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Taking pride in your work and enjoying it is important to your overall success and happiness in life. Some people will find fault with every employer they work for. Beware of these destroyers who will often affect others with their negative views.
CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNER 1.800. 973. 1177 Builders and Destroyers [A. Harrison Barnes] Obviously, taking pride in your work and enjoying it is important to your overall success and happiness in life. Some people, however, will ﬁnd fault with every employer they work for - these “destroyers” will often affect others with their negative views. Beware. In every organization there are people who kindred spirits and followers. Such groups happiness in either their professional or are positive forces which lead, inspire and are readily identifiable in most law firms. personal lives. In the high-stress environ- build and others who are negative forces ment of being a legal professional, it is a very which criticize, depress and tear down. This There are, of course, many good reasons for easy outlook to adopt. Make sure that before dichotomy can be carried further to cover criticizing and finding fault with any insti- you adopt this outlook you know exactly what virtually any social group. This distinction is tution. Some of this criticism may also be you are doing. so black and white that a cognizable argu- quite productive. In addition, anyone who is ment could be made that most people can be constantly operating under the belief that A. Recognizing the Role of Psychiatric and grouped into one category or another. Which everything is rosy and perfect in their orga- Depressive Disorders in the Legal Profession are you? In life, as in work, you will be faced nization may be operating more under the with a decision of which group to join and influence of a delusion, or a very strong dose It may seem odd to discuss psychiatric your decision will have a meaningful impact of antidepressants, than an understanding of disorders in an article about finding happi- on your long-term success. Whether or not reality. If you consider the various aspects of ness and fulfillment in the legal profession. your workplace is composed mainly of build- your life such as your recreational activities, Notwithstanding, mental illness is something ers or destroyers will also have a meaning- your love life and even your family, you will that affects a lot of people. Since psychiatric ful impact on your organization’s overall find that the majority of your concentration disorders are so prevalent, it is important to success. is not on these things but on your job. This is be aware of them. Most builders tend not to especially so for most lawyers. Because your have any psychological issues. Conversely, The builder vs. destroyer dichotomy is per- job plays such a fundamental role in your most destroyers may be quite depressed haps most apparent in the legal community. existence, if you do not like your job you are and suffer from a variety of psychological Many studies have confirmed that lawyers, not going to enjoy life. problems. as a group, suffer more from psychologi- cal problems such as depression than other Presumably, you want to enjoy your job, and 1. The Role of Depressive Disorders in the professions. Because the role of a destroyer because your enjoyment in life is so funda- Legal Profession is to criticize, depress and tear down, there mental to your satisfaction in your work, it are likely to be a greater number of destroy- is important to decide whether or not you One research study surveyed 801 lawyers in ers in the legal profession than in most other will. In your job there is going to be constant the State of Washington and found that 19% professions. and ongoing temptations to become critical of the respondents suffered from depres- of your organization and adopt a negative sion and 18% were problem drinkers. (G.A.H. In your own legal organization-whatever it attitude. Destroyers will also, directly or not, Benjamin, E.J. Darling & B.D. Sales, The may be, there will be people who rarely talk try and get you to join them in their negativ- Prevalence of Depression, Alcohol Abuse, negatively about their organization and seek ity and constant criticism. This is something And Cocaine Abuse Among United States to contribute to it in an ongoing positive way. you are, of course, free to do. You need to Lawyers, 13 Journal of Law and Psychiatry These individuals will have kindred spirits understand, however, that by joining the 233 (1990)). Because there was a 5% overlap and followers. Conversely, most legal organi- negative/destroyer crowd and adopting its in these groups, close to one third of this zations have people who are constantly dis- party line you are not only going to be doing sample had a significant mental health satisfied with the organization and their jobs yourself a disservice, but you will be doing problem. and share their feelings with anyone who will your organization a disservice as well. Few choose to listen. These people will also have people who adopt this rationale ever find Similarly, a Johns Hopkins University study PAGE 1 continued on back CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNER 1. 800. 973.1177 found that of 28 occupations that could be feeling state while in the other. In discussing the destroyer mentality, it is compared in a statistically valid manner, law- important to realize the way it may define an yers were most likely to suffer from depres- When the idealized person finally disappoints individual inside the legal profession and the sion and more than 3.6 times more likely than (as we all do, sooner or later) the borderline group as a whole. Discussed below are the average to do so. (W.W. Eaton, J.C. Anthony, must drastically restructure his one-dimen- effect of an individual destroyer mentality and W. Mandel & R. Garrison, Occupations and the sional conceptionalization. Either the idol is that of a group destroyer mentality. Recog- Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder, 32 banished to the dungeon, or the borderline nizing both is essential for your long-term Journal of Occupational Medicine 1079 (1980)). banishes himself in order to preserve the all- success in the legal profession. The same study concluded that the legal envi- good image of the other person. ronment is particularly conducive to stress- 1. The Individual Destroyer Mentality related disorders due to the stress it produces Splitting is intended to shield the BP from a and other factors such as work complexity and barrage of contradictory feelings and images Whether it is because they are depressed, suf- the amount of work attorneys have to do. and from the anxiety of trying to reconcile fer from a borderline personality or have sim- those images. But splitting often achieves the ply adopted the views of other negative people While these statistics may not seem all that opposite effect. The frays in the BP’s person- inside an organization, there are individual significant-or even applicable to you-they are ality become rips, and the sense of his own destroyers inside every legal environment. something you need to understand if you work identity and the identity of others shifts even in the legal profession. These are the people more dramatically and frequently. When most of us start our first job we do so you work with -regardless of your role in the with a fair amount of enthusiasm. We are profession. Because so many attorneys are In my role as a legal recruiter, I am constantly working in the legal profession for many rea- suffering from mental difficulties, try as you speaking with people who have held a number sons. Some of these reasons may include: may, you will have a very difficult time avoid- of jobs over a short period of time. In each job ing people who are depressed in your legal this person takes, they entered the position Because we enjoy solving the problems of career. with an idolized vision of the employer. Then, others; as always, something occurs which makes Because the income is good; 2. The Borderline Personality in the Legal them hate the employer, and they then feel Because the job represents security for us; Profession an urgent need to find a new employer. This Because the work is viewed by society as pattern will repeat itself as many times as a prestigious; In the book I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me, the new employer is willing to hire the person. In Because we believe our particular organiza- psychiatrist Jerry Kreisman, M.D., defines in personal life, this same characteristic may tion is highly valued in our community, state layman’s terms the borderline personality dis- manifest itself in someone who moves from or country; order. Since approximately 2% of the general one romantic relationship to another and Because the organization may offer us the op- population suffers from this disorder, one can another and another. The process is never portunity for advancement; only surmise that lawyers have a much higher ending. Because we like the people inside the organi- incidence of this: zation; The world of a BP, like that of a child, is split B. The Destroyers Because we like the area of the country in into heroes and villains. A child emotionally, which the organization is located; the BP cannot tolerate human inconsistencies In understanding the role of destroyers, it is Because we like the particular type of work we and ambiguities; he cannot reconcile anoth- important to understand the importance of are doing; er’s good and bad qualities into a constant work to your day to day happiness. When we Because it is the best job we can get; coherent understanding of another person. At look to the neurotic and severely troubled Because we were competitive with someone any particular moment, one is either Good or in this society, we most often are looking at else who got a job at the organization and felt EVIL. There is no in-between; no gray area.... those who do not work. Whether it be the we needed to work there too in order to prove people are idolized one day; totally devalued poor beggar, the lunatic, the rich man’s son, something; and dismissed the next. or even the common criminal-most of these Because we believe we will do better in the job people can be defined by an inability to work. than in any other job; Normal people are ambivalent and can experi- The right to and ability to work is often bound Because we admire certain people inside the ence two contradictory states at one time; BPs up in happiness and the denial of work is often organization; or, shift back and forth, entirely unaware of one defined by a troubled psyche. Because we believe the people inside the PAGE 2 continued CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNER 1.800. 973. 1177 organization like us. an auto dealership. Besides, we make noth- working here.” I am sure you can find many other reasons ing compared to so and so inside the firm, I joined because I was competitive with some- why people may join a particular legal or- company, etc.” one else who got a job at the organization ganization. There are certainly just as many I joined because the job represents security and felt I needed to work there too in order to reasons why people leave organizations as for me; prove something; reasons they join them. When you join a legal “There is no security here. So and so was fired “So and so is a loser. They are not ½ the at- organization you will generally have several for absolutely nothing. No one here has any torney, legal secretary, etc. that you are. Did reasons for doing so, many of which you will security at all. Everyone here is unhappy. I you hear what X said about them?” share with others inside the organization. would not be surprised if this place closed any I joined because I believe I will do better in the The reasons you choose and give for joining a day.” job than in any other job; particular organization are generally reasons I joined because the firm has a reputation for “The important thing is whether the right that are particular to you. good work; people here have confidence in you. Are you “Did you hear about what happened with client really sure that is the case?” Life is quite confusing and because of this X? I am surprised that a lot of attorneys here I joined because I admire certain people inside confusion people generally adopt certain ra- have not been disbarred yet.” the organization; or, tionales to justify everything they do and their I joined because the organization is highly “I heard that so and so is cheating on his wife outlook towards the world. Certain people valued in our community, state or country; with his secretary.” simply justify their interaction with the world “The word on the street about this place is not I joined because I believe the people inside based upon their way of seeing things. When really that good.” the organization like me. “It’s good that we at you join any legal organization, you are going I joined because the organization may offer us least have each other.” to have a certain rationale for doing so that the opportunity for advancement; makes you comfortable and feel good about “Do you know how hard it is to make partner The individual destroyer does not require what you are doing. here? Even if you make partner, it is not worth much analysis because you certainly already it because X, Y and Z.” know who they are in your organization or can Inside the organization you are joining, there I joined because I like the people inside the recognize them just from the brief discus- are going to be people who do not feel good organization; sion above. The individual destroyer will often about their employer. These sorts of people “How can you possibly like all the people come to you acting as if they are offering a are not always easy to spot; however, you here? You know X, who you thought was your sympathetic ear and then serve to invalidate will generally meet them in a relatively short friend, she said that you were X, etc. You can- everything that you feel is positive about your period of time. As you offer your rationale and not trust anyone here.” particular organization. This person is doing good feelings about the organization, they will I joined because I like the area of the country nothing to help you. have a prepared set of counter-arguments to the organization is located in; let you know that things are not as good as “People may think it is sunny here all the time, In fact, this particular person would likely be you want them to seem. Using the above ex- but most lawyers in other areas of the country doing the same thing in any organization of ample, they may offer the following responses do not take attorneys from here seriously …. which they were a part. Whatever their criti- to your positive expressions of happiness with Or… cisms are, they would likely be present (albeit, the organization: “How could you ever raise a family in New in a different form) in any organization. Their York, it’s too expensive, crowded, dirty, etc.” methods may even have a competitive element I joined because I enjoy solving the problems I joined because I like the particular type of because by making you unhappy with your of others; work we are doing; role-and invalidating the things you like about “This is busy work. It is better to pay someone “I bet you thought you were going to get a lot your job-you may leave the organization and to solve the problems for you than to be the more of X type of work when you joined here, make room for them. person paid to solve them. Besides, most of didn’t you? They tell everyone they’ll get that these clients are dishonest anyway.” type of work when they join and it never pans I am certainly not a psychologist or a psy- I joined because the income is good; out.” chiatrist so a few observations are all I will “The pay is okay, but if you look at how much I joined because it is the best job I can get; venture to get into here: money you are making per hour based upon “Are you kidding? I’m your friend and I can First, if you are around people who are de- how many hours you are working, you could tell you that you can get a much better, higher pressed they are going to share their feelings probably make more money selling BMWs in paying, more prestigious job than you have with you. They are going to tell you why they PAGE 3 continued on back CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNER 1.800. 973. 1177 are depressed and unhappy. outnumber those who truly believe in the organization believes they are also destroyers, organization. A good argument can be made that organization will do its best to rid itself Second, if you spend your time associating and that most failed law firms failed because they of them as well. The organization has to do fraternizing with depressed people you will had too many destroyers. For example, firms this because its very well-being depends upon very soon come to see the world as they do: like Finley Kumble and others ran into serious doing so. as a depressing place. Because most of your trouble when they began hiring partners ag- conversations with these people will be in a gressively at the lateral level. Because most If there is one point of this article it is this: professional setting, much of the depression of these partners [presumably] were unhappy do not become a destroyer. The second point they speak about will likely be attributed to with their existing organizations when they is: do your best to distance yourself from where you work. moved to these firms, a good argument can destroyers. The destroyer will do you harm be made that the law firms hired too many in both how you feel about your job and, by Third, because humans are social animals, “destroyers.” The ongoing success of firms extension, how your employer thinks of you you will likely agree with these people, sympa- like Wachtel Lipton Rosen & Katz, Latham as well. thize with them and hence be granted by them & Watkins and others, it can be argued, is a the privilege of continual association. result of not hiring destroyers at an aggres- There are a lot of unhappy people in the legal sive level laterally. Similarly, the problems of profession and your objective should be to not Fourth, over time, you may become quite like some firms can be attributed to the merger become one of them or associate with them. these people with respect to your outlook on of a firm of unhappy destroyer lawyers with Because work is such an essential compo- your organization. another. nent of life, if you allow others to make you unhappy in your job, you will not only become Fifth, your performance and enthusiasm for The point is this: once the individual destroy- unhappy in your job-but in your life as well. your job will decrease and you will begin to ers have a certain critical mass, the group de- Realize that no organization-and I mean no feel depressed about your job. stroyer mentality will take over. At that point, organization-is perfect or ideal and do your the organization is in serious trouble. best to find the positives and ignore the Sixth, you will begin looking for a new job and negatives and you will do just fine. In order to then move on to another organization where C. Conclusions succeed in a legal environment, you must be the perceived problems with the organization constantly perceived as a builder and not a do not exist. Healthy legal organizations do their best destroyer. Once someone adopts the outlook not to hire destroyers in the first place and of a destroyer, no matter how far they look Seventh, this same cycle may continue to to recognize destroyers for what they are. they may never find an environment they are repeat itself over and over again with each Nevertheless, because destroyers are often happy with. successive employer. difficult to recognize-and their methods may The above analysis may sound quite extreme. be subtle-destroyers inevitably become part of However, scarcely a day goes by in my job as a any legal organization. The job of any healthy legal recruiter where I do not see this sort of organization is to flush out destroyers so that pattern being played out in some form or an- the organization can function effectively and other in the careers of the attorneys and oth- the people working there will be happy. Once ers I speak with. Depression and criticism of identified, a good legal organization will try to an organization is contagious and the people change the views of a destroyer. If the organi- who are constantly finding fault with their zation cannot change the views of a destroyer, organizations do cause the organization harm, it will do its best to ensure that they leave. and also harm the careers of those around them who adopt their views-no matter how What a destroyer inevitably leaves behind benign a series of gripes may at first appear. are other people who have been persuaded to adopt a similar destructive point of view 2. The Group Destroyer Mentality and outlook towards the organization. Good legal organizations are not stupid. They will In order for a law firm or any legal orga- remember who the destroyer associated nization to succeed, the destroyers cannot with closely and watch these people. If the PAGE 4
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