When you went to law school, I am sure you never thought that how you lawyer would have the possibility to shift culture.
Maybe you haven’t even given it any thought since then either, and this will be the first time you are considering that the way you lawyer could shift culture and why that might be important.
Most of us go to law school because we want the security of a well-paying job, or the prestige of being part of the well-respected professional class, or because we simply didn’t know what else to do with our lives and law school seemed like a good idea.
Maybe, you went to law school because you really wanted to help.
And now, you are a lawyer, in the real world, discovering that it doesn’t really matter why you went to law school, you’ve got to figure out how to use your law degree (likely the biggest investment of your life to this point) to support a life worth living.
Perhaps you are just discovering the all too sad reality that most lawyers hate their jobs, and you’ve been hating yours for a while now too. And, for many lawyers, practicing law the way we’ve been taught to do it is even driving us crazy.
I remember a lawyer who came into our Personal Family Lawyer program years ago and he told us the story of why he joined us.
He had been filing some interrogatories to be answered by opposing counsel in a litigation matter and after calculating when they would be due, he found himself pumping his fist in the air with glee as he realized he would be forcing his opposition to work through Christmas.
But half-way through that fist bump it dawned on him, he had become a person who celebrates ruining someone else’s Christmas. This was not the man he wanted to be. And he began the process of transitioning into a lawyer who serves life, rather than destroys it.
So back to the question, can “how you lawyer” shift culture and why would that be important to you?
First, let me make the case about why it might be important to you to shift the culture of your community through lawyering.
Then, we can talk about how you can do so, once you’ve decided it’s worth your time and focus.
Lawyers get a bad rap. Most people are scared to come in to see you, even if you are one of the good one’s. And, for the most part, from what I’ve personally seen out there, they should be afraid.
Our current, traditional, bill by the hour, business model intrinsically incentivizes most lawyers to escalate conflict.
A friend of mine recently shared with me the terrifying details of her parents’ 14-year divorce. By the time it was resolved, the lawyers for both sides retired on what they had earned by continuously escalating the conflict between her parents.
How would her life have been different if her parents had hired lawyers who were trained to up-level culture in their community instead of intensify the conflict?
Most business lawyers are known as deal killers, not deal makers. We’ve been indoctrinated to look for what won’t work in a transaction, to find the risks, and to make sure our clients’ know about them.
What if we came at things from a different perspective and were focused on helping our clients make better deals (for themselves and the whole transaction), get creative, and create more of what we’d like to see in the world, while recognizing that a win/win transaction mitigates risk better than any type of a win/lose paradigm ever could?
Unfortunately, most lawyers are the worst employers. We are perfectionist, controlling, and so hard on ourselves, that we often take that out on the people who work for us. All while thinking that the people who work our offices should feel lucky to be employed. Often, they don’t.
Entrenched conflict. Long hours. Adversarial interactions with our team. No wonder most lawyers don’t like what they do, and most clients only come to see us if they feel backed into a corner with no other choice.
Now, let’s look at the alternative. It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can choose to create something totally different with your law practice. You could, if you wanted to, choose to use your law degree and your law practice to shift the culture in your community altogether.
What might that look like?
It might look like a law practice where you are known for creative, outside the box, win-win solutions for the people you serve.
It might look like a law practice where you host events that are community gatherings to consider new possibilities for working together, living together, and creating more together.
It might look like a law practice where when people walk in the door of your office they say to themselves, and often out loud (and then to their friends and family), that was the best experience I’ve ever had with a lawyer. I didn’t know going to see a lawyer could feel that way.
It might look like a law practice where you are the trusted advisor for the community.
It might look like a law practice that is focused more on giving than on getting.
It might look like a law practice where billable hours are reserved for when the Court requires it, and everything else is focused on value-based outcomes, flat fees, where everything is agreed to in advance and you never send out an invoice.
It might look like a law practice that feels like public interest, but earns you the kind of money you’d expect in private practice, and that actually works for you and your clients.
It might look like a law practice where the people who work there (including you) are excited to come to work everyday, mission-oriented, focused on providing tremendous value, new paradigm life and business structures, and creating more resolution.
It might even look like a law practice where when people meet you, they give you the biggest compliment you could possibly receive … “you don’t seem like a lawyer.”
Would you love to have a law practice like this? Find out how…