THE ADVOCATE 401
VOL. 79 PART 3 MAY 2021
what we as lawyers are supposed to do—help clients resolve problems and
keep the system of justice operating effectively—is jeopardized by having
lawyers operating without a strong sense of internal values and motivation,
instead relying on external input to determine their actions. This leads to dissatisfaction,
distress, burnout and the many invisible disabilities from which
legal professionals suffer at a higher rate than the general population.
Lawrence Krieger and Kennon Sheldon have done extensive research
with lawyers and law students and found that there is a shift towards extrinsic
motivation—that is, to focusing on prestige, money, grades, status and
other goals.1 This has resulted in a loss or lessening of intrinsic motivation—
that is, of purpose, values and things that are meaningful to the individual.
This loss of meaning results in a loss of a sense of well-being. We need to
shift the culture of law to one in which we respect and support each other
and our individual differences. Good lawyers come in all shapes and forms;
there is not a single, stereotypical version of what it is to be a good lawyer.
We need to help each other. In particular, the senior lawyers need to help
the junior lawyers. I learned a lot about the practice of law from senior
lawyers. That is where I learned about practice ethics, including how to
treat other lawyers: we could vigorously represent our clients and at the
end of the day go hang out in the barristers’ room as friends. I learned about
perspective and seeing the bigger picture. I learned from watching more
senior lawyers act honestly and honourably that this is an effective way to
practise. I learned that how we treat people is important, be they clients,
other lawyers, witnesses or judges. I was privileged to see and hear senior
lawyers think creatively and work at solving problems in a way that was satisfying
to everyone including themselves.
It is time for each of us to consider engaging in a mentor/mentee relationship.
It is good for us more senior people to be able to share what we have
learned, it is an excellent way for the junior lawyers to learn and it will contribute
to the sense of collegiality in our profession and the health of individual
practitioners. With social distancing imposed as we deal with COVID-19,
we need to come up with new ways to connect and to mentor. It is time to
be intentional and to be creative. We at LAPBC can help you with this.
1. Lawrence S Krieger with Kennon M Sheldon, “What
Makes Lawyers Happy?: A Data-Driven Prescription
to Redefine Professional Success” (2015) 83:2 Geo
Wash L Rev 554.
The Lawyers Assistance Program is an independent organization of members of the legal community (lawyers, judges
families and support staff). We provide peer support and referral services to help people deal with personal problems,
including alcohol and drug dependence, stress, anxiety and depression. We are volunteers and staff committed to providing
confidential, compassionate and knowledgeable outreach, support and education. We seek to foster collegiality among our
peers and to promote health and well-being in our community. You can reach LAP by telephone at 604-685-2171, toll-free
at 1-888-685-2171 or via the LAP website: <www.lapbc.com>.