The Practice

189 ABA Journal The Practice articles.

Old-fashioned textualism is all about interpretation, not legislating from the bench

Although some lawyers and judges will always care more about policy arguments, nobody can safely ignore grappling with textual arguments.

Are you a lawyer with public speaking anxiety? You are not alone

Ignoring our negative mental soundtrack and automatic physical responses to stress doesn’t help us learn how to manage those tangible foes in a constructive way. I trudged forward pretending I knew what I was doing. I didn’t.

Lawyers can refer clients to lending companies in which they have a stake, ethics opinion says

Formal Opinion 484 intends to clarify attorney-fee financing used to help close the access-to-justice gap. While some in the business of facilitating loans welcome the opinion, others see it as nothing new.

Self-care isn’t selfish and can actually help your performance

Women, especially mothers, carry a disproportionate share of the cognitive load when it comes to child rearing and running the household. This is an additional burden for lawyers, who are already under tremendous pressure. Often, self-care practices lead to compounding positive effects. When you exercise, you have more energy, your mind feels clearer, you’re better able to focus and you’re more productive.

Test your knowledge of these not-so-everyday words

Among language lovers, Johnson O’Connor is best known for his work in understanding how vocabulary augmentation is a major key in unlocking human potential. O’Connor used these words in the 1940s to test American adults, some college-educated and some not.

Da Vinci’s code: Lawyers can draw valuable lessons from Walter Isaacson’s ‘Leonardo da Vinci’

With winter’s chill now in full force, I recall sitting in a beach chair in late August on a spit of sand on the rocky Maine coast reading Walter Isaacson’s…

Plain talk: A conversation on simplicity with Rudolf Flesch

Seeking to bring the scientific method to bear on readability, Rudolph Flesch advocated a simple and direct style of writing: short paragraphs, short sentences, few prefixes and suffixes, and relative informality. He developed two measures for assessing readability: (1) reading ease and (2) human interest.

Is recording others legal, and is it ethical?

A lawyer taping a client may be illegal in some circumstances, but it certainly is not unheard of. In fact, lawyers have surreptitiously tape-recorded conversations with witnesses, potential party opponents and clients.

Attorney suicide: What every lawyer needs to know

Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than nonlawyers, according to the American Psychological Association. Substance abuse rates within the legal profession are also much higher than for the general population. Clinical depression and substance abuse are highly correlated with suicide rates. The legal industry has the 11th-highest incidence of suicide among professions.

Contract ‘busts’: Trying to decipher provisions that literally make no sense

Some contractual provisions, perpetuated in deal after deal, make no literal sense. The problems are threefold: (1) whenever such a document is retyped, clerical errors are likely to occur; (2) the sameness of the party designations leads to cognitive difficulties for all readers—including the drafters themselves—because the only visual difference is the two-character suffix at the end; and (3) clients tend to resent such documents not just for their unreadability, but also for their appearing to be forms that the lawyer took little care in adapting.

Picking the path: Take time to assess and create an intentional, joyful, satisfying life

As we head into the new year, it’s a wonderful opportunity to pause, take inventory and become more intentional about identifying your values and aligning your life with what is truly important. Mindfulness and meditation, as well as working with a life coach, were incredibly helpful as I figured out how to travel that unexplored path.

Top 10 tips for business lawyers
Top 10 tips for litigators

This month, we’re sharing the next round of advice—this time aimed at litigators and business lawyers.

New ethics opinion offers timely reminder of lawyers’ duties after disasters

ABA Formal Opinion 482 addresses rules that lawyers must consider. Lawyers must follow the duty of communication required by Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires lawyers to communicate regularly with clients and keep them apprised of their cases. The duty of competency requires lawyers to consider the benefits and risks of relevant technology.

You’ve been hacked: Now what?

Lawyers must tell clients about breaches of their data and take steps to protect it.

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