The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

50 Lessons for Happy Lawyers

By Nora Riva Bergman and Chelsy A. Castro Book Reviews

Image of 50 Lessons for Happy LawyersAttorneys Nora Riva Bergman and Chelsy A. Castro provide a framework for lawyers to follow in pursuing happiness in their latest book, 50 Lessons for Happy Lawyers. The book is timely, given the increased stress and frustration within the legal profession. The authors discuss the “over-training syndrome” and compare this to lawyers who daily deal with “fatigue, depression, poor sleep, feeling more tired at the office and out of the office; burnout; and a lack of interest in things they used to enjoy.” Couple this with the constant connection to emails, texts, and mobile phones. Simply put, lawyers do not get enough downtime.

The authors begin with the recommendation to take care of “YOU.” If considering whether to take the time to read the book, ask yourself when you last took care of yourself.

The authors draw from a library of self-help books and other resources. For some, this may seem more of a review, but if the reader is interested in diving deeper into a particular lesson, they can use the references. If not, the overview provides enough basic information to take the recommended steps in each lesson.

As lawyers, we are all under stress. At times, the stress can seem overwhelming, but the authors suggest it does not have to be, and that is a better way — the framework outlined within their 50 lessons. In quoting from the book, “change is possible,” “change is challenging,” and change “starts with you.” The authors note lasting positivity can come from minor changes in our daily routines. It may not be necessary to make a dramatic change, but simple, small changes outlined within the 50 lessons. Applying tips from the 50 lessons is a start.

I started with skepticism about the 50-lesson framework and its application to the legal profession. That said, when reading the book, I saw how several lessons could be beneficial. The different aspects of the framework may have different effects at different times.

In the final lesson, the authors remind the reader that we have the power to act and can begin by experimenting with the lessons in this book. Even if not applying all 50 lessons over a long time, applying one lesson at one circumstance may reduce stress and increase happiness.

In sum, 50 lessons is a light and easy read packed with ideas and resources. The suggestions may not be new, but Bergman and Castro shape and apply them to the legal profession. Will reading the book make you a happy lawyer? No! However, following the authors’ recommendations and taking the time to apply the framework within each lesson may be one step in that direction. While I cannot speak to the efficacy of applying the framework, I can say that 50 Lessons for Happy Lawyers is worth reading.

Cathy L. Purvis Lively is a member of The Florida Bar.