Clio’s blog published this article advising attorneys to stay off their mobile phones for the sake of mental health. It includes:

Sometimes working outside of business hours is necessary—there may be a transaction heating up or a trial to prepare for. Intermittent days of long hours are often required, but when this becomes business as usual, something needs to change.

Tony Swartz founder of the The Energy Project writes:

“The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become.”

As you can see, this has a negative effect on performance. It doesn’t just feel bad to work all the time, quality of work and mental output suffers, too.

If you’re constantly checking and responding to emails on your phone while at home, or out with friends and family, then maybe it’s time to take action to secure time for yourself that isn’t about your clients and legal practice.

The article goes on to offer advice for how to stay off your phone.

My Take:

For lawyers, the phone isn’t the problem. It’s the job.

You know who can’t stay off their phones? Grandmothers. Go to a kid’s sporting event and you’ll see numerous grandmas who are there to watch their grandchild glued to their phone to catch every Facebook notification.

Some of the kids’ moms aren’t doing that. They are shopping on their cell phones instead. Dads aren’t any better. Grandads are. They prefer bothering the people around them who would rather focus on their phone.

I don’t believe attorneys are more glued to their phones than society at large.

I agree the constant connectivity phones provide increase anxiety because bad news can arrive at anytime with ECF filing. But without mobile phones, we’d sit at our desks until 5:00 p.m. every day instead of going and doing something else. If someone is going to throw a hand grenade in my foxhole at 4:00 p.m., I might as well be at the gym or walking my dog. On the whole, mobile phones make practicing law better–not worse.

The problem is the job. I’ve been thinking and writing about attorney mental health for a while. For litigators in particular, it’s not a healthy way to make a living. Back in the day it could be fun. But I don’t know anyone having fun practicing law anymore.

One of the main reasons is that to do your best work, you need to think about it all the time. That’s unhealthy. And there is no solution short of moving out of litigation. Which is not an option for many of us.

  • Macy Hanson

    I just want to comment that this was an excellent post and that I agree with you. And do not expect law school admissions departments to sober up prospective applicants on the life of practicing law. They want the applicants. I, personally, love litigation and am addicted to it. But I might burn out before long; because you cannot be a successful, non-obsessive litigator, especially on the plaintiffs’ side. Too many big firm lawyers picking apart every move you make and every word you type or speak.

    Thank you for this post, Phillip. Your comments on the pros and cons of individual arbitrations was also quite good. I have a class vs. non-class arbitration battle brewing at this exact moment in a student loan consumer fraud case in federal court out of state. I’ll keep you posted on that on the appropriate thread.

    The biggest pro of arbitration is that the costs of it, including arbitrator fees, are borne by the corporate defendant. Consumers/employees only pay the filing fee, usually $200 or $400. But you do not get the class claims. So, it is time intensive. And you often run out of claimants/money for pay the filing fees (filing more than 20 individual arbitrations gets unreasonably expensive).