Depression and the Legal Profession

Did you know that students entering law school have same rate of depression as the general population (approximately 7%), but by the time they finish their first year of law school 34% experience depression? This statistic is from a new book from the ABA, The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression.

I’m no Depressionexpert, but that statistic indicates something is wrong. It is well documented that lawyers suffer from depression and problems related to stress and depression at rates greater than the general public.

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Stephen Ilardi, Why Personal Tech Is Depressing, noted that the U.S. is the most technologically developed country and the most depressed. Three in 10 Americans will battle depressive illness in their lifetimes, an estimated ten-fold increase since WWII. Today’s personal technology can be quite isolating, notes Dr. Ilardi. I don’t have access to the full WSJ article, but here is a blog post about the article containing some of its suggestions.

The Economist just published a feature Teenagers are Growing More Anxious and Depressed – Could they hold the culprit in their hands? Lawyers are not teenagers, but many seem just as attached to their smart phones. Many, if not most, lawyers have had the experience of being in a really good mood–until they check their email with their smart phone and find one of those emails.

I do think there is something to smart phones and social media having a negative impact on the lives of frequent users. Each of us might wonder just how many opportunities we have missed out on while buried in our phones. Maybe it was not seeing an old law school chum in the courthouse hallway or wasting just enough time on the phone that you decided not to go out and participate in some activity.

I recently heard Brian Cuban, author of The Addicted Lawyer, tell his story at the OBA Annual meeting. His presentation was interesting and compelling. I have not yet read his book, but I am certain it is fascinating and helpful.

It is the holiday season and it is good to remember that many people struggle with negative emotions during the holiday season and almost everyone will experience some holiday stress. Knowing others deal with similar issues can bring some comfort. But lawyers are very independent and sometimes do not ask for help when they need it for fear it could be seen as  sign of weakness. Most bar associations and law societies have lawyer assistance programs available to help. So this holiday season, try to spend less time staring at the phone in your hand and more time interacting in person with others. And, if you need help, or know someone who may need help, don’t hesitate to reach out. That could be the best gift you can give a loved one, a friend, a colleague  or yourself.

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Depression and the Legal Profession

Podcast: The Apple Product Cheat Sheet for Lawyers

In this episodeofThe Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and I talk to Brett Burney about the latest Apple products and how they can serve lawyers. Our podcast is titled The Apple ProductCheat Sheet for Lawyers and if you are unsure as to what iOS apps or other Apple products, you should be using in your law practice, this podcast is for you. Brett Burney

Many of you already know of Brett Burney from his Apps in Law site which hosts podcasts, video and tips. Brett focuses his attention on which Apple tools will save lawyers time and effort in their business. We discussed topics ranging from Face ID to iOS 11. We also discuss the top apps that attorneys who use Apple products should download and use.

This is a high quality podcast, even if I do say so myself, because Brett just loves talking about apps and other Apple products for lawyers. His enthusiasm is contagious.

This podcast will get you excited about trying some new apps and we have links to the products mentioned during the podcast on the podcast home page. After you finish with the podcast, visit Brett’s site and review his “Best Apps in Law” page. It is like Brett’s own personal version of an awards show.

Podcast: The Apple Product Cheat Sheet for Lawyers

Fear Artificial Intelligence, or Not?

For an interesting juxtaposition of opinions about AI and the future of law, here are a couple of items to review.

Bob Ambrogi’s piece in Above the Law is titled Fear Not, Lawyers, AI Is Not Your Enemy and even has a subtitle of “The dirty little secret of AI is that it can make us even better lawyers than we are without it.”

Bob writes reassuring things like, “Here’s the thing: AI in the legal profession is not a rogue robot storming the halls of justice. It is not a sentient machine out to destroy humans or even lawyers. It is not even plotting to take away our jobs.” and “AI is a tool. A tool that we control. It is a tool that can make us more effective and efficient at what we do. It is a tool that can help us deliver our services more quickly and at lower cost.”

He concludes, “AI is not a battleground. It is fertile ground. It is not lawyers vs. robots. It is lawyers plus AI.”

I respect and trust Bob Ambrogi.

But in last week’s Wall Street Journal, there’s a different message. This Robot Will Handle Your Divorce Free of Charge details the plans of Joshua Browder, the inventor of the Do Not Pay chatbot, that according to the article, assisted 400,000 people save a total of $11 million in parking fines. The WSJ article quotes him. I think people get caught up in trying to make money, says Browder, 19. I’m just trying to make the law free for everyone. He promulgates often-repeated falsehoods, like uncontested divorces costing up to $10,000. The new service will launch in February and purports to generate all the documents necessary to file for and obtain a divorce. He says, “All you need is to get your partner to sign.”

I’m trying to replace all these lawyers charging hundreds of dollars just to copy and paste, he is quoted in the article as saying.

As with many so-called experts who actually know very little about their subject matter, he probably doesn’t appreciate that many of those partners who “just sign” are not in an emotional state to make profound decisions that will impact their lives and their children’s lives for years or the expenses and unintended consequences that flow from omitting assets or debts from divorce papers. Since he is not a lawyer, he has surely not dealt with the challenges of QUADROs being rejected by employers or real estate titles hopelessly snarled because of bad legal descriptions.

My personal opinion is that sometimes a marriage of short duration that produced no children, assets or debts can be done rather simply without great expense. Some online services purport to do this and Oklahoma lawyers will do so for their clients, too, including those who provide limited scope services. As oil field firefighter Red Adair famously said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

I don’t disagree with Bob Ambrogi’s observations, but I think it is also clear that good AI tools will be based on facts and needs, not popular misconceptions about the law or vindictiveness.

Fear Artificial Intelligence, or Not?

What a Disaster! (And what to do to help you survive a disaster)

The year 2017 has been an extraordinary year for hurricanes impacting the U.S. and the Caribbean. It is heartbreaking to see pictures and videos of the destruction and devastation. Recovery will take many years for some of these areas and many families have lost photo albums and prized possessions that cannot be replaced. The number of wildfires in the western part of the U.S. this year has been staggering as well.

Given the huge number of disasters we have seen this year, surely no law firm is without a disaster plan now? Right? Right?Disaster plan

I could feel the silence in response to that, even over the Internet.

If your planning is not adequate, start your planning by reading my column from the Oklahoma Bar Journal, What a Disaster!Hopefully this will give you a good outline from which to begin.

The ABA Law Practice Division has asked Sharon Nelson and me to spearhead efforts on providing more information to lawyers about preparing for and recovering from disasters. One part of that will be an ABA-sponsored webinar on Preparing For and Recovering From Disasters: What Lawyers Need to Know on November 21, 2017. You can enroll and also find out more information at the webinar page. The webinar is not free, but reading my column on the subject is absolutely free.

What a Disaster! (And what to do to help you survive a disaster)

Naked and Afraid in the Digital Age: Survival of the Fittest

I didn’t suggest the title. Naked and Afraid in the Digital Age: Survival of the Fittest was dreamed up by my Executive Director and some of our creative OBA officers. But I did get to suggest a lot of the content. It embraces some scary, but very useful information for those in our profession. Naked and Afraid

There is still time for Oklahoma Bar Association members to register for this program presented in Tulsa November 1 in conjunction with our OBA Annual Meeting. Registration for the OBA Annual Meeting is not necessary to register for this continuing legal education program. You can register for just the CLE program or for the entire Annual Meeting. Register here. There are other options to attend in this multitrack program. So check out the other great CLE programs offered that day.

But for those readers in other jurisdictions who may not be able to attend, I thought I’d share our programming lineup. Don’t be afraid. Just become more engaged and how law practice is evolving and how these changes can impact your law practice.

Naked and Afraid in the Digital Age: Survival of the Fittest

From Limited Scope Services to Artificial Intelligence: Cutting Edge Trends Important to the Practice of Law Jim Calloway, Director of OBA Management Assistance Program

Everything You Need to Know About Time, Billing and Accounting Software with Britt Lorish, Affinity Consulting

Utilizing Client Portals for Increased Security and Better Client Service with Darla Jackson, OBA Practice Management Advisor

The IRS Audit Manual for Law Firms What You Must Know to Survive with Britt Lorish, Affinity Consulting

Don’t Be Afraid: How You and Your Practice Will Benefit from Digital Client Files with Darla Jackson and Jim Calloway

Like It or Not Automated Document Assembly Is in Your Future with Jim Calloway

On Thursday morning November 2nd, there are no fearful topics.

Life. Law. Love. Earn More, Stress Less & Be Awesome will be the topic of Nora Riva Bergman, Attorney Coach and Author of the book, 50 Lessons for Lawyers: Earn More. Stress Less. Be Awesome. I’ve heard Nora speak before at ABA TECHSHOW and this will be an entertaining and valuable presentation.

I’ll be following that up with a program that should be of interest to all lawyers, Marketing Your Practice in a Digital Age. As always there is some great CLE at the OBA Annual Meeting.

Naked and Afraid in the Digital Age: Survival of the Fittest

Celebrating the 200th Episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report

Keeping a podcast going for 11 years is quite the accomplishment, particularly for lawyers. The Internet is littered with lawyer blogs and podcasts that start strong, fade after a few months and are dead within a year.

But as regular listeners know, the Kennedy-Mighell Report is a consistently entertaining and informative production. (I should note a significant personal bias as the co-hosts are both long-term friends of mine.)

For the 200th episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis and Tom answer technology related questions from listeners (including yours truly). They provide a lot of great information, including about some of their favorite products. Regular listeners of the podcast already know of Tom’s interest in finding the best Bluetooth speaker of all. I noted his current recommendation. This is a very interesting podcast, although at over 47 minutes in length you need to set aside some time to take in it all.

Congratulations to Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell on a long podcasting run and another great podcast. We will expect even more from episode 201.

200th Kennedy Mighell Report

Celebrating the 200th Episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report

Two Things Your Law Firm Should Be Producing: Great Solutions and Happy Clients

If there is a single sentence summing up what every law firm of any size should be focusing on today, I’ll nominate this one. A law firm today should be in the business of producing great solutions and happy clients.

Happy Lawyer Happy ClientMost new clients don’t really want legal services. They need legal services. What they want is often a resolution of a problem. Sometimes they want to avoid a problem in the future. Sometimes they want advice and paperwork relating to something they are planning. However, the majority of legal work is the result of someone having a problem and hiring a lawyer to find, create or negotiate a solution to that problem.

Your attention is directed to my column from the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Great Solutions and Happy Clients. There are many strategies to improve client satisfaction. I cover a few of them.

The more you appreciate that the client wants a solution to their problem rather than legal services, the better you can design your legal services delivery processes to incorporate communication with clients focusing on how you are reaching their solution and the better you can design your marketing efforts to attract new clients.

Two Things Your Law Firm Should Be Producing: Great Solutions and Happy Clients