‘Murphy’s Law,’ or How an Aphorism Can Sum Up the Legal Mind


By Erna Womble

In the legal profession, we’re trained to envision and prepare for worst case scenarios. We devote significant time and mental resources to thinking about catastrophic outcomes. But how do we balance this often necessary professional mentality with our daily lives?

I had a mild epiphany the other day when I found myself prefacing an email to a fellow lawyer with the words “unless Murphy’s Law has prevailed…”

Murphy’s Law. The idea that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. (Or, if you’d rather hear Matthew McConaughey’s slightly more optimistic take on it, click here. But I digress.)

It wasn’t intentional on my part, but in acknowledging the prevalence of Murphy’s Law, I realized that I had snagged a common thread that runs through most legal minds. Perhaps many lawyers and judges, regardless of their natural proclivities or personality types, may share a chuckle of recognition at our customary professional pessimism.

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Introducing the NCBA Professional Vitality Committee

By Erna Womble
Welcome to the blog of the newly minted Professional Vitality Committee (PVC) of the NCBA!  I am Erna Womble, and it’s my honor to serve as Chair this year, and my pleasure to say that Holly Morris is serving as our Communities Manager (NCBA staff liaison).

But wait . . . What the dickens,” many of you might ask, is the Professional Vitality Committee?  I knew it as the Professional Wellness Committee, with its sub-group the Transitioning Lawyers Commission, as it was last year.”  Well, that’s a timely question and it will be a privilege to be your tour guide on the exciting journey on which this committee is embarking.

From wellness to vitality

But before we set out, a bit about the re-christening of this committee. Referring to the theme of the Annual Meeting, which centered on Professional Wellness, President LeAnn Nease Brown summed it up with characteristic eloquence:

“We are in a profession of helping others but to help others, we must take care of ourselves. Last year, President Grant combined our committees focusing on Professional Wellness. This year, Erna Womble will chair the committee with a focus on the well-being of legal professionals ­–from the beginning of career to winding down, to retired – not only on the stresses of the profession but on the joys of our life experiences: on living while lawyering. We have renamed the committee the Professional Vitality Committee because vitality is the state of being strong and active; it is the power of enduring, the capacity to live and develop. We celebrate the humanity of our profession, not only as lawyers and legal professionals but as parents and grandparents, musicians and rock climbers, hikers and stamp collectors, painters and poets, dreamers and dancers. Vitality is having the strength in ourselves and our community to have full lives as lawyers. Advancing the well-being of our members and our profession gives us wings.

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