Judicial Balance: Lessons for Law and Life

March 2013  Volume 8, Issue 4
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 

Begin With the End in Mind
While the legal profession is exhilarating, we must consider the end of our career before the end is nigh. Susan Koenig challenges us to reflect on the legacy of our life’s work: how we have helped others; our relationships; our succession plan; and even our gratitude. Please see, “Celebrating the Seasons of Our Life: A Lawyer’s Winter,” by Susan A. Koenig, The Nebraska Lawyer, January/February 2013. http://nebar.com/associations/8143/files/TNL-0113i.pdf

People Smarts
Our level of “people smarts” – the way we relate to others – is perhaps the single greatest contributor to personal happiness and success. High social intelligence also yields stronger families and communities by focusing on commonalities between individuals. Thankfully, people skills can be cultivated. Please see, “How to Develop Your People Smarts,” by Susan K. Minarik, Positive-Living-Now, Feb. 2013. http://www.positive-living-now.com/how-to-develop-your-people-smarts/

Sharing the Pants
This book explores the unique challenges of marriage with a lawyer. A collection of essays by the husbands of women lawyers, Sharing the Pants focuses on work/life balance from the male perspective and seeks to help couples find that elusive balance. Please see, Sharing the Pants: Essays on Work-Life Balance by Men Married to Lawyers, by Jacquelyn Hersh Slotkin and Samantha Slotkin Goodman; Vandeplas Publishing (2009). Widely available. Review by The National Jurist, admin., June 2010. http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/married-lawyers-share-pants

Just Do It
You need a vacation once in a while. Time away from work is a critical part of the work/life cycle. To remain constantly at work diminishes your judgment and leads to a host of other issues, ranging from poor health to damaged relationships. Please see, “How’d You Spend Your Summer Vacation?” by Martin Cole, Minnesota Bench and Bar, Aug. 2012. http://mnbenchbar.com/2012/08/howd-you-spend-your-summer-vacation/

The Lighter Side
Despite being well-qualified for the bench, now-retired Judge J. Samuel Johnston recalls his surprise at the parade of humanity – with its dramas and foibles – that appeared before him. He recounts hilarious stories from the courtroom, reminding us that humor can get you through nearly anything. Please see, Why Judges Wear Robes, by Judge J. Samuel Johnston, Retired; Warwick House Publishing, First Ed. (2009). Widely available. Review by Dawn Chase, Virginia Lawyer, April 2010. http://www.vsb.org/docs/valawyermagazine/vl0410_book.pdf

(Don’t) Do It All
Achieving perfection is impossible, yet many of us can’t resist the challenge. Professional women often struggle to “have it all,” and to do it all alone. Yet, women remain underrepresented in the highest echelons of the workforce. Can we achieve our personal and professional goals simultaneously? Please see, Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect, by Debora Spar, The Daily Beast, and Sept. 2012. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/23/why-women-should-stop-trying-to-be-perfect.html