Archive for the ‘Michael’s Blog’ Category

Martin County Bar Association

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I just got back from doing a presentation at the Martin County Bar Association and had to write about what pleasant experience it was, and what a great group of lawyers and judges I got to meet. I did my piece on the history and mission of Florida Lawyers Assistance, but I pointed out that I was probably speaking to the wrong group, as just the fact that about 150 legal professionals understood the value of getting out of the office on a beautiful Friday afternoon (and overlooking a gorgeous golf course) and spending some time together interacting with each other as lawyers and as people indicated they “got it”. Unfortunately, it’s the lawyers who “just don’t have the time” to attend functions like this who we get to see at FLA. I’m a huge fan of local county bar associations for several reasons – it’s a great way to network and meet the colleagues you’ll be practicing with, and it’s very hard to be a dickish lawyer in court or at a deposition with someone you’ve seen every month in a casual, friendly social setting and talked about your families and kids’ soccer games.

My presentation was followed by a “speed dating” program where the circuit and appellate judges who were in attendance (and most of them were there) circulated from table to table to meet the lawyers and answer any questions they might have. Could have been chaos, but they pulled it off nicely!

I want to thank the Bar Association officers and staff for inviting me to a really pleasant afternoon, and congratulate them on clearly having one of the most active and cordial bar associations I’ve been to in a while.

Busy Week

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

It’s been a busy, busy week, which is nothing new for this time of year. Our fiscal year ends on June 30th, our annual board of directors meeting is always the last Friday of July, and our annual workshop is always the last weekend of July in Naples. So I’m kind of used to crunch time being the first couple of weeks of the month, when the annual report has to be completed (it’s on this site under the Literature tab), the year-end financials have to be done, newly appointed directors are welcomed, and the last minute workshop registrations and payments have to be processed. The good news is that after next week, things slow down a bit, although this year Dawn and I will be getting ready for her daughter’s wedding in Maine in September and the annual ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs annual conference (of which I’m the Planning Committee chair) in Phoenix in October.

If you haven’t registered for the Naples workshop, there’s still a few days left to do it, or you can show up and register at the door. Full details are available on this site, and it looks like it’s going to be a great program. Details on the CoLAP conference are available at www.abanet.org/legalservices/colap. Hope to see you one place or the other!

Off to Orlando

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

So, heading up to Orlando for the Bar’s annual conference. I sit on the Standing Committee on Professionalism, which has been a real treat for the past three years. Looking around the room at the men and women serving on the Committee and Commission on Professionalism, you get the sense of what the Bar should and could be – dedicated individuals who really want this to be a profession, rather than a trade. Right now, the Commission’s focus is on law schools and hopefully addressing the issues that make us the most stressed, depressed, and addicted profession in the country before they have a chance to really get started. I’ll also get to say hi to people on the bar staff and Board of Governors who strongly support FLA (as well as talk with some who don’t), and thank them for “putting their money where their mouth is”, especially in these tough economic times. More will be revealed……..

The Emotional Fallout of the Economy

Friday, June 12th, 2009

We’ve become accutely aware over the past 6-9 months of the severe emotional impact the current economic situation is having on the legal profession. Calls to FLA from attorneys dealing with stress and depression resulting from financial conditions have spiked significantly during that time period, and our Clinical Director, Dr. Weinstein, is dealing with more serious cases (some suicidal) than any of us can remember. Attorneys facing the loss of a position they’ve held for a number of years, or not being able to find work upon admisssion, or seeing their income drop precipitously actually seem to suffer emotional distress to a greater degree than other members of society, due to the fact we’re supposed to be the “strong” ones who help others and don’t show that kind of weakness. Take a look at this article in Adam Smith, Esq. for information.

What can we do about it (other than hope the downturn comes to an end relatively quickly)? Well, lawyer assistance programs around the country are developing support systems to help legal professionals both emotionally and practically. A number of states, such as Oregon and Washington, have produced multi-day workshops to help lawyers work through difficult financial transitions and learn how to weather the storm. FLA and the Florida Bar Center for Professionalism are developing a similar workshop which will hopefully be presented in November 2009. The ABA has taken a very proactive position on helping members of the profession by preparing and making available a number of practice aides, teleconferences, and materials – links to those ABA resources can be found on this site under the Links tab.

Please feel free to comment on this subject with your own experiences, good or bad. Certainly, suggestions on how to deal with the emotional and economic impact of the current recession will be appreciated, and represent the best of “lawyers helping lawyers”.