How to Enhance Job Satisfaction as a Lawyer – Your Success Patterns, Part 3

Today’s post covers the last part of the Success Patterns exercise.  I often give this exercise to lawyers who are unsatisfied or unfulfilled in their current position and wish someone would hand them a new job or tell them which path to take or pivot to make. It also works for lawyers who want more clarity about their strengths.

Having worked through the first two parts of the Success Patterns exercise, you have identified your success patterns and more clearly see when and why you feel at your best in certain kinds of contexts. Now what?

Take courage, look for, and create opportunities to be in legal contexts where you will shine

The idea is not to just look for a new job, a clean slate, a better boss, or something other than the law. Those goals alone do not address professional fulfillment.

Use the Success Patterns results to help you shift from a negative “I’ve got to get out of here” mindset to a positive, goal oriented one that intrinsically addresses satisfaction and fulfillment. Your goal is to be in those now better defined contexts where you thrive.  

So, with your success patterns in mind, begin with a small, measurable, do-able action step that moves you toward those contexts. Preferably make it a baby step. I say this because if you are like many lawyers I know, that is the most effective way to start. The alternative is often overwhelming and keeps us from ever starting.

I know that after completing the first two parts of the Success Patterns exercise, some attorneys are still mired down unable to identify what practice areas or positions might be a good fit, and wondering if there is something more satisfying for them outside the law. Unable to see a clear direction and goal, they still don’t know what steps to take or which way to pivot.

It definitely can be hard, especially on your own. Take a deep breath, take the personal evidence from this exercise, and enlist someone you trust – a friend, a mentor, a coach – to help you brainstorm and take practical steps. Set up an accountability system and a timeline. Reward yourself for taking steps that you wouldn’t have taken before. That difference right there is change. It is you shining your light ahead on your path.

Like some of my clients, you may even realize “I am well suited for my practice area!”

The Success Patterns exercise is not magic.  Your patterns won’t tell you exactly which road to take.  But they will help you give shape to a destination and formulate small steps to get you there. 

Instead of jettisoning what you have built in your current job or legal career, use your success patterns to exercise some control over your career. Creating a path forward beats waiting for a dream job to land in your lap.

I would love to help you if you are looking for more satisfaction and fulfillment in your legal career. Please feel free to contact me

How to Enhance Job Satisfaction as a Lawyer – Your Success Patterns, Part 2

In the previous post, I outlined the first part of the Success Patterns exercise I often use with lawyers wishing for a new career direction or job and/or more fulfillment and satisfaction.  Today’s post looks at the second part of the Success Patterns exercise.

Write a detailed description of each experience you identified in Part 1

Reflect on the subject matter, people context, your role, purpose, etc. in each experience.  Dig deep to recall what is going on when you are firing on all cylinders.  Then write about each experience with as much detail as possible and without self-editing.  After you finish writing all of the descriptions, and only then, reread them to look for themes and patterns.  What do you notice?

Example – shining experiences:  planning a wedding, crafting a strategic appeal, developing an expertise

Detailed description of each experience:  . . . .

Sample patterns & themes from the descriptions:  strategic planning, organization, preparation, time management, setting and achieving goals, taking the lead, independence, decision making

If the above hypothetical sounds like you but you are in a practice area where you are constantly putting out fires, are always in triage mode, and never get ahead of the practice, of course your natural light is not shining! On the other hand, your job may be a great fit for the nimble lawyer who dislikes writing lengthy briefs and thrives on flying by the seat of their pants thanks to their own particular talents and success patterns.

The next post will cover the last part of the Success Patterns exercise.

Please contact me if you are ready for change and would like to see if we can work together to help you get more of what you want in your practice and career.

How to Enhance Job Satisfaction as a Lawyer – Your Success Patterns, Part 1

If you are a lawyer who keeps wishing that someone would hand you a new job or tell you what to pivot to that will make you happier, you are not alone.  Thousands of attorneys dream of a better fit in other jobs within, adjacent to, or completely different than the law. 

Yet why throw away a reputation and a knowledge base, probably even some expertise within a particular legal practice area, dreaming of greener grass?  Instead of scrapping everything you have built thus far, focus building on where you are at your best.    

I like to have such lawyers do an exercise I call Success Patterns.  Your success patterns contain evidence of the kinds of contexts in which you shine.  Because they reveal talents and contexts you enjoy most, they give you a direction in which to head to achieve more satisfaction and fulfillment in your career.     

This post covers the first of three parts of the Success Patterns exercise.

Identify 3 – 5 times you felt you were firing on all cylinders relative to your experience level as an attorney

Look for times when you rocked an assignment, owned a project, felt you were really shining.  Identify these experiences independent of the actual results. Perhaps you were at your best, most nimble self for an appeal you briefed and argued but ultimately lost.  Or you advised a client exactly as you planned and they deserved, but they still did not follow your legal advice.  The point is, in this exercise it does not matter whether you won or lost, so to speak.  What matters is where you shine. 

If you have not yet experienced this feeling as an attorney, identify at least three times in the last 5 or however many years when you felt you were firing on all cylinders in anything you did.  For example, consider experiences related to law school or college, another type of job, a volunteer position or other extracurricular activity. 

Don’t despair if you struggle to think of examples. I have had lots of clients say “Elizabeth, this is hard, this is the problem, I can’t think of when I’ve felt like this at work.” It’s ok, I understand, it can be hard. And yet the lawyers always come up with something, something more than non-work examples, especially when I talk with them. Sometimes all it takes for them to see it is someone else holding the light and shining it on them.

The next post will cover the second step in the Success Patterns exercise.

I would love to help you shine your light. If you would like to see if there is a fit for us to work together on your career, please contact me.

Revisit, Start Crushing, or Write Your 2019 Business Development Plan!

Happy Summer Solstice, lawyers!  On this longest day of the year, take a few minutes to blow the dust off the one page business development plan you wrote in January for your law practice.  Perhaps you made notes with good intentions in December or, better yet, you have a legal marketing plan to which you regularly refer.  Compare how you are doing with what you said you would do.  Are you crushing your plan, taking your action steps on a consistent basis?  Have you simplified your strategies and actions to a few repeatable ways to reach and stay in touch with your target market?  How are you doing with building and enhancing relationships with your target market, including referral sources?  Now is an excellent time to figure out where you shine and where you can step it up.  You have six months left to make the most of this year!

If you don’t have a plan and you don’t know where to start, listen to this free ABA webinar, Getting Your Marketing Plan Together For 2019.  It aired last January.  In it, Marianne Trost and I discuss how to create a plan that works for you, no matter where you are in your legal career.  If you would like a copy of the one page plan template we walk through, and/or help creating or actually implementing a business development plan for your law practice, please feel free to contact me.  And as we all know, implementation is essential!

Acknowledge Yourself (It’s Also a Planning Tool!)

In the tradition of year-end Best of and Top Ten lists, let’s pause at the start of this fresh year. Pause here before you find yourself deep in February wondering where January went. Pause not to create a list of resolutions, but to create a list that celebrates your successes.

This is a gift you can give yourself every December- January, and it is one I always challenge my clients to give themselves. Your challenge is to list 100 accomplishments from the past year – – large, small, professional, personal, measurable, immeasurable, tangible, and intangible. As you make the list, you will realize that you accomplished far more than you thought you did. And at some point in the list-making process, you will realize it is not only about the doing, it is also about the being.

What does it mean to also be about the being?” Make your list of 100 accomplishments and find out. You will probably start with easy metrics and matters related to your work. Your calendar will be a useful tool. At some point you will start thinking about all of the things you did in your personal life as well. Eventually you will get to more of who you were — perhaps how you remained resilient, persevered, asserted yourself, met new people, were a friend, or deepened relationships.

I know this challenge makes many lawyers uncomfortable, especially self-described perfectionists and those who loathe self-promotion. But no one else needs to see your list. The only person possibly judging you is you.

This is a time to be proud of yourself and who you were in 2018. A beautiful bonus is that at the end of it all, without having made a single resolution, you will more clearly see what you want to accomplish in 2019. You will see who and how you want to be, and how you will make that happen.

Speaking of 2019, if you do not already have one, create a success folder in Outlook or other location. Throughout the year, save appreciative emails, letters, notes, and your own reminders of your accomplishments. Successes are more than just wins, new clients, and increased revenue. Being able to remind yourself of them will help you ride out the year’s inevitable valleys. Having them available at year-end will help you enjoy it all over again.

Pause as the year begins.  365 new days, 365 new chances.  If you would like to work together in 2019, please let me know.

In the meantime, congratulations on your 2018 and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful new year!

5 Reasons Lawyers Should Keep Job Searching During the Holidays

Here are five gifts the year end holidays offer lawyers seeking new jobs:

1. December brings an abundance of cheerful networking opportunities.  Holiday open houses, bar association parties, potlucks, community service, and other social activities can involve friends as well as potential new contacts.

2. The holidays present natural opportunities to rekindle relationships and deepen others without any awkwardness.  Holiday cards, even a friendly holiday email or text, can be a simple way to reconnect or stay in touch without worrying about how it will be perceived.  Catching up over a quick cup of coffee or a drink to celebrate year end can do the same thing.

3. Law firms and companies are finalizing budgets and plans for the new year, including evaluating hiring needs.  They could meet you or receive your resume or letter of interest when their hiring needs are fresh in mind

4. You will have less competition and stand out more if you keep looking and don’t slow down or stop as many attorneys do in December.

5. Positions open up early in the new year when lawyers give notice after staying the full year in order to receive their bonus.  Be the early bird.  Be top of mind.

Focusing on and caring about other people during the holidays is part of effective job searching.  If you would like help with your job search in December or pulling your search together for 2019, please contact me.

Productivity Tip: Time is Money So Track How You Spend It

Imagine finding an extra 5 hours of time in your pocket every Friday afternoon.  Or finding 10 hours there at the end of every month?  What would you do with it?

That’s crazy, you say.  How could I find time at the end of the month?  Well, ok, so you probably won’t at the end of the month, but you can start finding extra time in your month if you know where yours tends to go.

Time is money, especially a lawyer’s, and like money, you should occasionally track how you spend ALL of it.  This is common financial advice for people trying to establish or stick to a budget.  Why not do the same with your time?

Two easy ways to track all of your time:

  1. Write it in the notes function on your phone or on a small notepad as you proceed through the day
  2. Create a miscellaneous nonbillable file # in your time tracking app and record it there contemporaneously

For one month record it all.  Personal phone calls, the black spiraling hole of the internet, online shopping, colleagues who overuse your office as a safe space or a venting venue….

Where does it go?  What is your biggest time waster?  Naming and facing your worst one is the first step.  Setting do-able rules for yourself is the second.  Follow them and then course correct as needed. 

Consider the lawyers who have rules that they can only surf the internet while on their iPad, and when they aren’t on it, the iPad has to remain out of sight, out of arm’s reach.  Or the lawyers who only read the news online before they get to their office.  Or the attorneys who designate a specific time during the day for taking care of personal matters.

Track all of your time for a month and see what you learn.  It could be even better than finding a twenty dollar bill in last year’s winter coat.  At $250/hour, finding an extra 10 hours/month equals an extra $30,000/year.  Not exactly pocket change.

If you want to increase your productivity and bill more without spending more time at the office, please contact me.

August Productivity

Today reminds me of Natalie Babbitt’s opening lines in Tuck Everlasting, “The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.  The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow, a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot….These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”

It is Wednesday August 1st. Pause. Look around you. What will you do today that you will thank yourself for later?  What will you do this month that will make a difference in your career this year?

If you are motivated and open to coaching to help make changes in your practice and career, please contact me.

Your LinkedIn Profile: Is That You Speaking?

Does your LinkedIn profile actually sound like you?  Or does it sound like how you think a lawyer should sound?  Perhaps you skipped the “Summary” section completely because you don’t know what to write other than something dry and stiff.

I’ve helped hundreds of lawyers with their LinkedIn profiles and Liz Ryan’s article Seven Things Your LinkedIn Profile Says About You is spot on.  Read her advice and then look at your profile with fresh eyes.  What does your profile say about you?

Your LinkedIn “headline” doesn’t have to be the same as your current job “title”.  Your job titles don’t have to be limited to formal titles.  You can write your summary in the first person.  You can highlight work you really enjoy.  You can share your story.  (And if you don’t know your story, we can help you find it.)  You can sound like the knowledgeable, credible professional you are who people would trust, enjoy working with and getting to know.

And for lawyers at medium and large firms, revamping your LinkedIn profile often means the opportunity to rewrite and improve the stiff or clichéd language that constitutes your bio on the firm’s website.  Wouldn’t that be progress?

Please let me know when you want to get started.

How to Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

never-apologize-sorry-daily-quotes-sayings-picturesAre you an apologizer? Do you keep saying “I’m sorry” for no reason? Quick, effective fixes from my experience coaching lawyers:  (1)  Realize that this behavior undermines your credibility and authority.  (2)  Count the number of times you say “I’m sorry” in one day. Why did you say it? Was it necessary? How did it make you look?  What would you do next time?  (3) Ask friends to call you on it every time. Have them ask you what you are sorry for.  (4) If you tend to respond to people’s comments during stressful situations with an automatic “I’m sorry”, substitute “I see” instead. Both are only fillers. It’s a patch if you can’t quit cold turkey.  (5) If you have a colleague who is addicted to “I’m sorry”, tell them to stop apologizing for things that need no apology. Tell them it undermines their credibility.  If they never thought of it this way, this feedback can work like a charm. (Note:  first ask for and get their permission to give feedback.)

Key to quitting:  realize that this behavior undermines your credibility and authority!

Please contact me if you are ready to take control of your career.

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