When was the last time you did something unique or remarkable in professional practice?
In my experience, solicitors are incredibly risk averse, and are happiest when they are able to hide behind a self-erected wall, which is focused around their (largely) egocentric viewpoint of the profession and their roll within it.
Undoubtedly, the fear of being sued for stepping over a sometimes hazy, “Am I qualified to advise” line has been a sobering thought for many; but the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of practising defensive law. This has meant solicitors very often resemble a soulless version of their true selves.
Fear of Change
“[The] Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: Franklin D Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address
Solicitors have been conditioned to accept the status quo. In many cases they don’t want to change for having to confront and face down their demons.
One of the most startling aspects to private practice is that a lot of solicitors have difficulty interacting with people. They complain about being trapped in the office but this is nearly always self-imposed. It may be taking the point too far to say that they have poor social skills, but once they have had ascribed the label “Grinder” this somehow legitimises their behaviour. And worse still their self-limiting fears are not confronted and dealt with.
If solicitors are going to maximise their full potential, do the best work and work with the best clients then they need to get comfortable with change.
If there is an issues with communication, technology or business development then it needs to be spoken about openly and not in the full gaze of an appraisal. A gradual process of change needs to be explored where trust is built between the partner/line manager. The complete list of issues which vary often masks the real problem (lack of fee earner performance is invariably linked to a bigger problem) has to be written down, and some of the options to deal with these are:
4. Reading non law books;
5. Watching videos or listening to MP3 downloads;
6. Shadowing a more experienced person;
7. If necessary working to a script.
The point is that if solicitors are not prepared to confront the *real* issue then all that is doing is storing up problems which ultimately will lead to poor performance, frustration and demotivation.
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