Playing your legal career by the numbers (always?)

I have been banging on about my message for nearly 2 years.

“Soft is Hard; Hard is Soft.”

Tom Peters

But still the numbers predominate the argument.

This is where it is at

Service.

Client fulfilment.

Value.

Actions talk louder.

Passion.

Commitment.

In service to the client.

Servant leadership.

Niceties of the small and trivial kind.

Thinking at the limits of your existence.

Entrepreneurship: working on the business and not in the business.

Envisioning a better future.

Sucking down.

Instead, what do I find?

Lots of heads in the (quick)sand. Actually, more like the proverbial headless chicken that cries out for the answer.

The trouble is that there is a mis-match between the love of the law, and the business of law. One connotes an exhaustive, investigative approach. The other: “How much can I make out of this job?”

The simplest thing for lawyers to do is to follow orders. Frankly, for most, even though they are living as second class citizens of their true self, it is much, much easier to pursue this line (of least resistance) than it is to put up a fight and push back against the (billing) machine.

The thing is if I hadn’t endured so many years of doing it, I wouldn’t have believed that lawyers were ensconced in an atmosphere where their billing prowess was superior to any attempt to think outside of the box.

Lawyers apply and interpret the law very well. They can tell you what is the likely outcome without being, perhaps, as certain as they would like. And that is fine where all you need is an interpretative answer. But in the majority of cases you wan’t to stretch the bounds of possibility and many clients, if prompted, would be prepared to take some risk – either on the battlefield of litigation or the private client arena.

Trouble is, though, they cannot get their legal advisor to commit.

To commit to:

1) Something removed than what’s in it for me;

2) Something that doesn’t give rise to a tidy little earn out; and

3) Something different to what they have seen before.

If lawyers want to grow in stature then, without exception, they have to change. In particular, they have to throw off the notion that clients only see them in a one-dimensional way. This is not some didactic on the retainer but rather an invitation for you to start being more open, approachable and having a proclivity to truly understand your client’s needs, rather than sticking, always, to the script.

As the late Jim Rohn pleaded with us all: “If you want to become more, you have to want more.” And the truth of it is that you are happy with the status quo. It makes sense: billing, salary and benefits. But where does it take you in the short term?

Down a never ending but limiting rabbit hole.

The vision for a better future must dictate your actions…

Oh yes and that means doing less for more, getting close to your clients and falling in love with your work.

If you can’t change, then you might as well think of a factory because, in time, if not now, that is exactly what you are being programmed for. An endless cycle of billing.

Did you really study law to end up as a cubicle slave?

If the answer is yes, then stop complaining and accept your fate.

However, I don’t believe that you see yourself in this way. You are not limited by the past but only the opportunity that stretches before you.

Think change.

Think growth.

And think of the real you.

But don’t, whatever you do, settle for now.

Leave a Reply