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The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195392326
ISBN-10: 0195392329
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Editorial Reviews


"It's a book that anyone who is--or was--or wants to be--a lawyer (or anyone who knows a lawyer) should read...I'm recommending it to all of my students, and to my friends practicing law, and even to my husband, who prides himself on NOT being a lawyer. --ConcurringOpinions.com

"Well researched, positive, and clearly written, this is an important book for the bar. Essential for lawyers and law students." --Library Journal

"The citing of a poll of American attorneys, in which seven out of ten said that they would choose other careers if they were starting out, might suggest that the law is best avoided. But for those in the profession, solutions are to be found-and they're in The Happy Lawyer. Best to buy it for anyone you think may need it."--The Times

"Solid researchers, the authors provide countless statistics about the state of [lawyers'] happiness and prospects for finding it in the future...With a generation of younger lawyers changing jobs at high rates and the high cost of the turnover, law firms would do well to consider the clearly identifiable factors set forth in this book...How important is it to be happy? If you are curious about the answer or about how to increase the happiness in your life or that of your firm, The Happy Lawyer is a worthwhile read."--The Nebraska Lawyer

"Although law is one of the nation's best paid and most influential occupations, only about half of lawyers report being satisfied with their work. In this insightful and engaging book, Nancy Levit and Douglas Linder explain why. They comprehensively review the growing research on happiness to provide crucial insights about how lawyers can improve the quality of their professional lives. This book should be a required text for every law student, every law firm leader, and every practitioner who wants to find greater fulfillment in a legal career."---Deborah Rhode, Director, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession and author of The Beauty Bias

"In this important, insightful book, Nancy Levit and Douglas Linder have successfully unpacked the mystery of why so many lawyers seem to be living lives of silent desperation. In doing so, they offer many and varied paths to lawyer happiness. The Happy Lawyer's thoughtful analysis and practical prescriptions are a must-read for every lawyer, as well as for anyone considering attending law school."--Greg Castanias, Partner, Jones Day

"This superb work in an invaluable guide for a profession that, sadly, suffers from chronic unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. Like Harold Kushner's Living a Life that Matters and the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, this work offers clear, practical advice that can truly transform a person's life and career."--Robert Klonoff, Dean and Professor of Law, Lewis & Clark Law School

"This new book will become essential reading for law professors advising their students on career paths in this new economy." --Paul M. Secunda, Associate Professor of Law,
Marquette Univ. Law School

About the Author

Nancy Levit, the Curators' and Edward D. Ellison Professor of Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is the author of The Gender Line: Men, Women, and the Law.

Douglas O. Linder is the Elmer N. Powell Peer Professor of Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195392329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195392326
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lawyer and long-time law professor, I've known far too many lawyers and law students suffering from unhappiness and even depression about their career choice. Law professors Nancy Levit and Douglas Linder have come to the rescue with an excellent, eye-opening book about lawyer happiness, jammed with creative ideas, backed by rock-solid research, for helping lawyers map a path toward greater happiness. It turns out that a lot of research has been done about happiness. Levit and Linder assemble it expertly in a highly readable, thought-provoking package. Many of the research findings are surprising. Did you know that graduates of fourth-tier law schools report the highest degree of happiness? That contrary to people's beliefs, income has only a small correlation to happiness? That the older lawyers get, the happier they become with their jobs and careers? Everyone considering law school should read this book before making their final decision. Everyone already in law school should read this book in plotting their career course. Everyone who is already a lawyer should read it to take stock of their careers with a view toward improving their lives. This is an important book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Happy Lawyer does two things very well. It describes, with a clinical precision, some of the predominant reasons that lawyers tend to be less than satisfied with their chosen profession. Secondly, it describes, on a surface level, some aspirations for lawyers and for mid-sized to large firms which might lead to some measurable improvement in the happiness of effected lawyers.

Beyond that, this work is largely without any practical use or application for those of us toiling away in the trenches every day. Of the few suggestions for improvement made here, nothing seems to be unique, new or ground-breaking. Most of the suggestions bandied about are bumper-sticker philosophy references to finding some meaningful work as a lawyer. Most of the issues raised here are the stuff of 1990's era ABA headlines. Even with the 2010 copyright date, this book doesn't really seem to address the issues pertinent to the majority of today's attorneys: crippling student loans, the continuing shrinkage of the job market, the growth industry in ginning up malpractice claims and the day-to-day emotional damage that we see (and absorb) from the clients and client issues that continue to charge at us, almost unabated.

This work might be a good primer for a non-lawyer that is married to, or considering marrying, an attorney. For those of us that don't work in BigLaw and are seeking practical advice, I would look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
As a practicing lawyer, I found this book interesting but a little disconnected. I could never quite tell who the target audience was. The beginning of the book is full of statistical information and information about brain chemistry -- the effects of dopamine, seratonin and oxytocin on happiness,nothing specific to the legal field. Then, the book shifts focus and is directed at law students or prospective law students -- how to choose a law school, the importance of peer groups and faculty, how grads from fourth tier schools are often happier than grads from top schools. Then, parts of the book seem to be directed at practicing lawyers and law firm management.

Although the authors criticize law schools' bias toward large firm placement, the authors, too, seem to focus disproportionately on life in the larger law firms, while encouraging lawyers to follow their passions and choose wisely.

Overall, this is a quick, interesting read, full of data and statistics. I think it would be more useful for a law student or prospective law student than a practicing lawyer.
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Format: Hardcover
I was a happy lawyer. However, I stumbled onto many of the tips and advice found in this well-researched and revealing book. How nice it would have been to have it available as I was preparing for a career or in the early days as a young lawyer. Unfortunately, many new lawyers are not as lucky as I. This book will eliminate the stumbling for those in law school and many more in the spring of their careers.

A great read and essential for those thinkng about a career in law or those who find themselves disenchanted in their present circumstance.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a godsend not only for law students but also for practicing attorneys. Law students can use the advice contained within to structure a job search toward "happy making" jobs; currently practicing attorneys can similarly use the wisdom of this tome to reevaluate the jobs they are in, or even to help those in power positions to make the job environment more amenable to the happiness needs of attorneys present and future.

As a new but not young lawyer, in what I consider a "happy in spite of myself" field (child abuse and neglect law), I appreciate the suggestions for how to make a current job happier; too often it is easy to become bottlenecked in negativity, and to become a part of the negative. The book speaks of pro bono work, and generally work where an attorney feels he or she is making a difference, as important to the happiness spectrum, and that has been my experience, all through law school and now in practice. Somewhere within every lawyer, or most every lawyer, I am convinced there is a do-gooder dying to get out, and that do-good instinct, when fed and groomed and balanced with practical concerns like being paid, is the key to feeling truly good about the work that we do. This book is good at pointing out the myriad ways that an attorney in any field can achieve some "do gooder happy."

Equally important and well-acknowledged here is the need for some work-life balance. This is an often neglected aspect of lawyering; it gets lip service a lot, but it is not often that a book about pursuing a legal career addresses the issue with such honesty. Big firms are not for everyone, and maybe, as the book indicates, happiness in the form of a balanced life is not just a pipedream - perhaps the job share or part-time career is the way to a happy future.
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