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GPSolo Magazine

GPSolo March/April 2024: Niche Areas of Law Practice

Everything Is Temporary

Julie T Houth


  • Nothing lasts forever, even the most challenging work assignment, so remember your purpose—and that all things are temporary.
  • Paying attention to the stories we create for ourselves is a great way to get out of a funk.
  • Be in the moment. We all get bogged down with the responsibilities of lawyer life, but we have only one life to live.
Everything Is Temporary
Andriy Onufriyenko via Getty Images

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Lawyers are usually viewed as mentally strong individuals. It comes with the job. We must be strong for our clients and for our peers. But lawyers are still humans. We can have breakdowns and be emotionally vulnerable, just like the rest of society. This does not necessarily make us weak. It means we are human. I’ve faced many challenges in the past couple of years. A lot of these challenges have been work-related—the daily challenges that lawyers face in law practice, such as time management and the pressures of meeting multiple high-level deadlines. Lawyer life has not been easy, and it is not meant for everyone. Overall, I’ve enjoyed the challenges that come with being a lawyer because they give me a sense of purpose. But I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve had many moments wondering if I can handle it all.

Powering Through

During the earlier part of this year, I had to absorb more of what we lawyers like to call “dumpster fire cases” to clean up. While I am grateful that my firm has a high level of trust that I will take care of what needs to be taken care of in these cases, my stress levels are off the chain when I am given these types of cases. Do I still meet every single deadline? Yes. Do I advocate for my clients to the best of my ability, regardless of how long I’ve handled the case? Of course. But there are times when I do physically feel sick when I need to do this. While I was in transit to the ABA Midyear Meeting in Louisville, I had to prepare a response to a motion for a case I just absorbed. I had only a couple of days to review the file and prepare a response, as the deadline was February 1. My closest colleagues, who were also in attendance at the ABA Midyear Meeting, were fully aware I was under what seemed like the deadline of my life. While I appreciated the concerned faces and sentiments from my colleagues, I knew that I needed to hype myself up to complete this task and do it well. I told them, “Pain is temporary. This will inevitably be over. The faster I finish it, the faster I can move on from this situation.” Looking back, I am impressed that I was able to stay calm, put my head down, and grind. Interestingly, I did not have Internet service on my plane to Louisville, the Internet was spotty in my hotel room, and my remote desktop was down for the entire night until the next morning, the day of the deadline to file my response to the court. I learned later the next day that my entire firm’s remote server was down all night and most of the next morning. Here is where I’ll remind you all that it is important to adapt in the face of adversity. Knowing how to adapt and doing it quickly will save you in the legal profession.

In this situation, I allowed myself to panic for about five minutes. That was all I could afford. I needed to think clearly and logically to find a solution. We’re lawyers. That’s what we do—solve problems. I decided to tether the Internet off my phone for eight hours in the wee hours of the night. Because I was still unable to get access to my remote desktop, which is where my Microsoft Office applications reside, I had to think of another solution. I decided to access and download the Microsoft Teams application to my local desktop and work on the Word document through the Teams application. It was a challenge at every step to complete this task. The formatting was off because I was preparing this response on the application version, but I did it. I finished it eight hours later. Unfortunately, sleep was sacrificed (again) for this task, but I met the deadline. I was able to transfer the content of the response to a Word document once I had access to my remote desktop again and file it with the court on time. It was the hardest eight straight hours of my life (well, recently). But, again, it was temporary, and after eight hours, I got my life back. I rewarded myself with long sleep and attended the ABA Midyear Meeting events as planned. I understand not everyone can do this, but the moral of the story here is that nothing lasts forever, even the most challenging work assignment. There really are times you need to dig deep in this profession, and remembering your purpose and that things are temporary helps.

Understanding That Everything Is Temporary

My go-to activities to relieve stress are still exercise and my beauty and skin-care routine, but I feel like I need more. As you all likely know, my sweet husky, Maximus, passed away last year from cancer at the young age of six. I’ve always said that pets are the best therapy, and I stand by that, even without having my dog now. I still think about Max to this day, and when I do, I am reminded that everything is temporary. Understanding and acknowledging that everything is temporary puts everything in life into perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I still get deeply emotional to the point of sobbing when thinking of Max, but all the memories I had with him make me cherish my time with him even more. You develop a sense of gratefulness when you think back on your happy memories.

Every experience is unique. As clichéd as it sounds, every time you look around, your eyes are taking snapshots of memories for you. Whether you remember those memories is up to you. It depends on how important it is to you and has a lot to do with your sense of awareness. Paying attention to the stories we create for ourselves is a great way to get out of a funk. Be in the moment. We all get bogged down with the responsibilities of lawyer life, but we have only one life to live. Appreciate that nothing lasts forever. Choose to live life to the fullest because this is it.