What if a law firm were more like a Silicon Valley tech company?
You know, the sort of place with a lot of people in flip-flops, endless buffets, a gym and games. Kind of a luxury spa with the option to do some interesting work when the mood is right.
This may not seem like the most productive way for a law firm to work, but, then again, maybe it is. After all, fewer people are going into law because there are much more fun, and secure, things to do, and traditional lawyers these days are not a happy bunch.
A study published this year in the Journal of Addiction concluded that 36.4 percent of lawyers surveyed had a "score consistent with hazardous drinking or possible alcohol abuse or dependence."
And last week, a British firm called Keystone Law issued a report that said 70 percent of lawyers in the U.K. are more stressed than ever.
OK, the British report is a bit questionable since it was created by a law firm that's recruiting lawyers who want a more laid-back career.
And you could quibble with the Journal of Addiction, since it relies on self-reporting, but that could mean the problem is even worse — lawyers with really serious problems might not want to self-report or even be able to take a survey.
If the addiction issues weren't bad enough, the survey also reported high levels of depression and anxiety.
This is not good. It's bad for lawyers as people, and it can't be good for their clients.
What should be done about this?
One approach is the Silicon Valley/Keystone solution. You can find the Keystone plan at Lawsetfree.com, a website with pictures of a lot of happy-looking people — a lot of them with drinks in their hands. (Check out their slide show).
It may be that the solution is more drinking.
In addition, the concept seems to be providing some backup and coordination for lawyers who can work as much as the feel like working from wherever they feel like working.
You never have to worry about making partner because there don't seem to be any partners.
That may work, but there are other tech-inspired solutions to consider.
For example, what I call Luber or maybe Juber. This is the lawyer or justice version of Uber. Someone should create an app that any lawyer who owns a car can sign up for.
If someone has a legal problem, day or night, they can call for a neighborhood Luber lawyer who can be at their door within minutes to answer questions and draft documents.
Think of all the neighbors living within a few blocks of your house who may never have realized they could hire you. Imagine the convenience of practicing at any time of day and without the expense of a fixed office.
Or perhaps Linder — swipe right if your area of expertise is compatible with a client's needs.
The hybrid law office/saloon is another option for stress reduction. If most of the firm is drinking anyway, why not share it with the clients? You make some extra money from drink sales, and settlement conferences could be a lot more productive.
(I should note here that the drinking problem — a serious issue — could be the explanation for the monstrous lawsuits that go on and on over the simplest things. Drinking and complaint-writing should never mix.)
By the way, I'm not sure whether drinking causes lawyering or lawyering causes drinking, but either way, please get help. I worry about all of you.
If there is no such thing as Attorneys Anonymous, someone please start it.
In the meantime, I also recommend office service dogs. Everyone will be much happier and you can make the new associates clean up the poop.
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