Practicing Law on Your Own Accord

Is starting your own practice something you’ve always been interested in pursuing? Oftentimes, the answer to that question is yes for high performing professionals practicing law. The biggest appeal of having your own practice is the freedom and flexibility it offers. Operating from wherever your heart desires in addition to having complete oversight on the clients that you agree to represent all sound amazing as well but they do come with their trials (pun intended). For many, the initial stresses that accompany starting your own practice are well worth the freedom and flexibility that quickly follows.

If starting your own practice does not peak your interest, all is not lost. There are many ways one can take more control of the way they practice within an established firm. Practicing law on your own terms within a firm might seem like a far-fetched idea, but there are many ways you can squeeze increased flexibility into the work you do. Get into the right circles at the office and start suggesting increased flexibility to serve as a means of alleviating depleted engagement and/or productivity.

Practicing law on your own terms doesn’t just start and end within the office, the relationship with your clients is always another environment that offers opportunity for you to shape the way you practice. It is not uncommon to have cut-off times for when a client can reach you, even attorneys need time to themselves and it is okay to create that time. Granted, the way you navigate your relationship with your client may be subject to a certain degree of oversight depending on the firm. Naturally, staying within these guidelines but do not be afraid to explore the flexibility within them.

We as professionals find it very easy to become borderline obsessive with our careers, rightfully so considering our livelihood is attached to it. However, what is not attached to it is your health and happiness. There will always be things that we have to do that are the opposite of enjoyable, but they should not outweigh the amount of things that you do enjoy doing.

The most important factor in all of this is the fact that taking control of the way you practice allows the real reason why you decided to pursue a career in law to come to the forefront and shine like never before. Whatever passion you have that is tied to practicing law may be drowned in long drawn out work processes that take up more time than the component that you enjoy the most. Every attorney has a different balance when it comes to how they want to practice law, you just have to find yours and lay out a game plan for pursuing the balance that’s best for you.

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The Half-Point Pivot: Switching Law Types Mid-Stride

 

Ever reach a point where you just…hit a wall?

 

We’re speaking metaphorically, of course, but say you’ve been working on a case or in a particular type of law for a while and suddenly you look up and it’s like the Shawshank Redemption—there’s fifteen feet of concrete around you and you’ve got nothing but a rock hammer to chisel your way out.

 

You feel closed in, obstructed, and totally confounded.

And you think to yourself: how the heck did I get here?

More importantly, can I get out?

 

 

Yes, you can. Other people have done it, my friend.

 

Case in point—Brian Clark, founder of Rainmaker Digital (formerly Copyblogger Media).

 

This is a guy who, one day, decided that working as an associate in the bowels of a Big Firm just didn’t work for him.  So, he left said Big Firm and hung out a shingle.

 

A virtual shingle.

 

Clark started writing email newsletters with a legal spin. He focused primarily on real estate, eventually building up a fairly decent following.

 

And from that pool of followers, he picked up a few clients.

 

And then a few more.

 

And before he knew it, the question of whether Clark could make a living was moot.  He was able to choose the various clients he wanted to take on.  His business was thriving, and all because he recognized what wasn’t working for him and took strides to make a change. This change ultimately led Clark to realize that, while he may not make the best associate, he did make a fantastic entrepreneurial lawyer—someone focused on the business aspect of the practice of law.

 

 

This type of “half-point pivot” is available to anyone and everyone. It simply takes guts and a willingness to think outside of the legal box you’re currently living in.  It also takes vision.  You have to be willing and able to look at yourself and determine whether you’re meant for a specific type of law.

 

For those of you who have already chosen one, you may have noticed that what you thought would be just isn’t. Maybe you’ve discovered that being a Maritime Lawyer doesn’t stroke your inner desire to argue and perhaps you should have gone with being a litigator instead. Maybe the way you practice law within your current field or industry just doesn’t live up to the hopes and dreams you once had, and likely still have.

 

If you are that person, this article is for you.

 

Making a switch—or pivoting mid-stride—is very brave. Not only will it serve you personally, it will also serve the law firm you are currently working for.  Truth be told, lawyers who do not enjoy their jobs don’t put forth the same kind of effort that lawyers who do. This isn’t a judgment, it’s science.  Studies show that employees who are unhappy or only slightly content with their career are less productive than their happier colleagues.  It makes sense, if you think about it. When you were a child and you wanted to play, yet your mother or father made you stay inside to clean your room, the results were more than likely sub-par. The spirit in which the cleaning was done was mediocre at best, and the same can be said for doing a job you only marginally enjoy. While you might do a “good job” and get things done on time, imagine if you were working in a type of law that serves you and your personality. Your work ethic and the results would be far superior!

 

But how can you make this kind of switch so far into the game?

 

By realizing that you control the game.  Changing the type of law you practice mid-stride might seem like starting over, but you’ll really be building on the things you’ve learned thus far.  Working in an industry you don’t like isn’t fruitless. It is a powerful tool that, when utilized properly, can help you create a law practice you love.

 

When you know what you don’t like you can better navigate towards the things that you do.  Use your current dissatisfaction as a springboard.  Use it to plot out a flight plan that will land you where you are truly meant to be—working in a type of law that plays to your strengths and stirs your heart…

 

 


“Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there’s no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.”

Margaret Atwood

 


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