The following note is prompted by the comments of Susan Cartier Liebel of Solo Practice University® and her post about Kimberly, a young mother who just gave birth to her third child and was a 3L law student at Stetson. She became ill but failed to go to a doctor to address her own health. She was busy with her family and "stuff."
This is for all of you out there whether lawyer or law student, mother or father, who puts
themselves last. You put off going to the doctor for that chronic cough while you rush your child to the pediatrician for a hang nail. You eat your cold dinner out of a jar standing up and talking on the phone while you make sure your child’s meal is hot and she’s seated lest she choke on her food. You do so because ‘you can handle it’. Well, here’s the truth. You can’t.
You can’t care for your kids or your spouse if you break down physically. You can’t care for your clients if you don’t take time to reinvigorate and refresh. Remember the airline admonition: Put your air mask on first and then help your child and others around you. None of us are superhuman or immortal. There is nothing more important than your health, no final, no brief, no exam, no trial, no event. Remember this the next time you get no sleep or ignore that persistent cough or inexplicable pain in your side because ‘you don’t have time’ to slow down. Remember you can break down, too. No machine and certainly no human can work without stop and without repair from time to time.
The ABA likes to believe that its ethics opinions carry the weight of law. If that be the case, and if ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating the law, how can one know the law if it's not disclosed? That would be like saying that 35 miles per hour is the maximum speed limit, but not telling anyone about the limit. In fact, speed limits are written into the Vehicle Code and posted on the streets. Shouldn't there be the same disclosure required of the ABA?
By attempting to copyright its opinions, and thereby restricting their distribution, it seems the ABA doesn't think so. But, then, I guess the ABA is "super" law. See more.
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Alan Weiss, a noted consultant (and my coach) said today: "... I've never seen happy customers when there are unhappy employees (either naturally unhappy or angry at the employer). I have seen happy employees and unhappy customers (no supervision, lazy, entitled). Always hire enthusiasm, you can teach the content.(emphasis added) ... And make sure you demonstrate within the business the behavior you'd like to see bestowed on the customer. .."
Another way of saying this is what I've always preached: Hire for work ethic; hire someone who is passionate about their work, about making a contribution to the organization. and about focusing on the client, not themselves. The rest can be taught. Skills can be taught, attitude cannot.
It didn’t take all that long ... I received in the mail today, along with more holiday greeting cards, an errors & omissions insurance policy application. Finally, the insurance industry is showing its true colors in the recent campaign to have uninsured lawyers painted with the “yellow band” brush.
The cover letter for the application says, in bold print: “The Rules in California are Changing” and continues to talk about new Rule 3-410, effective January 1, 2010, to the effect that lawyers must disclose to clients in writing that they do not have E & O insurance coverage. The obvious ploy here is to scare lawyers into buying malpractice insurance.
How much more premium money will carriers earn from this new rule? And how much client defections will 20% of the California Bar suffer as a result of the inadequate measure recently adopted by the California Board of Governors and approved by the State Supreme Court? I suspect enough to have made the insurance industry’s efforts worth their while.
As though the bad economy hasn't hurt the sole and small firm practitioners enough this year, the Bar throws more oil on the fire by either causing this group's expenses to increase (to the obvious delight of the insurance industry) or its revenue to decrease. Either way makes this generally economically marginal group's life more precarious ...
I competed in two events at the Senior Olympics held this week in Los Angeles. I previously reported my results. I've been thinking further about the process of the competition and came up with ideas about how the competition relates to my life, and the lives of many people in our profession. Below is how I see the Senior Olympics on the one hand and how they are a metaphor in real life. If you have other events in your life that you care to share, please write me.
I would love to present the following in a graphic format but am technologically challened to do that. So, the presentation is linear. And SO means Senior Olympics and MIRL means Metaphor in Real Life.
Rode to the site of the Senior Olympics on the Sunday before the event to make sure I wouldn’t get lost on the day of the first event
Metaphor in real life
Asked my father to drive me to and around both junior and senior high school; my daughter asked me to go with her when she scouted her ultimate college choice
I rode the course before the day of the event to check it out, to determine where the inclines and curves were, to determine the benchmarks before reaching both the 5K and 10K points, and to get an idea of what my time would be on this course, a course I had never ridden before, so that I would know when my last hard push on the course should start.
A client of mine asked me to detail what the litigation process was like, what he should expect at each stage of the process and what would be the likely outcome. He needed to reduce the element of surprise and have an idea of the process since he had never been involved with the legal system before.
On the day of the event, I made sure I was early so that I could warm up sufficiently, ride the course more than once and determine if any new obstacles would impact me, as well as appropriately deal with any calls of nature. Because I was early, I had time to talk to a coach who provided me invaluable information about how to approach the race; his advice enabled me to achieve my best time ever.
My wife is always early. When she gives me a departure time, I know to advance that by at least 15 minutes. When you know what to expect, you are less likely to be subject to unwanted surprise ... and when you do arrive early, you can network with other people and learn from them.
This experience also confirmed once again the invaluable assistance a good coach provides to lawyers who want to reach their goals, to people who want to more than just show up in life.
Having completed my event, I left. I began to focus on the next goal: recuperating, and then looking at the next event on the following day
Having achieved one goal, it’s important to reward yourself, look at your success and move on to your next goal, whether it had already been stated or is created because of your recent accomplishment. This process and working with a coach is a lifetime process ... it does not end just because you achieved your first goal. Life is holistic, a complete life that includes work, play, family, personal achievements and all else that we call living. And a coach can help make important segments that much more effective and rewarding.
I arrived again the following day for the next event. I was a little later than the previous day because I felt more confident that I knew the protocol. But, I was still early. And, I had another conversation with a second coach about this day’s race. He gave me a different “spin” on how to approach the race, in effect telling me that my day’s effort should exceed twice my first day’s result. I thought he was crazy, but listened to his experience. And, though it is still counter-intuitive to me since I didn’t think I could produce two extreme efforts, back to back, on the second day, I went onto the course with two objectives, not one. The first objective was to beat my previous day’s best. The second objective was to ride a time that was less than twice my previous day’s effort. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to achieve the first goal and I thought the second goal was a pipedream ... But, because of the coach and some encouragement from a third person, I achieved both goals!
A Coach can help shape our thinking. Positive, constructive support always helps us improve our performance, whether we’re a child receiving advice from a parent or teacher, or a lawyer working with a coach knowledgeable in the process of law practice management. I believe in the coaching process so much that it is not only my profession, but I engage my own coach. And his wisdom and teachings have made a huge and positive impact on my life.