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What the practice of law can teach us about balance

Written by Pat Sullivan

Look underneath the hood at the practice of law and you'll find some surprising lessons to balance your life.

Hold the lawyer jokes. Consider instead that law, like all honest professions, has a spiritual core. By practicing some of the best legal habits, you can deepen your spiritual life at home and at work.

The best-known positive aspect of law is the process of creating and restoring justice. Law can also develop habits of offering enemies and friends the same rights, of creating agreements to strengthen relationships and developing the same kind of attentiveness that is necessary for most spiritual practices.


 Advice

Healing from Adultery
Law offers many practices that you can adapt to your spiritual life.
The practice of law requires a habit of order and willingness to search beyond emotions or personal preference for the truth.
One important lesson from lawyers is to give every task your best effort even when you can get away with less.
Treat all your tasks as an expression of yourself. Do them as conscientiously as possible.
Don't assume, the basic rule of law, also applies to your life and work. Investigate life from many perspectives and remain open to surprise.  
 
The first rule of law is, "Never assume." This principle reminds us that what we see before us at any moment is not necessarily the whole story. There are more layers of meaning and more perspectives than can be immediately perceived.


Working for lawyers requires order and a search for truth. Being creative and living a spiritual life also require order and a search for truth. Law teaches an orderly process of truth searching that goes beyond emotions and personal preference.


"The habit of sorting what's important vs. what's unimportant makes it possible to lead a balanced life," says Rebecca Eisen, a senior partner with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP. "A lot of the things that cause the most noise are the least important."


Eisen, an employee-law specialist, says, "People work because they derive something from it. It's joy when things fall into place neatly, when the work goes out the door and you know you've done the best you can."
 
 
Nancy Siegel, executive director of Lillick & Charles LLP, remarks that the quest for excellence that is required in law is also a good spiritual practice. Perfectionism, she warns, is very different from excellence.
 
"Perfectionism comes out of a fear of failure," Siegel says. "When you think something has to be perfect, you keep worrying over it. You become risk-averse and closed to new ideas."Excellence, however, is joyful. Something that is truly excellent emerges from a combination of creative thought and very careful attention to details."

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Photographer: John Hix

 

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