Mental Health and Work/Life Balance

Of Boomers and Beemers

“It just doesn’t matter.” 

Bill Murray in Meatballs

I am a Boomer who never owned a Beemer. The best that I ever did was a Honda Accord and I had to make my way through a Chevy Citation, Dodge Aries, and a couple of Pontiacs to get that far.

I had a few partners who owned Beemers.  They all said that they bought them because they liked how they drove, but we all knew the truth.  What they really liked was how they looked in them.  Successful and well-off.

I am also a Boomer who lived in Woodbridge on the wrong side of the wall. (For those of you who do not know the area, think Scarborough instead of North York, or Queens instead of Manhattan.)

I had a few partners who lived in some pretty fancy digs. They all said that they bought them because they were so conveniently located. Even the guy who lived in Rosedale and drove for an hour in traffic to Mississauga for work said that. But we all knew the truth. They liked giving people their address, having the ‘right’ neighbours, and sending their kids to the ‘right’ schools.

Although I may think that my inclination toward deprivation means that I have better values than some of these other folks, it may just be that I am wrong on that. As Zig Zigler said, “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”   

There is a fair deal of talk in the legal profession about addressing mental health issues. In fairness to those at the forefront of the mental health initiative, we have made a great deal of progress in marketing, help lines, yoga classes, seminars, and other superficial exercises.  However, the root of the problem is, and has always been, that lawyers work too many hours. And they work that many hours because senior partners want to earn a level of income that will permit them to drive Beemers and live in the most expensive neighbourhoods in town.  

Meaningful change is simply not going to happen until partners learn to say, “it just doesn’t matter,” and put their own well-being and that of their associates and employees before profits.

My take on human nature tells me that it ain’t likely to happen during my lifetime.

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