dentists and air traffic controllers as being among the most depressed professionals in America. In fact, attorney depression is such a prevalent and pervasive problem that eight states – California, Montana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina – now include some level of instruction on mental health issues in their respective legal continuing education curriculums.
I’m not a therapist and therefore find myself ill-equipped to help an unhappy attorney, let alone a clinically-depressed one.
What can I say of value? From my personal experience as a practitioner? Again, a new year is largely a matter of what you make it. There’s no escaping the rigors of a busy and competitive profession if your goal is to succeed in the profession. Balance, I think, is the single biggest key to unlocking a happy and fulfilling career. Balance also happens to be one of the many incidental benefits of membership with the Young Lawyers Committee of the Camden County Bar Association.
Next up? Our YLC monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 6th at Bar Headquarters in Cherry Hill, a sponsored happy hour on January 14th (details coming shortly) and our second annual Chili Cook-Off on February 7th (stay tuned!). Make your New Year’s resolution now: join our Camden County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Committee today! For more information, go ahead and contact me at email@example.com, find us on Facebook (facebook.com/camdencountyyounglawyers), and follow us on Twitter via our handle: @CCYoungLawyers.