Do I Have a Case? Let’s Talk About It

By Marc E. Gustafson

“Do I have a case?” It seems like such a simple question. One that would seemingly lend itself immediately to an IRAC analysis (that’s Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion for those of you who have effectively blocked out your first year of law school). This question, maybe more than any other, is littered with legal booby traps for the unwary. But it also presents an opportunity for lawyers to have a full and frank conversation with prospective clients about not just legal merits but the legal process.

I get it. Just like I do with my Internist, potential legal clients want to jump right to the diagnosis. Is my hamstring torn? Do I have [name the disease]? And just as I get frustrated or impatient with my doctor wanting to run some blood work, to try physical therapy, or to just wait and see, it is easy to appreciate why those who are seeking legal advice regarding a potential employment matter can’t understand why there’s no quick (and cheap) answer.

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“When I’m 64”

Leslee, a white woman with light brown hair and dark brown rimmed glasses, wears a navy dress with red and white flowers, a navy sweater, and a gold kangaroo pin. By Leslee Ruth Sharp

The Beatles released that song in 1967. I was much too young to appreciate how far away the age of 64 was or what my life would look like. Although had you asked my mother, she would share I knew I was going to be an attorney since about the age of 3. I’ve been preparing to be or engaged in being a lawyer almost my entire life. I have been extremely fortunate to practice in two main areas that I truly enjoy: real property and elder law.

Like many attorneys, this is not just my career; it is who I am. I chose a life with no children (being the favorite Aunt has its perks). Instead, I built a practice using my time, my focus, my energy, and certainly the support of colleagues, family and friends. But still.

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Of Competition, Stress, and Well-Being

Will, a white man with a brown beard, and grey glasses, wears a blue and peach plaid shirt. By Will Graebe 

Like many other lawyers, I grew up in a competitive family. The dinner table was a debate stage. Jeopardy was a full-contact sport. Performance and achievement led to reward and affirmation. This environment prepared me for many of the challenges I would face in my adult life—law school, the bar exam, and the stress of practicing law. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that something was missing. This way of living was not sustainable for me. So, I set out on a journey ten years ago to explore my own well-being and to redefine what flourishing looked like for me. I’d like to share some of what I have learned.

This is not another article encouraging readers to meditate, write a gratitude journal, practice mindfulness, exercise, sleep and eat better, engage in service work, get out in nature, or change their mindset. While these are all valuable practices, by now, most of us know what we can do to improve our well-being. We have been inundated with well-being content offering specific wellness tools. Instead, what follows are principles that I have found helpful in guiding my well-being journey.

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