Can Lawyers be Happy?

Many lawyers seem to be constantly questioning whether they can be happy as lawyers.   A new book, The Happy Lawyer:  Making a Good Life in the Law takes a comprehensive look at this question and concludes that yes, it is very possible to be a happy lawyer.  Professors Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder do a good job of summarizing existing studies on what makes people happy and the particular situation for lawyers.  They also offer concrete advice to prospective law students, current law students, and current lawyers.  

Professor Levit and Linder restate the disturbing statistics about high depression and substance abuse rates for both lawyers and law students.  They also repeat the more encouraging studies that say that the happier lawyers are those in the public sector, lawyers over fifty, and lawyers who graduated from Tier 4 law schools.  Making more money doesn’t make people happier and the most unhappy lawyers are those working in big firms (who also happen to those making the most money).  The book gives some interesting insights for law students about how to approach their career decisions.  The book also raises some challenging questions for legal educators including questioning why so few law schools teach courses on lawyer satisfaction or happiness. Only six schools in the USA have such a course.  

The book is a good read and I’ve already recommended it to several people I know who just took the bar exam. Yes, it is that well done and accessible that even those suffering from the post-bar-brain-fry should be able to enjoy it.   I also encourage law professors to read this book as I know it has helped me to think about a few things I can and should do differently in my classes this year.

2 thoughts on “Can Lawyers be Happy?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.