Making peace with legal practice
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
― Arthur C. Clarke
I’ve come a long way since I first qualified as a solicitor.
But then again, I feel like I’m starting all over again.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I spent six years away from private practice (2010-16), only to return at the beginning of this year with a view to plying my trade.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, particularly given I’d run a firm as CEO for nearly two years, but I (still) held to the belief that service — the sine qua non of law — would win out in the end and not be caught by the usual private practice dogma.
But I was wrong.
And to be absolutely clear, I don’t blame the partnership model nor the mindset that underpins a successful modus operandi.
I blame myself:
I blame myself for not examining what else I might do to marry soul and role.
I blame myself for not looking harder for an outlet for my emotional labour.
I blame myself for not being open to something more than hourly billing etc.
But most of all, I blame myself for not embracing my fear.
You see, like it or not, it’s very hard to escape private practice. I suspect it’s like that for many other professions but your skillset, as I’ve found through a multitude of failed job applications, isn’t suited to much else. I know I could wax lyrical about problem-solving, managing people and the like but it’s no good when you’re trying to break free if only you can see that and not the market.
You might think I’m in whinge mode. I’m not. If anything, I’m in ‘count-my-lucky-stars’ mode; namely, I’m alive and if that’s not something to celebrate then I don’t know what is. Of course, that’s over the top but then again, that sense of aliveness is often what’s carried me through some fairly dark days.
As to where I go from here, I know that my life’s in transition. Law will be in the mix but not, I suspect, private practice, if only because me and it have run their course.
Whatever I do, everything will be fine. I know that’s hackneyed but life’s like that when you stop arguing with what is. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t done some really interesting stuff (and continue to do so). But if there’s a challenge, it’s to find a space where I can help people to the very best of my ability. That could be in the capacity as in-house lawyer (which I’m doing in any event), freelance lawyer, coach, consultant or speaker.
One thing that’s not going away is my utmost faith that when we connect at the deepest level the world looks very different. There’s no ‘this’ or ‘that’. There’s just this — everything and no-thing. And whilst that makes little if no sense in the hurly-burly of commerce and profit-making, one thing that I know for sure is the moment we depart from true self is the moment we struggle both existentially and otherwise.
Over the coming weeks, it’s my intention to pick up where I left off when I first left law in 2010. I won’t this time be talking much about social media but instead life — or rather the version of life we should be living.