Simplicity Lawyering: Read the Facts

I was building a pump shed with my judge friend, Margie (aka, the Honorable Margaret Olden Dorf), when she told me she intended to reread Walden by Henry David Thoreau. She said her life was getting complicated, and she wanted to focus on getting back to basics, especially when it comes to staying better connected with family and friends.

Now, Thoreau, you may recall, is one of our treasured American philosophers. Walden, of course, was his account of living by a pond for two years in Massachusetts under fairly primitive conditions, even for the 1840s. Most of us know about Thoreau only because we were forced to read him in high school. Depending on how well we followed the assignment, we may or may not remember his admonition:

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Simplicity, simplicity; simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quick-sands and thousand and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify; simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

I think that was the passage Margie wanted to revisit.

Can we really simplify?

To which, I would guess most of us wrould say, “Yeah, right!’ and smirk, because we know that being California business attorneys in the first part of the 21st Century is anything but simple. It’s one thing to be simple while hanging out by the pond back before the Civil War. It’s another to try the same feat in an era of iphones, fast track and malpractice liability exposure.

Then, I ran into a prominent employment attorney, John Hancock, at a social function by Crowdsource Lawyers. I asked him how he’s been doing. He smiled at me, and it didn’t even looked strained. “There’s a new word in my vocabulary,” he told me enthusiastically. “It’s called balance ” I was a little taken aback. Simplicity? Balance? Just what is going on here, anyway?

In truth, Judge Olden Dorf’s simplicity’ and John Thoreson’s balance have always been with us, but in our rush to service clients, find new work, get the money in and everything else that goes with a busy law practice, we tend to forget these basics unless something pops up to force them into our awareness.

We all probably know’ people who are caught up in complexity in their practices. They rush about. They struggle endlessly to find time to attend to every-thing on their plate. We probably have all been that person from time to time.

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As for unbalanced lives, we’ve all seen that defect destroy friends and their families, be it through overwork, drug addiction, alcohol abuse or love lost through neglect.

I once asked a lawyer of humble beginnings who had banked a large for-tune if wealth was everything he’d dreamed it would be. “It’s more of a curse, actually;” he told me. He was struggling at the time with one of his children in a rehab program populated exclusively by other children from wealthy families. I felt great compassion for him, but also a certain helplessness. Balance comes from within, I think.

About Ambika Taylor

Myself Ambika Taylor. I am admin of For any business query, you can contact me at [email protected]