Lawyer Long Hours
Are Danger to Health
Sean Quinn*
          Several massive, at least
quasi-scientific, and therefore more-or-less reliable studies, indicate that
long work hours increase the risk of stroke. 
Since my brother, a paradigmatic workaholic suffered from a stroke a few
years ago. I thought I might pass on the bad news.
          Brother “Job” (not his real name) was
work obsessed; he was an addict of sorts, though in more than one way. It has
to be confessed to me that he was a hard charger about what some might called a hobby, as
          In any case, the studies were general
and did not focus on lawyers. Nevertheless, they indicated that in comparison
to someone who works 35-40 hours a week, someone who works 41-48 hours a week
has a 10% increase in having a stroke; 49-54 hours = 27%  increase; and 55-65  = 33% increase.
          There are problems with these studies.
First, it is not clear how lawyers in particular fit into the
stats. Second, many lawyer fit into the 55-65 hours a week category, but this
is not verified, at least not for me.
Third, the report of the study I have seen—admittedly a press
presentation—does not make it clear how long the excess hours must continue
before the risk of stroke increases.
Fourth, the report also does not indicate whether the
increase in stroke increased during the time of working excessively or whether
it continues thereafter, and if it keeps going, for how long does it do it, and
what are the statistical differences as time goes by.
          Finally, percentages don’t mean much
if one does not know the base line. For example, if there is a one third
increase in the number of persons who will suffer a stroke and the base line is
3 in 10,000, then a one third in the number of people per 10,000 would be 4.
But what it is 1 in every 10,000, and there is a one third increase, then what
would the number?  Obviously, it is not
going to be 1 1/3.
          Those in charge of the study suggest
that risk reduction, aside from reducing the number of work hours, if more
standing up and more exercise. (My other brother and our father was a dedicated
golfer, and he lived until into his 90s. (No data suggests that golfing causes strokes, though good golf reduces strokes. This is true virtually by definition. Some people love jokes based upon ambiguity.) 
I would guess that more sleep should
also be included in what mitigates the probability of sustaining a stroke. (In golf strokes are not inflicted or sustained, of course.)
          Now for a paradox.  Longevity to some extent is statistically
tied to having wisdom.  Wisdom is how-to
tacit knowledge, and that is to some extent taught by mentorship, doing it
yourself, and independent studies. Some experienced lawyers have wisdom about
the practice of law and some do not.  The
acquisition of lawyerly wisdom taken an enormous amount of time and it is hard
work to get it.  How does this fact fit
with—or stack up against—the conclusion of the study being discussed here.  I for one would like to know this: What is
the live span of the lawyer with “practice wisdom”? How does it compare with
the life span of other groups? How are the number in the study affected if the
lawyer is well loved and good at loving?

What about a lawyer addicted to heavy-duty multiple “partner”
sexual pursuit?  I would be that this
kind of effort should be included in the hour count.  Thus, if a male lawyer works 40 hours a week
and spends another 20 chasing you-know-what, his risk of stroke increases by
more than a third.

*Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D., J.D.
The Law Firm of Michael Sean Quinn et
Quinn and Quinn
                                 1300 West Lynn Street, Suite 208
                                             Austin, Texas 78703
                                                 (512) 296-2594
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