Kindness, compassion and love in the legal profession
“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are” ― Anaïs Nin
I couldn’t possibly do justice to the rubric to this post. It’s simply too big a space for me to hold.
But, I can express a few words on what the profession might wish to consider if it’s going to continue to prosper — not grow.
- Each partner needs to ask what’s enough:
- Enough money?
- Enough prestige?
- Enough glory?
- Enough tension?
- Enough of losing their souls for client work?
- Enough grief in not being true to who they are (if they even know)?
- If lawyers are only in the game for money, they should get out. The profession is too precious to be left to market forces.
- Wellbeing is much deeper than another faux productivity tool, i.e. mindfulness.
- AI is a threat but the bigger one is those lawyers that fall out of love with their job.
- A safe space is a prerequisite to finding out what’s really going on.
- The hourly billing model is dead not just because I say so but clients don’t want it. This may not relate directly to kindness etc. but it’s the cause of the majority of ‘wellness’ issues.
- Kindness is not just about saying “Thank you”, it’s about letting go of your prejudices and not seeing everyone or everything as either a threat or opportunity.
- People are not machines. Yes, they might be able to crank out 100+ hour work weeks but it never lasts. Something ALWAYS breaks.
- Lawyers serve. But they’re only able to do that if they know who they are. In my view, the more they hide behind a label the less likely they’re willing to show up — fully present.
- Private practice could learn a lot from the Third Sector. If firms are willing to fight for a cause then it makes them more real. Pro bono — sure — but don’t let that become another faux marketing tool.
- The collateral damage in law is immense — family, friends and relationships. Don’t ignore it.
- Mental health issues abound. Don’t assume anything. Lead with love, compassion and tenderness.
- Shadow work is not a sign of weakness. If you view it that way then you’re part of the problem — a big part.
- Understand your ‘Why’. If you don’t have one, then create one now. And no, making great gobs of money isn’t a Why. It’s a result. Always a result.
But in the end, if you come to legal practice with a closed heart, you won’t change. Sure, you can hang on in there until retirement (the big payday), but I can tell you now that the longer you leave it the more likely it is you’ll lose yourself, i.e. true self.
For the record, do I expect anything I say to make a difference? Hell, no! The profession won’t change until it’s faced with its own demise and even then it will play the blame game for all it’s worth.
Trust me, if you value your life you’ve no choice but to embrace a different paradigm to the one that keeps so many of my brethren trapped within the confines of their own making.
See you on the other side.