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Cognitive Enhancement, Aging Baby Boomers, and the Legal Profession

A quick note to alert you of two very interesting, growing, and somehow linked debates:

1) Very insightful article on The Aging of the Baby Boomers: What Does It Mean for the Legal Profession (thank you, Stephanie!). Some quotes:

– “As I pen this article, it seems as though I’m writing about someone else the older worker. Age and aging, it seems, are in the eye of the one looking back at you in the mirror. I have this theory, especially as it pertains to men, that when we look in the mirror, we still see that 20 year-old stud who can leap tall buildings. But I know that my vertical leap is not what it used to be. The reality of aging in the legal profession is upon me and those of our generation.”

– “Also, the perception of how old is old varies depending on the job or profession. For example, according to one commentator, IT workers are considered old if they have children. Ballet dancers and professional athletes may be considered old in their 20s or 30s; airline pilots in their 50s, and Supreme Court justices in their 80s.”

– “So what does this mean for the legal profession? Are we going to see lawyers and legal staff working into their 70s? Much of what is said about the boomers and retirement applies to our profession as well. However, lawyers also hold a unique and privileged position in society that permits us to retire from active private practice and yet continue to benefit society through public interest or pro bono activities.”

– “Over the next 20 years, the number of lawyers in America over 50 will triple. Many law firms have mandatory retirement ages for partners ranging from 62 to 70. But many lawyers in this age bracket are not ready to retire.”

Comment: the article is excellent, and we are aware of this growing debate in the legal community, having been asked recently to write Ten Important Truths About Aging for a legal publication. A related post, Cognitive Health and Baby Boomers: 6 Points to Keep in Mind, adds more food for thought.

2) Great post asking, Is it “cheating” to take brain-enhancing drugs?, based on a a recent commentary in Nature magazine. There is a growing debate on the ethics, and long-term effectiveness, of cognitive enhancement drugs. In general, we believe it is wise to avoid playing with the biochemistry of our brain unless there are very clear medical purposes and solid evidence, so we will keep focusing our attention on natural cognitive interventions.

For more context on “smart pills” and related topics, you may enjoy reading our review of the book Best of the Brain from Scientific American.

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