Do you love your work?


For many lawyers, the answer is no. The thrill is gone and if they could, they’d do something else. 

But what? 

I don’t know. But I do know there’s an answer. Something you can do that allows you to use your skills and interests and pays you as much—or more. Something gratifying and “just right” for you.

Ready for some good news? You might be a lot closer than you think. 

Before you decide to jump ship in search of work you love, what if you could stay where you are and simply stop doing work you hate? 

Yes, it’s possible.

Start by making a list. What do you hate about your career or practice? Daily tasks, responsibilities, rules, people, costs, lack of time, lack of fun—everything. Don’t hold back. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. 

Feels good to vent, doesn’t it? It’s practical, too, because acknowledging what you don’t want is the first step towards getting what you do want.  

But first, another list. This should be a list of everything you like about your work. 

Think about a typical day or week, see yourself doing what you do, and write down the things you’re good at and enjoy. 

You might realize that there’s more good than you thought. More good than bad. And gain some perspective you didn’t have before.

You might appreciate the good things, the good people, the positive you do to help others. You might feel a lot better about everything and if so, that alone has made this exercise worthwhile.

But there are still bad things, right? What do you do about those? 

Make another list. Think about the things that cause you pain, the things you’d like to eliminate or fix. And then, brainstorm possible solutions. 

Start with the big things—your practice area(s), partners, clients, markets, and your marketing methods. Changing one of these could make a huge difference. It could provide you with the career and work you’ve previously thought missing.

Then, look at the other things you do. Your workflow and resources might need a refresh. What would you change about how you handle cases or create work product? What would you delegate or outsource if you could?

Pretend you have a magic wand and could eliminate or change anything. What would it be?

If you had more employees, or fewer? Bigger clients or more of them? Shorter hours, a simpler schedule, or a few new ways to bring in more business?

You might not have the complete solution, but you’ve got a place to start. And realize that you’re a lot closer to doing the work you love.


Want vs. Need


You want that cool task management app that does “everything”. But you don’t need it. You need a piece of paper and a pen. Or the free app that comes on your device. 

You may want a lot of things you don’t need. If you can afford them and they give you a benefit, why not? 

But ask yourself why you want it. 

Will it make you more productive? Help you earn more? Save time? Give you a harmless way to distract yourself from long hours of work? 

Is it fun? You’re entitled to have fun, you know. 

It’s okay to buy things or do things you want but don’t need. You don’t need a reason. 

And neither do your clients. 

A client may need your basic service but want your deluxe package. Give it to them.

People want things they don’t need and their reasons are their reasons. They might want convenience, to feel safer, or feel more important. 

If they want to give you more money, let them. 

On the other hand, be prepared to give them what they need when they can’t afford what they want. 

Make sure they get what they need, but if you really want to make them happy, give them what they want. 

That goes for you, too. 


Help me help them


You never look better than when you’re helping others. I’m not talking about getting paid for your services, I’m talking about using your legal and business skills, your list of contacts, your creativity, your time, your money, and your reputation, to help people who need help. 

It’s a good thing to do, and a good way to build your practice. 

This might mean doing pro bono legal work, organizing a fundraiser, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or sponsoring (or playing in) a charitable golf tournament. You don’t have to be the organizer of the event. You can do a lot of good by participating in their events and otherwise supporting their cause.

Promote their organization or event in your newsletter, on your website, and on your social media channels. Interview the leaders and write articles about their work and their cause. Speak at their events, buy space in their publications, volunteer for their committees, and introduce them to people who are also willing to help.  

There’s always something you can do and whatever you do will be noticed and appreciated. 

Will it also be rewarded? Can you do well by doing good? 

You know that’s true. But in case you need a reminder, consider that, if nothing else, your clients and contacts will see or hear about your efforts and see you in a positive light. How do you tell them what you’re doing? By asking them to join you.  

Also consider that supporting these good causes will allow you to meet a lot of influential people in your target market or community. People who can hire you, send you referrals, and introduce you to other professionals and industry leaders who can do the same. 

Promoting a cause also gives you a great “excuse” to contact people you would like to know and enlist their support. 

Of course, the primary reason you do any of this isn’t for marketing. It’s because it makes you feel good to help people who need help. But keep in mind that the more your practice grows, the more people you’ll be able to help.


Your best marketing investment


Your clients can fire you at any time and for any reason. And they might. Today could be the day they say Sayonara. And tell everyone they know that you’re a bum.

You need to be on your toes. Never take your clients for granted. Follow up like crazy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Not just to protect yourself, but because client retention is the key to long-term success. 

Getting new clients is profitable. Keeping clients is far more profitable because it creates equity in your future.

It starts with how you think about marketing in general, and clients in particular. Think “clients,” not “cases”. “Relationships” not “transactions”. 

Cases are a one-time thing. Clients are for life. At least that’s how you should look at them and why you should continue to invest in your client relationships. 

You began investing when you attracted them, helped them believe in a better future, and worked hard to deliver. In return, they gave you their trust, and as long as you don’t do anything to lose it, will reward you with repeat business, referrals, introductions, and positive reviews.

As a result, you won’t have to scramble to find clients, spend a fortune on ads, or do things you don’t want to do.

When you invest in your clients, you invest in your future.


How was your day?


I didn’t do much work yesterday. I meditated, wrote a blog post, took a walk, helped my wife set up a cabinet, watched a couple of videos (and took notes), read a few pages in a book, and not much else.

Because I didn’t feel like doing anything else.  

Some call this being lazy. You won’t get anything done if you don’t do the work, whether you feel like it or not. Breaks are for after work, weekends, and vacations, not when you feel like it. Get more sleep if you need more energy. Stop goofing off. 

Conventional “wisdom”. 

But not everyone agrees. 

Some describe this as an effective way to structure your time. It’s “nonlinear,” meaning flexible and in sync with what your body and brain tell you. If you’re getting things done, it doesn’t matter how or when you do them. 

9 to 5 is for suckers. 

According to one study, people with the highest “brain health scores,” which include memory, focus, sleep, mood, productivity, and creativity, are those who follow a flexible schedule. 

Yes, I know this isn’t conducive to trial work or being available to see clients when clients need to be seen, but even the busiest of lawyers can work around those limitations, at least some of the time. 

And they should. Because, according to the study, not only is this better for your brain, it’s a better predictor of overall happiness. 

And I’ll take happiness any day of the week. 


Your life’s purpose


According to Wikipedia, Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese word that roughly translates as ‘a reason for being’ or ‘life’s purpose’. It’s similar to the French term “raison d’être” or “reason for being.”

It’s also been described as the secret to a long and happy life.

According to this article, you can find your Ikigai by answering 4 questions and seeing where the answers intersect:

1. What are you good at?

2. What do you love?

3. What does the world need?

4. What can you get paid for?

I thought this was an interesting exercise for someone starting out in life or thinking about a career change, but find it also helpful for those of us who have been around a while and have found our path.

Answer these questions and see what you think.

You might find that you’re right where you need to be, doing work you love and are well paid to do, or realize there’s something else you’re good at and would enjoy even better.

You also might give yourself permission to spend more time on a project or side business that ticks all the boxes, until you can make it the next chapter in your life.


MVTs vs. MITs


You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Or so we’re told.

We’re also told we should prioritize our day by importance, meaning tasks that contribute to meeting our responsibilities and achieving our goals.

Which is why we’re advised to put our MITs (Most Important Tasks) at the top of our list.

Generally, I agree with this and prioritize that way. But I just heard about a slightly different method.

Prioritize by value instead of importance. Put our MVTs (Most Valuable Tasks) at the top of our list instead of our MITs.

What’s the difference?

Our most important tasks are often determined by urgency—deadlines, due dates, promises we made—and focus on the short-term. They solve an immediate problem or meet an immediate desire.

These are clearly important. And valuable. But they don’t necessarily deliver the most value.

What does?

Spending time with loved ones, taking care of our mind and body, our faith, our friendships, and other things that give us joy.

Building our reputation and career. Building relationships with clients and professional contacts.

Long-term, at least, these are more valuable than the boxes we tick off day to day.

We need to prioritize and make time for them.

Tomorrow, when you prioritize your list for the day, prioritize your MITs, but not at the expense of your MVTs.


Better than digging ditches


A lot of lawyers love what they do. A lot don’t. A lot of the ones who don’t love it (or like it) do it because they make a decent living and don’t know what else to do.

If you find yourself in the latter group, if you’re okay with the job but aren’t passionate about it, one thing you might do is let go of the need to love everything and focus on the parts you do.

Love the money? That’s fine. Love helping people? Great. Love being able to use your brain and not get your hands dirty? That’s a win in my book.

But what about the things you really don’t like but feel you have to do?

You have a choice. You can find other ways to get the job done. Change your practice area, market, or clients. Change your marketing methods. Change your worklows and habits. Delegate the work you don’t like or aren’t good at.

Your other option is to change your mindset. How you feel and think about what you do. Maybe you don’t want partners or employees, but maybe you could make that work.

Reframe the boring parts or cringy parts by seeing them as a small but necessary means to an end. An end you truly want and are willing to make sacrifices to get.

And then focus on the things you do love and do more of them.

There will always be parts of the job you don’t like. You might not like getting up early, fighting through traffic, and arguing with people all day.

But some things are worth it.


Don’t let your daddy take your T-bird away


Is practicing law fun for you? Do you enjoy what you do and look forward to coming to work every day?

My guess? You like some things, but not everything. Sometimes, you can’t believe you get paid to do what you do; other times, you think you should have your head examined.

That’s life.

Hey, if everything was easy as pie and your days were filled with nothing but sunshine and lollipops, you probably should have your head examined because you’re living in the real world.

There are good parts and bad parts to being a lawyer (or any occupation) and they go together. You can’t have one without the other.

Problems, challenges, disappointments, losses—they’re part of the deal. You can’t change that. Nor should you try because your very existence depends on it. People don’t hire lawyers when everything is hunky dory.

But one thing you can do, should do, is to have more good days and good moments than bad ones.

Because if you don’t, why bother? Do something else with your life.

Okay, let’s assume you’re going to stay. Now what?

Now you focus on the good things. The wins, the big paydays, the smiles on the faces of the people you help.

Focus on the fun.

Because what you focus on grows.

You want more good times? Think about the good times you already have.

Start by taking inventory. Make a list of what you like about your job. What do you appreciate? What do you love?

Write them down. And, as good things happen, write those down too (in six-minute increments—because that’s fun, isn’t it?)

Find the joy in what you do and you’ll get more of it.


Playing hooky


Fun times. Skipping school, going to the movies, eating junk food, goofing off—with nobody around to tell you what to do.


What? You never did that? You should have. Everyone should do it once in a while, even big kids like us.

Hey, how about tomorrow? Take the day off and do something non-billable.

I know, you’re busy. Do it anyway. It’s good for you.

The work will be there when you come back. If it won’t, because you don’t have enough work right now, then you really need to play hooky, but instead of going to the movies, write your own movie—a visionary tale of your future.

What do you want that future to look like?

This is your movie. You are the writer, producer, director, and star. Write the movie of your future the way you want it to be.

Don’t hold back. This is a fantasy, not a drama, and you can be, do, or have anything.

Set your movie 5 years from today. Are you still practicing or have you moved on to something else?

Where do you work? What are your hours? Who do you work with, or for? Do you have people working for you? How many? What do they do?

Do you do client work? Handle cases? What type? How big? How many? Or do you do corporate work? For what kinds of clients?

Speaking of clients, how do you get new ones? What marketing strategies do you use? How much revenue do you produce? How much do you net?

What does a typical day look like? What time do you start work? How many appointments do you have? What do you do all day?

Do you do all the legal work? Some of it? None of it?

Do you spend your day writing? Seeing clients? Negotiating deals? Supervising your team?

In this movie, anything is possible. Anything. No matter what your current situation, level of experience, resources, or lack thereof. Pretend you have a magic wand and when you wave it, your dream comes true.

If you’re a little too linear in your thinking and find it difficult to imagine your ideal, think about someone who has what you want and use their life as a model for your own.

Okay, you have a picture. How does that feel?

If it feels good, you’re doing it right. If you have doubts or fears or any negative feelings at all, something’s not right. Get out your magic wand and make it right.

Okay, yes, there is a point to this exercise. Actually, two points.

The first is to help you decide what you want, something we don’t always allow ourselves to do. We usually let our current reality tell us what’s possible, but that’s what is, not what could be..

If you’re happy with all aspects of your current reality, great. But if you want something different, let your imagination tell you what that is.

Which leads to the second point to doing this exercise—to help you create a plan of action. A list of what you need to learn, acquire, change, or do.

A mighty list, wouldn’t you say? Worth taking the day off to create.

Nicely done. Now, choose something from your list and get to work.

How to grow bigger, faster