Is self-love possible for lawyers, the most hated professionals on the planet?
“First, let’s kill all the lawyers.” A famous misquote and misinterpretation of a line from Shakespeare pretty much sums up the way most people think of lawyers.
And many lawyers have internalized this hatred.
I know I did.
I was self-critical, judgmental of my every step, and just downright mean inside.
That criticism poured out of me and made life difficult for the team members I hired when I started my own law practice.
I thought I was the best employee ever, but looking back now I can see that I was simply blind.
Sure I was better than the law firm partners I had worked for as a file clerk before law school and as an associate attorney.
But that wasn’t too high of a bar to exceed.
Truth was, I was controlling, demanding, easily frustrated and not very compassionate.
Mostly though because I was all those things within myself.
My friend Kelly Notaras, the founder of KNLiterary, a literary agency, not unlike a law practice, explains it all so well in this recent article.
Self-love is the answer.
But for many of us lawyers, self-love likely feels like some sort of hippie, new-age idea that as Kelly says probably seems “too vague—not to mention a bit trite and even smarmy—to be taken seriously.”
And certainly not something we can put on our to-do lists as we pursue the success we went to law school to create for ourselves.
I remember the first time self-love hit my radar.
I was a young associate at Munger, Tolles and Olson. I had MADE it.
First in my class in law school. A job at the best firm in the country. A 6-figure paycheck.
Cute little house with my name in the deed in Southern California. Check.
I was 28 years old.
I should have been over the moon happy.
I had MADE it. All the way. The American Dream!
And yet I wasn’t happy at all. I was secretly miserable.
Where could I possibly go from here?
Around that time, I attended a talk at my local chamber of commerce.
A woman was there speaking on branding.
I didn’t hear anything she said about branding though. What I heard was how much she loved her life.
She worked from home. With clients she loved. Doing work she was proud of.
And when her son got home from school, she was there.
I wanted that.
That sounded amazing.
It was so far from the reality I was living, serving clients I didn’t care about, commuting 20 miles each way every day in LA traffic.
Gone from 7am-7pm, or even 8pm, every night to get the billable hours in.
So I bought her book, guided by an intuitive hit (I knew nothing about intuition back then, but something said buy her book, so I did) that it would have my answers.
The answers came in the acknowledgements where the author/speaker/branding expert thanked the many people who had helped her along the way.
One of the people she thanked was a coach.
I wondered what that meant.
This was back in the day when coaching was rare. It wasn’t something lawyers did.
And my mind said no way this person, this coach can help you.
You are smarter than her. You graduated first in your class.
And besides it sounds like that costs money.
Even though I was making a 6 figure pay check, I was sure I had no money.
After taxes, insurance, retirement, mortgage, school costs, commuting expenses and daily coffee at Starbucks for my hubby, there was certainly nothing left over for me to hire a coach right?
I called anyway, nervous.
In a future post I’ll share with you what happened and how my experience of life, law practice and self-love was forever altered as a result.
In the meantime, you tell me. Are you mean to yourself, self-critical and judgmental the way Kelly describes in her article?
I sure was. Today, very rarely. The path to get here? Long and winding.
Read part 2 here.
Become a lawyer you love to be!