Thinking like a lawyer may be harmful to your law practice


My wife gets frustrated when I answer her questions with questions. Or when she asks for my opinion about something and I am non-committal.

Why am I like that?

Because I’m a lawyer. Lawyers are trained (and pre-disposed) to question things. To look at both sides. Weigh the consequences.

We can’t help it. “On the other hand. . .” is hard wired into brains.

Thinking like a lawyer protects us and our clients. It avoids harm. If something bad happens, it minimizes damages.

But while thinking like a lawyer may be a necessary competent of being a lawyer, it can hinder the growth and profitability of our practice.

Lawyers usually have a difficult time making decisions. All that weighing and “on-the-other-hand”-ing keeps us in a form of stasis. When it comes to making decisions about hiring, delegating, marketing, and managing our practice, we often make no decision.

But making no decision is a decision–a decision to maintain status quo.

A law practice, like a living creature, is either growing or dying. If you are not growing, if your practice is the same today as it was a year ago and you do nothing to change that, eventually your practice will die.

Change is an essential component of life, and change occurs because of your decisions. Stephen Covey said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

If you have difficulty making decisions and you want to change this, the first thing you should do is to decide to change this.

Paradoxical, I know.

Start by lying to yourself. Tell yourself that you have decided to get better (and faster) at making decisions, even if this is not true. You don’t have to tell yourself that you are a good decision maker, just that you have decided to get better.

Get comfortable with the idea. Let it rumble around inside your brain. Write it down if you are brave.

Your subconscious mind won’t know it’s not true–it believes what you tell it. And your Reticular Activating System (RAS), the part of your brain that filters stimuli based on your beliefs and desires, will get to work on your behalf.

First, your RAS will filter out stimuli that contradicts the notion of you being better (and faster) at making decisions. It will hide or downplay memories of situations where you have had trouble making decisions.

Second, your RAS will allow in more stimuli that is consistent with the new you. It will call your attention to situations where you have made good decisions or fast decisions, and it will infuse those thoughts with positive emotions.

Your RAS will also help you find ways to get better at decision making. It might make you notice an article or book that can help. It might make you recall someone you met who is good at making decisions quickly, prompting you to speak to them.

If you have been having trouble making decisions about a specific topic, creating or improving your website and online marketing for example, your RAS will help you get additional information about that subject so that making decisions gets easier.

If you want to get better at making decisions, you can. But only if you decide you can.

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