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Quality of Life: Life's curve balls require good coping skills

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While most of the country is concentrating on March Madness, my thoughts have turned to America's national pastime - and the concept of the curve ball (and not just because I had picked Kansas to win the NCAA Championship).

What happens when life is humming along just fine and suddenly you're up to bat and the unanticipated curve ball causes you to strike out? What do you do?

The curve ball can take many forms: the diagnosis of a serious illness; the death of a family member or friend; the unexpected end of a marriage; the demise of a business or loss of a job; or even the loss of property or loved ones in a natural disaster. The curve ball comes in many shapes and sizes, but the common denominator is that there was no predicting it.

How well you survive such a situation depends largely upon your coping skills and your ability to react to negative circumstances in a healthy manner. This can be somewhat difficult for attorneys for a number of reasons. First, attorneys tend to want to control situations. By definition, the curve ball is something that we cannot control. This can leave us feeling helpless and at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors or exiting clients. The feeling of helplessness can manifest as anger, sadness, depression, or a variety of other emotions. The first step to coping with the curve ball is to allow yourself to express those emotions. Don't bottle up your feelings or attempt to "tough it out" on your own. Try to rid yourself of anger in as constructive a manner as possible. Releasing negative emotions can put you in a much better frame of mind for making clear-headed decisions as you progress through the situation.

To cope with sadness or feelings of devastation or loss, enlist the help of family, trusted friends, clergy, or a professional therapist. This is often difficult for an attorney because we have been trained to provide help to others, not to accept it. Allowing yourself to accept help from others is a significant step toward dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

In a way, attorneys are short changed because they never receive training in how to take care of themselves, in direct contrast to the training received by physicians or therapists, or others in professions that deal with carrying the burdens of others. Other helping professionals receive training in self-care because of the psychological toll that comes from being responsible for the problems of others. Little wonder that attorneys might not be equipped to handle the curve balls in their own lives.

Lawyers are problem-solvers. They want to get to the root of the problem, analyze it, make sense of it, and fix it. The very nature of the curve ball, however, is that all of the analysis in the world won't result in making sense of it, or help in creating a solution. Sometimes the situation is just unfair and senseless.

So, what can you do? After you deal with the initial emotional fallout as well as you can, you should ask yourself some questions:

What do I need to get through this? How can I get that need met?

Is the situation one that I have the energy to fight? If so, what help can I enlist to do so?

What will it take for me to let go or accept the situation?

Answering these questions can help you to chart a path for action. Above all, be kind to yourself. Many find it helpful to turn the problem over to a Higher Power. Whether for you that means prayer or meditation, it can be helpful. Studies have shown the effectiveness of prayer and meditation in the healing process. Remember that you don't have to handle these situations alone. Give yourself time for reflection. Let other people take care of you for a change. Try to be patient. And remember that as trite as it sounds, time heals.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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