Judicial Balance: Lessons for Law and Life

September 2012  Volume 8, Issue 1
Developed by the Indiana Supreme Court for Indiana judges; used with permission

Whether elected or appointed, the privilege of sitting on an American judicial bench is unique. Judges are central to applying the law of the land with evenhanded fairness and, thereby, providing stability and justice in society. And, certainly, there is the gratification of helping to assure access for all to the courts and to bringing closure in individual cases. These are but a few of the privileges of the bench.

Yet, for all its opportunities and rewards, we must acknowledge that judges experience challenges as well. For many, these include personal security risks, the impact of ever-changing technology, judicial isolation, and, conversely, sometimes living in a fishbowl of sorts.

It is in light of these challenges that this newsletter seeks serve you. We hope Judicial Balance helps you navigate the sometimes exhilarating and sometimes treacherous waters of being a judge, and makes it easier to find and enhance your fulfillment in serving the public as a judicial officer.

— Brent E. DicksonChief Justice of Indiana 

Having It All… Or Not
If we truly believe in equal opportunity for women, things have to change. Anne-Marie Slaughter asserts that women can have it all, just not within our current economic and social structure. Slaughter’s thought-provoking article demands that certain facts be acknowledged – and quickly changed. Please see, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Atlantic Magazine, July/August 2012. HTML

Daniel Pink’s book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in what motivates people, be it yourself or those around you. Pink asserts that we are driven by three innate needs: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When these are achieved, there is excellence and satisfaction to boot. Please see, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink, Riverhead Trade, April 2011 (widely available). Review by Lisa Sperow at startyourownsmallbiz.com, Sept. 2011. HTML

Take Control
Do you explode easily or take things personally? Whether dealing with courtroom frustration or road rage, you can manage your emotions. “Framing” is the way you view a situation, and different framing produces amazingly different results. Ultimately, you decide if anger will get the best of you. Please see, “At the End of Your Rope? Try This Great Trick for Diffusing Anger,” by Simon and Schuster Authority, Shine for Yahoo; August 22, 2012 (from The Art of Falling in Love, by Joe Beam, Howard Books 2012). HTML

Subverting Stress
Judges deal with significant stress – be it theirs or someone else’s – on a daily basis. To help colleagues cope with the pressures of the job, Judge Steven Wallace shares some anti-stress tactics; most are uniquely judge-oriented. Please see, “Ten Ways to Reduce Judicial Stress,” by Judge Steven Wallace, Utah Bar Journal, May 2012. HTML

The Crucial Role of Civility
Civility is an inextricable part of our national heritage. It is critical to our proper functioning, and to any progress we seek. Written for Virginia lawyers, this plea for civility applies to judges and lawyers everywhere, and reminds us of our role in cultivating civic virtue. Please see, “Civility in the Law, Society, Politics, and Government: Civic Virtue and the Rule of Law,” by Frank Overton Brown, Jr., Virginia Lawyer, April 2012. PDF

A “Happy List”
This is different: it’s a stream-of-consciousness list of things that make life worthwhile for the author. Odds are, it will boost your mood. Hopefully it will bring perspective to your day, or inspire you to create your own happy list. Enjoy. Please see, “A Worthwhile Life: Reader’s Choice,” by Michael Heatherly, Washington State Bar News, April 2012. HTML