Sunday, November 19, 2006

Winning, Burn-Out, and Other Random Thoughts in an Airport on Sunday Morning

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

My philosophical musings several weeks ago on the joy of winning were tested severely last night as Bogdanski my beloved Wolverines fell to Ohio State 42-39.  I remember watching the Stanford moot court finals many years ago (in which, as I recall, Lewis & Clark Professor Jack Bogdanski, left, was a finalist) where one of the judges was the late A. Leon Higginbotham of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  Either in post-argument or pre-argument comments, the judge said "a well-prepared lawyer never loses; the client may not prevail, but the lawyer never loses."  Is it mere rationalization, am I getting more mature (unlikely if you have seen me teach!), or does the outcome just not matter as much to me as heart and valor, even in defeat, and respect for a great opponent?  Congratulations to the Buckeyes.  You earned it.

On a completely different matter, the New York Times Business section this morning has a profile on Philip Kent, currently the chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting.  What struck me was the peripatetic nature of his career, from ad sales in the media business, to producing and selling news inserts for TV stations, to being a Hollywood agent at CAA (of Michael Ovitz and Disney fame), to running a book publishing and video distribution business at Turner.  I don't think the track of the typical law professor's career encounters this, and perhaps it is just me, but I've concluded after all these years that spending an entire law career, as many do, in the same firm, doing the same kind of work, progressing in the level of oversight and client contact, is still not a natural act.  There was kind of an unwritten rule in the corporate world that three to five years in most jobs was about the time it took to learn the job, do it well, and then begin the slide toward boredom (or in the extreme case, burnout).  I don't know if there is empirical data, but it seems to me that career angst - boredom, combined with attractive incomes that make it difficult to change - is relatively more common among lawyers than perhaps other professions (though I wonder what keeps filling cavities as a dentist new and fresh year after year).  But it always seems like the ex-yuppies running a B&B in Maine were big firm lawyers.

Billable Hours, Law Firms, Lipshaw, Straddling the Fence, The Practice | Permalink

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