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Customer Review

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep your work (not just in law) from killing your spirit., August 18, 1999
This review is from: Transforming Practices : Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life (Hardcover)
There was a joke a few years back about a Russian banker. The devil appeared and told him he could have control over one of the largest banks in the country. All he would have to do was sign over his, his wife's, and their children's souls for all eternity. The banker hesitated, thought for a moment and finally looked at the impatient demon "I don't get it," he said quizzically "what's the catch?" Too many Americans think of lawyers as (sorry!) soulmates to this mythical banker and too many lawyers act and live in ways that justify this belief. Part of this comes with the territory: we ask lawyers to do unpleasant things for us, be greedy and unreasonable for us in business and matrimonial disputes, help us hide from the consequences of our actions in criminal cases, and sometimes stretch the envelope in getting us what we feel we are owed in any number of types of claims. We judge lawyers by how well they do these things and then (depending which side of the dispute we were on) salve our consciences or get even by disdaining them for doing what we want them to do. Lawyers, like many other people, fall easily into their ascribed roles. Many of them revel in how unscrupulous they are, how cleverly they helped miscreants escape, etc. And, of course, many of these personality traits have appeared in people running legal organizations: greed, amorality, lack of connection with the human consequences of their actions. Is this only in law? I don't think so. Steven Keeva's book brings light into this dark and shadowy place. He shows some lawyers who are opting out of this world of mindless, soulless predation and are finding ways to allow their work to nurture, rather than prey upon, their souls. His book is a treasury of insights, stories, and techniques, designed to keep the best people (the ones who want to know what they are doing and who care about what it means) in law and to connect the best of what all people in law have to offer with the work that lawyers do. Along the way, he offers insights into how lawyers can transform themselves and their practices in ways that will benefit themselves and their clients and some glimpses into the larger movement in American life that is seeking to bring meaning and satisfaction into our lives at work (the anti-Dilbert movement). If every lawyer in America read this book carefully, perhaps the high rate of job dissatisfaction in this profession would change. Certainly the legal world would be a better place. There is much to read and ponder here for workers in all fields in which human lives and values are at stake. Here is a way to build a bridge back from alienation to meaning and joy. I hope people read it and find the courage to act on its wonderful message. I guess it means something that I've written this much and said nothing about the book's writing and organization. That's what reading it was like. The technical sides of the book were so unobtrusively excellent that all I focused on was the message. I don't know higher praise for a book.
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