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The Lawyer's Guide to Balancing Life and Work: Taking the Stress Out of Success Paperback – June 3, 2003
The Lawyers Guide to Balancing Life and Work not only informs us how to recognize burnout, but more importantly, instructs -- Robert C. Josefsberg, President, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
About the Author
George Kaufman is a lawyer and businessperson who has been practicing law as an associate, partner, and counsel for more than thirty-five years. He has recently served as counsel to the national law firm of Arnold & Porter and as president of a consulting firm created by that firm. He has been involved with the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies for more than fifteen years. Omega is the largest retreat and holistic study center in America. George served as a director of Omega for more than five years and as chair for more than three. Since 1994, he has provided programs for lawyers on the subject of balancing personal life and work responsibilities, and has lectured on this subject to bar associations and other groups.
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The author also appears to be writing for lawyers pre-internet, e-mail, and blackberry. For example, he describes how buying a week-end house gave him a place to go and leave the office behind. But for many lawyers today the week runs 24-7. The country house is just a slightly more awkward place to get work done.
The book provides almost nothing in the way of actual advice for lawyers. The last substantive chapter, chapter 11, is where we finally get to the "action plan." But even here we are offered only vague generalities and cute stories about how it is "all up to you." This is sort of like buying a book on woodworking or knitting and, in the last chapter, finding the sage advice "the wood is what you make of it" or "the yarn is very flexible, you can knit it into anything you want" with no instructions, models, guides or other practical advice. In other words, everything in the book is true, but it is not very useful.
Kaufman uses the course of his own career to make his points, and shows the sources of energy and hopefulness to be found in your own career. How we ignore the lessons to be gleaned from our experiences in practice, and how we grow accustomed over time to habits and patterns that gradually open up a conflict between our intimate inner life and our outer professional behavior.
But this is no anti-legal profession screed. The author with wit and wisdom sets forth remedy after remedy, without giving up on the practice, that you can use. How better to allocate your energy among work, family, health, self, and how to delve into ways to bring your life into a more balanced alignment. More than 20 exercises aid your exploration, and help you make an action plan.
Kaufman acknowledges that self-directed change is the hardest to make. But lawyers who wonder why life has lost its savor and are willing to put in the work will not have to wait to have change forced on them by divorce or disease, if they will pick up and use this gem of a book.