I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the storm of “Lawyers Appreciate…” posts over the last 10 days! Each blogger has added a new perspective on what lawyers appreciate and why. As I read, I found myself wondering what I might add when my turn came; as it turns out, that’s been easy.
Lawyers appreciate colleagues. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve stuck my head into someone’s office and said, “Hey, can I bounce something off you?” The resulting conversations almost always helped me to think through my approach, to challenge my reasoning, to hone my arguments — and also to provide the pleasure of discussing interesting issues with bright colleagues.
Lawyers appreciate support staff. I’ve worked with various secretaries, assistants, paralegals, IT staff, filing clerks, HR staff, librarians, and the like over the years. Although it’s tempting to say that I couldn’t have carried the workload I did without those people, that isn’t completely true, as proven by the years in which I filled each of those roles myself. But working with those professionals made my life easier and more pleasant on many occasions, and I am grateful for the terrific support I’ve received. (And on this note, do read Mike McBride’s musings on lawyers’ frequent failure to praise support staff for their work and contrasting the tangible rewards that lawyers may offer instead… It may be an eye-opener.)
Lawyers appreciate technology. Although at times technology makes it feel that we have to be “on” 24/7, technology makes it possible to work much more efficiently, to present arguments more persuasively, and to spend time away from the office without being unreachable. Used responsibly, the benefits of technology far outweigh the downside.
Lawyers appreciate laughter. The work that we do is serious, sometimes deadly serious. But we can’t fall into the trap of taking ourselves as seriously as we do our work.
Lawyers appreciate our clients. Without them, we’d have nothing to do! But, more importantly, I am often humbled to realize that someone is willing to trust me with their representation. What may be a fairly routine matter to me is a critical matter to my client, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be invited into clients’ businesses and lives. This appreciation forms the basis for my insistence on excellent client service. Clients deserve no less.
Finally, lawyers appreciate being viewed as people, rather than as professional roleplayers. We each bring a unique combination of perspectives, experiences, skills, likes, dislikes, values, etc. to the practice of law. No two lawyers will approach practice in the same way. That’s what makes it fun to work with colleagues, and that’s why there’s a practice niche that will work for every lawyer who wants to practice.
Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for the conversations that led to the “Lawyers Appreciate…” countdown, and thanks to everyone who’s played with us! My commitment is to hold on to this spirit of appreciation in 2007 and to revisit it often, in hopes of making what’s strong even stronger.
Happy New Year!