I like to think  that for the most part I’m a pretty easy-going guy with a sense of humor, but even I have to admit that this profession, especially for those of us practicing criminal defense, can at times be filled with difficult issues and heart-wrenching life stories.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks for getting my attitude back on the positive track. Not saying I’ve learned the Zen secret of eternal lawyer-happiness, but for what it’s worth, here’s my three cents on the topic.

Five Tips for Being a Happier Lawyer

Tip #1: Get some perspective. A client drops you, a judge snaps at you, you didn’t make partner, you lost a case you poured your heart into…guess what? It happens to every lawyer…well, maybe not Gerry Spence, who’s never lost a criminal case…but it happens to everyone else. So step back and look at the big picture. It’s not just about you, really.

Tip #2: Appreciate the good things in your life. Sometimes a lawyer’s world gets jam-packed with problems and issues and difficult personalities and…you get the picture. Especially at those times, take a moment and remember what’s good in your life. Maybe it’s something your child said to you recently that made you feel ten feet tall, or the special dinner your wife surprised you with, or your dog’s latest crazy antic. I read somewhere that people who express thankfulness feel happier in general.

Tip #3: Stay positive. Not always easy, but sometimes just making yourself think positively can get your attitude back on track. Being positive, or at least detaching yourself from negativity and being more objective, can help you be a better decision maker.

Tip #4: Lighten up. Sometimes all it takes is listening to soothing music, or maybe listening to an old George Carlin record, or watching Bill Murray in Caddyshack, or reading some irreverent lawyer blogs like Bitter Lawyer or Lowering the Bar. I mean, how can you not laugh at articles like “Are Tattoos Replacing Lawyer Business Cards?” or “Legal Dare #1: Use Wingdings in a Letter” (both from Bitter Lawyer).

Tip #5: Shake your money-maker. Or more simply put: Exercise. I stole this one from attorney Erin Curren’s article “Finding Bliss at the Bar: How to Be a Happy Lawyer” which has far more tips and information than I have here, like how not to let depressing statistics about the legal professional get to you (my suggestion is to not read them in the first place), common traits of happy lawyers and more.

Blawg 100 Amici: ABA Journal’s nominations for best legal blogs

If you enjoy my posts, please consider nominating my blog (www.shaunkaufmanlaw.com), or Bitter Lawyer or Lowering the Bar (two of my favorites that I listed in the above article), to the ABA Journal’s nominations for 100 best legal blogs – Submissions are open through August 8: Click here to submit 

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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