Money is a significant source of stress for many of us. Lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed understand the pressure all too well.
If you feel stressed by lack of money, how can you get on track? Meet your goals? Create a vision for the future? The answer is to take a multi-dimensional approach.
Step 1: Coping With Your Feelings
The American Psychological Association has some excellent tips on how to cope with the tension and stress caused by personal financial problems. Among their suggestions: ask for professional support.
In Oregon, we are fortunate to have the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. The OAAP is available to assist Oregon lawyers and their families with any issues that affect a lawyer’s ability to function. This includes depression or anxiety caused by financial worry. If financial problems are affecting your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one, friend, or colleague, contact the OAAP and speak with an attorney counselor. OAAP services are free and confidential.
Step 2: Communicating about Money Issues
Many of us don’t know how to talk to others about money. We are fearful, anxious, and may even engage in self-sabotage.
Whether you are struggling to speak openly to a loved one or your law partner, help is available.
In 2010, the OAAP held a program entitled Money Matters featuring Brian Farr – a licensed professional counselor specializing in individual, couple, and financial therapy. Oregon lawyers can order the Money Matters program and download the handout at no charge from the PLF Web site. (MCLE credit for this CLE has been extended through the end of this year.)
In Money Matters, Mr. Farr reviewed how to communicate about money issues and create a clear and accurate financial picture. His handout includes a self-test for financial troubles, spending worksheet, monthly income and expense snapshot, and balance sheet.
If you are looking for guidance on how to talk to loved ones or colleagues about money issues, order this program. If you are looking for practical tips on how to get a handle on your finances, order this program. For one-on-one support, speak confidentially to an attorney counselor at the OAAP.
Step 3: Getting Your Finances in Order
Beyond the insight and tips available in Money Matters, you will find excellent advice in this recent post by Sheila May: Managing Personal Finances During Periods of Unemployment and Underemployment. Ms. May is a CPA specializing in forensic accounting and litigation support in Scituate, Massachusetts.
Step 4: Additional Tips for Solos and Small Firm Practitioners
If you are a solo or small firm practitioner, add the following Business Essentials to your financial toolkit:
- Business Plan
- Mission Statement
- Financial Plan
Do your homework on law firm economics and learn to avoid the pitfalls that lead to non-paying clients. Details are available in this OSB Bulletin article.
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