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Setting Boundaries

One of the toughest things I've done (and am still doing) is setting boundaries when it comes to work. We, as lawyers, have a number of reasons that justify breaking down any boundaries between work and the rest of your life: (a) client expectations that we be available; (b) emergencies do come up (e.g., TRO filings); (c) we are paid by the hour so if there is work to be done, there is incentive to do it as it comes in to free up time for potential additional work in the future; (d) other lawyers' expectations; (e) the lawyer discourse and comparison game (e.g., "I billed so much time last week," which we (or at least I) often taken to mean, "I work harder than you"); and (f) deadlines.

For all of these reasons, we feel like we have to make ourselves available at all times. When I am able to set boundaries though (which is definitely not all the time), I am much happier and better off for it, which makes me a better lawyer than I otherwise would be. I am not saying that I have it figured out because I still work to maintain those boundaries on a daily basis. But it's important work.

Being a lawyer is what I do for a living but it does not define me. This may not be true for everyone and as a result, we are made to feel 'less-than.' One of the things I worked on in therapy for years was realizing that we can make choices that allow us to be true to who we are. I am a good lawyer, I do good work, I care about my clients (sometimes too much for my own good), and I work hard. But I am happiest when I can leave the lawyering at work and let it go when doing other things.

I still struggle with 'lawyer anxiety' and 'lawyer depression' but by setting boundaries, I do not struggle with these feelings all the time. And it seems to be that the more I practice leaving work at work, the easier it is.

Vacation, however, is still really difficult for me. More to come on that in the future.

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