Maryland Bar Center
520 West Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Direct Line: 443-703-3041
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC
Lawyers Assistance Program Counselor
Direct Line: 443-703-3042
Honorable William G. Simmons
Lawyer Assistance Committee Chair
and the Red Velvet Cake!
by Carol P. Waldhauser
After working in a large firm for more than 10 years; Kara felt
it was time to go on her own as a sole-practitioner. Kara’s
goals were twofold: to have more time to devote to her
personal life while successfully practicing law. Within
two short years, Kara realized that she had built a thriving
solo-practice; but it was at the expense of her personal life. In
fact, Kara did not control her time; her law practice did!
one to give up, Kara sought ways to maintain her thriving practice
while achieving balance in her life – or at this point
even having a life outside of the practice of law. Kara
researched the issues; then found solutions. She took this
data and mentally drew up her action plan for managing time in
both her professional and personal life.
Kara still works too many hours; and finds herself in
“black-hole”. In fact, Kara wonders if she can ever
have a balanced work/life relationship.
while waiting in the hall for the afternoon docket to begin,
Kara saw her friend and mentor. She discussed with him
her concerns of working so many hours in order to be successful
in her practice.
Moreover, Kara told her attorney-friend that she had been trying
for a year, or more, to achieve a more balanced life-style. After
listing to her, he asked: “Kara, have you ever heard
the story of Max and the Red-Velvet Cake?” Kara shook
her head, no. He proceeded to tell her the following:
decided that he would surprise his significant other by baking
a red velvet cake. Subsequently, Max left his law office;
stopped at the food store; bought the box cake mix and other
ingredients needed. Once home, Max read the directions
while preheating the oven. However, to this day, Max has
never baked that red velvet cake. Do you know why?
Kara shook her head, no. And again, her friend began to
many of us, Max had good intentions and sound plans; however,
he failed to implement them. Implementation
is often the single most overlooked phase of change. In
other words, just reading the directions off of the box is
not enough to end up with a red-velvet cake. You must
implement the directions by mixing the ingredients and putting
the finished product in the oven to bake!
time Kara shook her head in the affirmative because she understood
clearly his message. No matter how elementary it sounded,
there are components to a process!
Kara, knowing what her problems are and knowing how to solve
them - were not enough. She needed to create a consistent
routine that would implement the desired changes which in turn
would lead to her reaching her goals.
an astute attorney, Kara understood that it took fitness and
renewed stamina to be a competent, successful attorney. Furthermore,
fitness meant not just fitness of legal expertise; but
also those qualities of physical, mental and psychological health
that enables a lawyer to carry out these responsibilities. In
other words, attorneys must maintain stamina. Accordingly, stamina
is not obtainable by working 24/7 throughout one’s professional
life. Rather, a balanced, meaningful lifestyle is most conducive
to long-term stamina, wellness, and ongoing high performance.
identified from her research that the benefit of a balanced lifestyle
is that it nourishes your whole being: your mind, your
body, your emotions, and your spirit. In other words, your
mind needs to think positively, your emotions need to manifest
love, your spirit needs to find purpose, and your body needs
fitness. A balanced lifestyle addresses your needs at all
these levels – and without this balance – the risks
are high that you may burn-out in the long run.
by learning from her friend’s story, Max and the Red
Velvet Cake, Kara understood that all this information was
great; but in order to actually acquire a balance in her life
she had to implement what she had learned. Kara
needed to implement a comprehensive plan which consisted of techniques,
strategies, and baby-steps.
Managing Herself; Not Time
to it as Personal Management - managing her dominant interests. Dominant
interests are the major areas of life where Kara spends time. Of
course, dominant interests vary, so Kara created a unique chart
to clarify her lifestyle focus.
also learned that the ideal number of dominant interests is
usually 3-7. With less than three, you may find yourself
out of balance. With more than seven, you’re likely
to be stressed out, or worse, burned out.
in order to achieve balance in all
of these areas, Kara planned the following:
meditation, active participation at her places of worship;
or even a walk in nature and/or community projects.
it’s reading, listening to tapes, working cross-word
puzzles, writing, playing games or whatever, make time
to stimulate her mind apart from work and the daily grind
of practicing law.
aerobic exercise like walking, running, hiking, dancing,
biking or swimming – even team sports like volleyball
or basketball; working in the garden, etc.
or weekend getaways and vacations; retreats; family
reunions; calling friends for a monthly time-out; even getting
back to having relatives over for dinner and old home movies
to celebrate a special occasion.
Steps – One-day-at-a-time.
the days that I am not in Court – I will force myself
to take a mid-day walk – giving thanks for the blessings
- I will
read from a good book at least 15-30 minutes each day –
something entertaining – and not law related.
home from my days in Court – I will listen to
- I will
attend at least one worthwhile seminar each quarter
on health and well-being.
- I will
join a dance class and attend once per week;
- I will
take my dog for a walk at least 2x per day, every day;
- I will
make it a point to call my closest friends at least
once per month, more if possible;
- I will
make it a point to schedule a quarterly lunch or dinner
with my friends;
- I will
start having family re-unions to celebrate a special
occasion or just to enjoy a sports-event.
Kara knew that finding time for relaxation was essential. Furthermore,
to maintain serenity in both her personal and professional
life these guidelines where incorporated:
on the today.
what you cannot change.
Change what you can and let go of the rest.
the Fear but don’t wallow in it.
Your Cool and LAUGH.
taking personal responsibility in her own personal management,
Kara is realizing her goals of a better balance between work
and the rest of her life. Implementing her plan, one-day-at-a
-time, one step at a time, Kara is in charge and she is managing
her time; her law practice is not. In fact, Kara has
even found time to bake a decadent, red-velvet cake!
more information on quality of life issues call the MSBA’s
Lawyer Assistance program (410) 685-7878 Ex. 252/410) 685-3993/or