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Law & The Good Life 2021 - 6 CLE / 6 E

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Law & The Good Life

6 CLE / 6 E

The question of what it means to live a good life is as old as Moses and Socrates. But in the last few years, the question has become of particular interest to the legal profession for the simple reason that, by many measures, the lives of many lawyers fall so short of the ideal. Problem drinking, depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicide – all occur at much higher levels among lawyers than among the general public, and for many, these are just the most obvious symptoms of deeper, more fundamental problems. In response, the American Bar Association has endorsed efforts to improve the profession through a new body of thought that attempts to use the methods of science to understand what it means to live well. The result has been the “lawyer well-being movement”, which advocates for changes in the profession to enable lawyers to enjoy well-being. With its focus on science, however, the lawyer well-being movement forgets at times the legal profession’s traditional understandings of what it means for a lawyer to live a good life. Vestiges of these traditions can be found in the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern the profession today. What are those traditions? How do they relate to the science of well-being? How can a lawyer live a good life today?



Introduction – Lawyer Well-Being and A Good Life In The Law

In 2018, the American Bar Association recognized that something was wrong with the legal profession and endorsed the lawyer well-being movement as a solution. Relying upon research in the social sciences concerning well-being in the general population, the movement defines lawyer well-being as a continuous process in which lawyers strive for thriving in six dimensions of their lives: intellectual, spiritual, physical, social, emotional and occupational. Some of the teachings of this process of formation are evident in the Rules of Professional Conduct. These teachings can offer guidance for what it means for a lawyer to live a good life today.

Note: In addition to a review of the concept of lawyer well-being, the introduction will cover the Oath of Attorneys set forth in Rule 22 of the Indiana Rules for Admission to the Bar and Discipline of Attorneys and Section 33-43-1-3 of the Indiana Code; Hoffman’s Rules, a precursor to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct; and Rule 1.15 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Healthy Lawyer – Part 1 – Emotional Health

It is difficult or impossible for lawyers to function effectively if they are depressed, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or simply burned out from over work, lack of connection with clients and colleagues, or a diminished sense of effectiveness. What practical approaches can lawyers adopt to achieve such ends?

Note: This presentation will include a discussion of Rule 12 of Rules for Admission to the Bar, which specifies that evidence of mental or emotional instability or evidence of drug or alcohol dependency may be considered in determining good moral character and fitness to practice law.

The Law as Occupation

The law has always been recognized as an occupation, that is, a way to make a living. But according to the traditional ideals of the profession, a lawyer’s primary purpose was to serve his community and nation. Earning money was said to be only incidental. For many today, it would be difficult to assert this ideal with a straight face. The law is a $850 billion dollar global industry in which law firms tout their profitability, and performing services without compensation is the primary indicator that a lawyer is serving society. What is the role of money and the competition of the marketplace in the good life of a lawyer?

Note: This presentation will include discussion of Rules 1.5(a), 6.1, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct as well as concepts of professionalism and the ABA’s historical role in promoting the profitability of providing legal services.

The Spiritual Lawyer

The practice of law is not merely a technical endeavor. It also raises questions about purpose in work and life, human relationships and community, and the pursuit of human flourishing. It raises questions about the truth. What can lawyers do to avoid lapsing into cynicism and develop a sense of calling to serve a larger purpose, develop better relationships, and contribute to the lives of others?

Note: This presentation will include a discussion of Rules 21 and 22 of Rules for Admission to the Bar, which specify that applicants take a solemn oath prior to their admission to the Bar, which concludes with the phrase, “So help me God.”

The Intellectual Lawyer

In a famous address, Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Happiness, I am sure from having known many successful men, cannot be won simply by being counsel for great corporations and having [a high income]. An intellect great enough to win the prize needs other food besides success.” According to Holmes, this “better food” could be summarized in one word -- jurisprudence – what Holmes called “the remoter and more general aspects of the law.” By studying this, he contended, “you not only become a great master of your calling but connect your subject with the universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable process, a hint of the universal law.”What in the world was Holmes talking about? Why would a lawyer want to know something about the law that is not of use to her clients?

Note: In addition to Holmes’ address, “The Path of the Law,” this presentation will include discussion of paragraph (3) and Rules 1.1 and 6.1 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct and Section 3 of Rule 29 of the Indiana Rules for Admission to the Bar.)

The Healthy Lawyer– Part 2 – Physical Health

Recent research has revealed a number of domains that contribute to physical health, which not only reduce the risk of premature mortality and extend life but also promote greater health and vitality. This session will review the latest findings in each of these areas, including weight control, healthy diet, exercise, and techniques for controlling stress, outlining disease-preventing and health-building habits that lawyers can cultivate at work and home.

Note: This presentation will include a discussion of Rule 12 of Rules for Admission to the Bar, which specifies that applicants must possess the necessary fitness to practice law, including physical fitness, and Rule 1.16, which states that a lawyer shall not represent a client if a physical condition impairs the lawyer’s ability to do so.

The Lawyer in Society

According to a 2018 survey, the practice of law is the loneliest of occupations, with lawyers agreeing at the highest rates with statements like “I have nobody to talk to,” “I feel left out,” and “It is difficult for me to make friends.” The Rules of Professional Conduct limit the nature of the relationship a lawyer can have with a client and suggest the kind of relationship a lawyer should have with others inside and outside the profession. How might these rules and other traditions of the profession affect the nature of a lawyer’s relationships with clients, other lawyers and those outside the law who can ameliorate the pain of loneliness?

Note: This presentation will include discussion of paragraphs (7) and (12) of the Preamble, Paragraph 16 of the Scope, Rules 1.7, 1.8(a), 1.8(c), 1.8(e), 1.8(j) and 8.3(a) of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Redeemed Lawyer – A Personal Testimony

A personal testimony by a lawyer who has successfully dealt with the challenges of substance abuse or depression and how they found their road to recovery.

The Haunted Lawyer

Lawyers today are haunted. A modern, scientific approach to law has separated lawyers from the traditions that connect them with enduring ideals. A more balanced approach is needed to sustain American practices and institutions and recognize the significance and satisfactions of being a member of the legal profession.

Note: This presentation will include discussion of Rule 6.1 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.



Samuel R. Ardery

Bunger & Robertson, Bloomington

Dr. Richard Gunderman, M.D., Ph.D

Chancellor's Professor, IU, Indianapolis

J. Mark Mutz

Mosaic Consulting, LLC, Indianapolis

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN • Premier Indiana CLE


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