Attorney Happiness and Freelance Practice

A Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers suffer a depression rate 3.6 times higher than the rate of employed persons generally.  This should prompt all attorneys to ask themselves: “Are you happy?”  To find some answers, a 2014 study entitled “What Makes Lawyers Happy?” used theory-driven empirical research to find out who is happy in the legal profession and why. The study, conducted by a professor at the Florida State University College of Law, polled thousands of lawyers in four states, each representing a different geographical region of the United States. The Florida study authors remind us that “happiness is a prime human motivator,” one that pushes many people to enroll in law school in the first place.  Yet the study finds that law school students report increasing anxiety and depression before graduating into a profession with high rates of depression and substance abuse. Among the most important factors predicting happiness in an attorney was competence.  Happy attorneys felt that they were competent in conducting their work.  In addition, work-life balance had a strong correlation to attorney well-being.  In fact, vacations and exercise correlated to well-being as much as or more than salary. Perhaps high levels of attorney depression and substance abuse relate to the demands of the traditional law firm business model.    Volume is important to a profitable law firm.  High volume gives an attorney less time to allocate to each case, task, and document.  Meanwhile, clients demand and deserve effective representation at an efficient cost, making it impractical to hire extraneous support staff and salaried associates to handle volume. Thoroughness and preparation speak to competence as much as knowledge.  Freelance attorneys help busy attorneys do thorough work.  Thereby, freelance attorneys can empower you to feel competent in your work.  This feeling of competence can contribute to your happiness.  It can also simply give you the time...

Introducing Esmond Kim

In September 2014, after seven years of practice, I started my own law firm, E.Y.K. LAW, L.L.C., where I practice consumer bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13), probate, and estate planning.  I could not be more excited to work for myself because I want to do outstanding legal work for my clients.  I am also interested in working as a freelance attorney, because I want to help other busy attorneys achieve high standards for their legal work and for their practices. In 2007, I graduated from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts.  Boston was a great city to live in for law school, but my family was living in the Twin Cities in 2007, so I moved to St. Paul.  I passed the 2007 July bar, and I was thrilled to become a licensed Minnesota attorney. For my first year of practice I worked as a contract attorney with the General Litigation group at Faegre and Benson, assisting associates and partners on litigation projects for large toxic tort and environmental cases.  I managed electronically stored information, drafted discovery, helped prepare witnesses for depositions, and performed legal research.  When my contract position ended, I took a position as a staff attorney at Thomson Reuters (formerly West Publishing) that allowed me to further develop my research skills. I had always wanted to work as a law firm associate, but those positions were hard to come by in the Great Recession.  So I took and passed the February 2011 Wisconsin bar, and was offered an associate position at a successful general practice and business law firm in western Wisconsin: Kostner, Koslo & Brovold, L.L.C.   Some days, I handled family law and divorces.  Other days I planned estates and guided clients through probate.  The firm also worked on business matters for a large, locally based furniture company and other local banks and businesses.  While...

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