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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)

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Thanksgiving 2012

November 21, 2012

Filed under: Current Events — @ 2:41 pm

It’s Thanksgiving again. It’s my favorite holiday of the year. I like it that we use the day to mark the start of a season of good cheer. I also very much like the concept of the holiday — to give thanks for what we have.

As it turns out, it looks —at least according to a couple of recent articles in the Los Angeles Times — that gratitude — and the happiness and peace of mind that comes from it — may help you build a successful business. According to one article, “The Benefits of Gratitude,” “if we developed the discipline to be consciously grateful on a regular basis, research shows we’d be happier and suffer less depression and stress.”

And, according to a second article, “Happiness May Bring You More Money, Study Says,” gratitude, and the happiness you derive from it, might mean that you’ll make more money. Of course, this is inside out from the accepted notion that more money will make you happier!

It sounds as if encouraging my clients and readers to celebrate Thanksgiving — and to take the message of the day seriously — may very well be good coaching on my part.

So, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Let’s think of it as a start to the best year ever for each of us.

The Future of the Law Business

June 6, 2012

Filed under: Current Events,Growing Your Business — @ 1:38 pm

The Wall Street Journal recently published a short article, “Survey Says Post-Recession Shifts are Here to Stay” on its Law Blog. The article is based on the results of a new Altman Weil, Inc. survey, “Law Firms in Transition.” Altman Weil sent questionnaires to the managing partners of large law firms, asking about the partners’ vision of the future of the law. The survey reports on the answers.

The big guys are discouraged. According to the Wall Street Journal, the results of the survey are disheartening, at least to lawyers. The managing partners see, among other things, a future with more price competition, more commoditization of legal services, and more flat price billing. They have less confidence in the future of their businesses.

I find it interesting that Richard Susskind made the same predictions more than four years ago in his book, The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services.

Is it really that ugly? I’m not entirely sure the news is as bad as the Wall Street Journal paints it to be. The law has gotten to be a bloated, ugly profession: a business model based on billable hours encourages inefficiency and client suspicion. I’ve read reports to the effect that most practicing lawyers are not happy. Is it possible the predictions from the survey will prompt positive changes in our industry? I, for one, hope so.

Change is hard, but sometimes necessary. I acknowledge that transition is difficult and uncertainty uncomfortable. But I also know that when I was practicing law, every time I got comfortable with what I was doing, I lost opportunities to improve my business. I think large law firms have made the same mistake.

To be successful businesspeople — and successful lawyers — we have to have the courage to welcome change and to adjust our practices to meet our clients’ needs. And, I believe that if we do so, we’ll still make a good living and that our clients — as well as ourselves — will be happier for it.

Please let me know how this helps you!


November 23, 2011

Filed under: Current Events — @ 8:00 am

It’s Thanksgiving. This may be my favorite holiday. It’s not tied to a particular faith and it’s not particularly commercial. The only people who feel pressure are those who cook (by the way, I’m preparing dinner for thirteen this year) or those who play football.

I also like the concept behind Thanksgiving — giving thanks for what we have.

Yeah, yeah, sure, fine, you say. You may not be so sure you are grateful for the choice you made to be a lawyer. When I was speaking with one attorney the other day, the lawyer described his relationship with the profession as one of “general malaise.”

Lawyering is a hard job. It expects perfection and mastery of a ton of details. You have to communicate complex concepts to people who may or may not want to understand them. If you are a litigator, the role of all the other parties is to throw darts at you, and there’s always a wild card (the judge or the jury) involved.

And, I’m not going to argue with you: being a lawyer and running a business on top of that is really hard.

Believe it or not, there are good things about the law. Let’s think of the good stuff— the things to be thankful for:

  • We can do tremendous things for people. You probably went to law school because you wanted to make a difference. Well, as a lawyer, you do. I think lawyers tend to forget the tremendous difference they can make. With your skills, you can get people out of terrible trouble. A bankruptcy discharge is a liberating thing. How much benefit do you provide to someone by keeping him or her out of jail? Don’t you provide value if you make sure that the right person cares for your client if the client isn’t able to do it?
  • We have self-determination. I didn’t think about this when I went to law school, but being a lawyer provides great self-determination. It’s a profession in which you can be your own boss. You can select the kind of law you want to work in. You can choose the kinds of clients you want to work with. As a general rule, those opportunities are not available in other professions, such as education or engineering.

So, at the risk of sounding Pollyannaish, it seems to me that Thanksgiving is a good time to step back and give thanks for the good things the law has brought to us.

Please let me know how this helps you!