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    April 21st, 2008

    ♫ The long and winding road
    that leads to your door
    Will never disappear
    I’ve seen that road before
    It always leads me here
    leads me to your door… ♫

    Words and music: Lennon and McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.

    At some point in the day you pause and look around you. You came into the law to change the world – or you were drawn to the challenge of a new, exciting and meaningful career. You were deeply concerned with social issues and were looking for a way to make an impact. You saw the law as a way to achieve an intellectually satisfying living. Now you find you are dissatisfied, frustrated by the routine and repetitive tasks of day to day lawyering. All too often, success is measured in terms of financial returns – which these days are far too small. The passion that drew you to the law has been replaced by a deeply held cynicism. Enjoyment is sought thru mind-numbing liquid or alternate means. What happened?

    Fortunately if we still have a vestige of our fervour left, then all is not lost. How do we rekindle the enthusiasm, the zeal and the anticipation of our early days in the law? Here is a selection of suggestions to revive our minds and spirit:

    Get energized: Lawyers have a high energy level, yet we tie ourselves down to a desk. Sports, dance, art – all these and other areas offer the ability to tap into and redirect our energy into new and positive directions. First paradox: Burning energy outside of the office invigorates you and increases the energy potential in the office. Get involved.

    Validate: Since law practice is really just one file followed by another, we tend to lose track of the high points along the way. Open a file and keep it at your desk – and keep it populated with examples of your outstanding work. If possible, display examples of your successes on your walls (newspaper reports, thank you letters (with consent), sport photos, race bibs, musical certificates – and other objective indicia of success).

    Show your talents: What are your ideals? Often there are groups that are crying for professional support and help (historical societies, community groups or arts groups, community colleges). Seek out these associations and become an advocate for their causes, a teacher or a member.

    Go for it: Lawyers are oftentimes characterized by high emotional sensitivity (which we hide behind a hippopotamus hide), high levels of self-criticism and poor peer relations (we can’t admit any human failings). We hold ourselves to standards of perfectionism that hold us back from trying new things – things that we cannot instantly master. Recognize that new projects only require effort, enjoyment and enthusiasm! Remember to:

    “Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.” (author unknown)

    Embrace Complexity: Lawyers thrive on complexity and can be bored by the work at hand. Here is the first paradox: Spending time rekindling your passion in life and its positive outlets can generate more energy for you and will result in an affirmative reworking of yourself.

    Help Others: Second paradox: Lawyers have a high altruistic need to contribute, to help out and to make a difference. It has often been said that you cannot help someone else without first helping yourself in the process.

    Create calm: What is your workspace like? Is it filled with ringing telephones, office noise and constant interruptions? Create an “island of calm” around you. Turn down the ringer on the phone. Stop all interruptions for a minimum of 1 hour a day. Close your door. Try music playing in the background. Try concentrating only on one task at a time.

    Seek out others: Lawyers like challenging, successful people. Hunt for these types of people and associate with them. Find a lawyer who is passionate and actively involved in their out-of-the-law interests and take them to lunch. Find a running partner. Build a positive social group. Create the environment of people around you that you need.

    Rediscover the child within: Third paradox: Helping the needs of children can result in great benefits for the adults. Lawyers can be great role models to the younger generation and in turn, can learn a great deal from the younger set.

    Help your partners: Lawyers are very empathic to others. Fourth paradox: Helping your partners achieve greater satisfaction in their lives can result in greater satisfaction in your own life.

    Read: Go and get biographies of exceptional individuals. Often you can see how these people faced difficulties, adversity and setbacks – and oftentimes became successes by simply being the only ones still left in the game. Outlast your setbacks.

    (this post is based on a column originally published in PracticeTalk in the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch’s newsletter BarTalk)

     

    This entry was posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 4:57 am and is filed under Law Firm Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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