I am working on my third novel about my protagonist lawyer, Gabriela Sanchez. Gabriela grew up in the Rio Grande Valley where our daughter taught school, our son-in-law grew up and taught school and one of the top lawyers I mentored grew up.

I started writing the third novel in 2019 before COVID-19. The story began in late, 2019 when a seventeen-year-old girl and a sixteen-year-old girl are arrested for murder. Early in the story a priest asks Gabriela to defend the seventeen-year-old girl.

I chose those ages because because Texas is one of only a handful of states that treats seventeen-year-old defendants as adults. The seventeen-year-old’s trial was scheduled for March of 2020. But as I started the countdown to the trial in the novel, the Corona Virus changed everything. As I write this blog she girl still sits on the floor reserved for seventeen-year-olds in the Dallas County Jail, with no trial date set yet.

Gabriela is single. Each month that goes by she is more lonely, unhappy and frustrated, while her client withers away in jail. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in one way or another, but with the vaccine one can only hope we will reach a time when COVID-19 is not the cause of our unhappiness. How can you get back in the swing of things then?

Ten years ago I wrote a column in The Practical Lawyer titled: Some Practical Thoughts on Conquering Career Burnout. It is based on two books I co-authored about Tony and Gina Caruso.

In Say Ciao to Chow Mein: Conquering Career Burnout, Christina Bost Seaton and I focused on Tony, who after finishing his first year as an associate in a large Texas law firm is burned out and struggling to find meaning in his career. In Ciao, Gina loves her work as a clerk for a Federal Court judge. At the conclusion of Ciao, Tony has just been promoted to partner and he and Gina have two children.

In Rising Star: The Making of a Rainmaker, Kristi Sebalj and I focused on Gina. In this law parable business book Gina is now a partner in a mid-sized firm. She is the talk of the firm, having brought in $1 Million of business. Yet, she feels like a one-hit wonder because her success was a result of one big case from one big client.

Like the novels I have written more recently, the books are not big sellers on Amazon. I still have a few boxes of the hard copies of the books. If you firm wants a box and is willing to pay the shipping costs, contact me.

During my law and coaching career, I knew and worked with lawyers like Tony and Gina. Their characters are a composite of lawyers who have worked for me and lawyers I have been blessed to coach and mentor.

While practicing law for 35 plus years and coaching close to 1500 lawyers over many years, I studied and examined differences between lawyers who were successful and happy and lawyers who were not. Many of the successful lawyers with whom I worked or who I coached also had great personal lives and were focused on their families as a top priority.

What does it take? Here is what I discovered. Lawyers who are both successful and happy:

  • Take control their careers and destiny
  • Know what they want
  • Develop a plan to accomplish it and take action to achieve their goals
  • Build relationships
  • Work on making a contribution to a cause greater than themselves.

If you have the time, get to know Tony and Gina. You will see some of the same challenges you face and some of the same opportunities you have. As you will see, you can conquer career burnout by following the ideas above.