Tuesday Shorts 11/27/07

Lessons Learned on Balance: I’ve read Ellen Rappaport Tanowitz’s article Balancing Act: Lessons Learned (published in the September issue of the ABA’s GP/Solo New Lawyer newsletter) several times now, and it’s touched me each time.  After recounting the story of death at an unconscionably young age, Tanowitz writes:

Luke’s dad has taught me some very valuable lessons, that I plan to carry with me and that I share with you. First, if something is really important to you, find a way to do it. Don’t wait for the perfect time or until you have enough money—don’t be frivolous or reckless or use it as an excuse to hit the spending limit on your credit cards—but do it, because really, the perfect time rarely arrives. Second, I am sure I am not the only one who can tell such a story. I know that most of us know families like Luke’s or maybe we are Luke’s family. So when the minutiae of life has got you down—take a deep breath and try to look at the bigger picture and try to realize that things really aren’t that bad.

Think twice before you check luggage.  Just a few days ago, I received payment and flight coupons from Delta to “compensate” me for the loss of my luggage in early October.  I still can’t quite fathom how the loss occurred, since it seems that the luggage claim tag was removed from my bag and applied to another bag instead, and I’m at a complete loss as to any way to protect against future losses.  The Law Practice Management blog offers a cautionary post with good reminders: Traveling with Luggage Is Getting Harder.  According to the post, 1 in 138 checked bags was lost during the first nine months of 2007.  (I’m unclear on the whether these bags were delayed or truly lost.)  I’ve always been careful not to check client materials when I travel, and this is why:

And most importantly, be sure that any client-sensitive data and other essential work-related information is kept with you at all times, or shipped by a private carrier ahead of time. With the odds increasingly getting worse, you don’t ever want to risk having to inform the client that their confidentiality may have been compromised by airport baggage mishandling.

Do they give thanks?  The Thanksgiving issue of the New York Times included an article on perks that some large firms offer their associates.  The lucky associates enjoy such delights as on-site massage, food delivery (including dinner on a silver tray), on-site daycare, in-home emergency nanny services, a nap room, and much more.  Perkins Coie, which is roundly regarded as a terrific place to work, even features a “happiness committee” that delivers “random acts of kindness” to the hardworking lawyers and staff.  Reading the article, I found myself wondering what clients think of some of the more indulgent treats:

But Mr. Johnson of Law Practice Consultants said that some corporate clients paying $350 an hour and more to some associates, and double that or more to partners, were irritated. The corporate clients “don’t want to be responsible for associate training,” he said. “I hear them say all the time, ‘they treat their associates better than I get treated at my company.’”

Although some of these perks do facilitate work (raising questions about balance), thinking about perks plus quite high hourly rates leads me to think, again, that this is a great time for local/regional small/mid-sized firms to approach clients of large firms and poach some business.

And yet, I must admit that I also wonder: what’s the opposite of schadenfreude?

2 replies
  1. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Hi, Julie. You say, “And yet, I must admit that I also wonder: what’s the opposite of schadenfreude?”

    The Buddhists have the concept “mudita” which points to a “sympathetic joy” or deriving pleasure in another’s good fortune. Perhaps why it’s a more common term/experience in a Buddhist’s culture than in American culture. Hmmm.

  2. Julie Fleming-Brown
    Julie Fleming-Brown says:

    Peter, thanks for sharing the “mudita” concept. I suspect that engaging in sympathetic joy would carry a lot of benefits, and that doing so also requires a belief that more good for others doesn’t mean less good for oneself. Tough cookie to swallow at times, especially for pessimists.

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