July 22, 2014 – A recent research study of attorneys from four states, including Wisconsin, aimed to uncover the factors most relevant to lawyer happiness. In the July/August Wisconsin Lawyer, learn about the results. They may surprise you.
For instance, having autonomy on the job is 3.5 times as important as income in determining lawyer happiness, according to researchers Lawrence Krieger and Kennon Sheldon, who co-authored the study, “What Makes Lawyers Happy?”
The study compiled data from more than 6,200 lawyers, judges, and other law-related professionals. About 1,600 survey respondents were from Wisconsin.
In her cover story, also titled “What Makes Lawyers Happy,” author Diane Molvig highlights some key data points, connects with the study’s authors, and speaks with Wisconsin lawyers to gain perspective on what really makes a happy lawyer.
“Common thinking is that if someone exited a good law school at the top of the class, had been a member of law review, and then landed a high-paying job, he or she would be a poster child for the ‘happy lawyer,’” Molvig writes. “Not necessarily so.”
The study measured positive and negative affect and overall life satisfaction to get a happiness measure and asked various participants about factors like personal and work values, motivation, autonomy support at work, and working circumstances.
The top factors with the strongest correlations to happiness were those deemed to be “internal factors,” including autonomy, relatedness to others, and internal motivation. External factors like prestige and income were less important in determining happiness.
Meet Robert Gagan: SBW President
Green Bay attorney Robert Gagan took over on July 1, 2014 for a one-year term as President of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
In her article, “A Man with Connections,” writer Diane Molvig digs deeper into Gagan’s life, his motivations, and his intentions as president in the next year.
Through interviews and data, Molvig also takes a look at what the study means for employers, individuals, and law schools. For instance, the study suggests that law firms should facilitate lawyer happiness for two reasons: productivity and retention.
Getting Along: Wisconsin’s Frac Sandbox
Oil and gas companies use silica, a type of sand, to fracture shale formations. Wisconsin’s largest supply of silica has led to a huge increase in the number of frac sand mines in the state, and some people aren’t happy about this sudden resurgence.
In his article “Getting Along: Wisconsin’s Frac Sandbox,” Milwaukee lawyer Joseph Russell provides an overview of recent developments in the state’s frac sand industry, and notes two public concerns that must be addressed: silica dust and water pollution.
Russell says Wisconsin “will play a major role in America’s energy independence for years to come as the nation’s top frac sand source,” if that’s what Wisconsin wants.
Social Media: Locking the Door to Private Information
Employers, schools, and landlords desiring to obtain as much information as possible about prospective and current employees, students and tenants has resulted in some entities making intrusive requests for access to social media accounts.
Recently, Wisconsin passed so-called “social media privacy” legislation to restrict these practices. Milwaukee attorney Jesse Dill explains the law's restrictions and exceptions in his article, “Social Media: Locking the Door to Private Information.”
“The Wisconsin Social Media Protection Act added privacy protections to popular Internet services,” Dill writes. “Employers, educational institutions, and landlords must take care that information any entity seeks does not infringe on these protections.”
Columns: Effective Presentations, Strategic Planning for Law Firms, and More
The July/August Wisconsin Lawyer also contains various columns in the areas of marketing, law firm management, and alternative dispute resolution, among others.
101 column: Milwaukee lawyer Howard Myers provides an “Intro to ADR” that provides an overview of alternative dispute resolution, mainly arbitration and mediation, while addressing practical considerations for lawyers and their clients.
Marketing column: In “Seven Must-Do’s for a Stellar Presentation,” business development professional Jenna Atkinson provides tips on giving in-person presentations to targeted groups to gain clients and build your business.
“You’re Not Too Small for Strategic Planning.” This is what attorney coach and consultant Roy Ginsburg says in a Solutions column that explains how solo and small firms can benefit from a strategic plan, and how to put one together.
Solutions column: Attorney Tom Watson provides some practical considerations and important steps for those who want to start their own law firms in “Law Firm Boot Camp: Hanging Out Your Own Shingle.”
Final Thought: In “Relearning the Lessons of Freedom Summer,” Madison attorney Lester Pines recalls the 1964 events of “Freedom Summer” in Mississippi while reiterating the importance of protecting the right to vote.
July/August Wisconsin Lawyer