Do you delegate well?

An important skill to learn for practicing law is how to delegate. All lawyers delegate; few lawyers delegate well.

Whether you’re just starting out in practice or whether you’ve been in practice for many years, part of your responsibilities will include delegation. If you’ve ever received an incomprehensible assignment, consider these tips so you don’t perpetuate the cycle.

To delegate well, think in terms of the “5 Ws” that you likely learned years ago: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Of course, in this context, some of the Ws are less important than usual — but they’re a helpful organizing model nonetheless.

Who  First, select the person to whom you’re going to delegate. This is often an easy step, but do consider whether the person you have in mind has the ability to do what you need done. For instance, you might delegate preparaing documents for production to a brand new associate or a 3rd year associate, but if you’re concerned about intricate privilege issues, you’d be wiser to select the more senior associate.  (But you’ll review the “close call” documents either way — right?)

What Define exactly what you want done. Define the project specifically. Until you’re skilled at delegation, you might even consider writing down the request to make sure it’s clear. And then consider what you want to receive. If it’s a research project, do you want the work product in the form of a memo, an outline, or an oral report? Do you want the treatise-length exposition of all of the ins and outs of the issue, or do you want a quick-and-dirty answer? Do you want to see the cases cited? In addition, consider how much background you need to provide in the assignment. If you’re requesting research on a fact-specific issue, you’ll need to provide the relevant facts or a source from which they can be determined.

Doing this when you make the assignment will save you much time in the long run.  There’s little more frustrating than getting the answer to the wrong question.

When Two components here: When should you make the assignment, and when do you need the project you’re delegating to be completed? Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to review the work — in other words, don’t request critical research for a brief to be delivered to you on the morning the brief is due to be filed. Although many lawyers seem to raise procrastination to an art form, your practice and your life will run more smoothly if you arrange a schedule that leaves adequate time in case there’s a misstep.

Where If you’re assigning an off-site project, provide whatever information is necessary. Except in the case of document review, this isn’t usually a factor.

Why It’s tempting to say that the only answer to “why” the delegated project should be done is because you’re the lawyer and you said so. Fight this urge! Consider whether explaining why you need something done will increase the likelihood that you’ll get what you really need. For instance, if you need legal research to prepare you for an argument, the person to whom you delegate the work will be able to keep that in mind as he’s performing the task and will therefore be more likely to note any procedural issues in the cases that might be relevant.

How If you have preferences on how a project should be completed, say so. For instance, if you are requesting your secretary to set up a filing system for you and you have particular preferences about how your files are arranged, communicate that.

It may take a little extra effort, at least initially, to delegate well. The effort is wisely invested, though, because good delegation will increase the chances of getting the project done when you need it and in the way you need it. You’ll also be a better colleague, which always pays dividends.

Working Mother magazine’s Top 100 places for moms to work

Working Mother magazine released its annual list of the top 100 places for moms to work, selected on the basis of each company’s flexibility, leave time for new parents, child care, elder care and the number of women occupying top jobs.

Three law firms made the cut: Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

The website for Working Mother magazine is down at the time of writing, but I’ve linked it in case it comes back up.  Bad day for it to be down, huh?

When personal life impacts professional life

One of the ways that I describe the work I do is “professional and personal coaching for lawyers.”  Although I occasionally do what amounts to life coaching for someone who happens to be a lawyer, my passion lies in helping lawyers develop their professional lives, which often relates in some way to their personal lives.

Sometimes, the relationship between the professional and personal sides of life becomes blurred.  That may be a work/life balance issue that calls for reflection on the degree, if any, to which the lawyer wants to separate the two.

But sometimes, a lawyer will experience a personal problem that he can’t keep entirely separate from his professional life.  Serious illness is one example, though the challenge there tends to come when the actual crisis is over, when recovery begins.  My take on that situation is rather clear: do whatever is necessary to ensure your reclaimed health, no matter what professional consequences may follow, but conduct your affairs so that your clients don’t suffer.

Then there are the personal circumstances that don’t have the potential for personal life-or-death consequences.  Examples are a family member’s prolonged illness or death, facing the prospect or reality of divorce.  Although most of us are practiced at putting on the “game face” and getting on with work, events of this magnitude may make it difficult or impossible to manage that.  Each person is, of course, different, and no solution will fit everyone.  Here, however, are some ideas of coping mechanisms.

Support.  Get the support you need, whether that’s counseling, a support group, a coach, or some blend of the three.  Asking for help may not come naturally, but it can help you avoid mental or emotional tunnel vision and help you identify your best options.

Consider whether to share your news.  Depending on the situation, you may need to let a colleague or supervisor at your firm know what’s going on.  There’s no need to share details, but especially if you suspect that there will be an actual conflict between your professional responsibilities and your personal ones, it’s often best to let someone else know.

Practice centering exercises.  Whether it’s meditation, yoga, or just deep breathing, physical activities can help you center yourself so you are better prepared to deal with work while you’re working and less likely to be pulled away mentally or emotionally by whatever is causing you distress.  This can be as simple as sitting in silence for 3-4 minutes and paying attention to your breath, gently releasing any thoughts that may come up.  The beauty of a practice this simple, of course, is that you can revisit it at any moment, without even letting others know you’re doing it.

Excellent self-care.  Get enough sleep.  Eat real, healthy food.  Don’t drink too much alcohol.  Keep your body well-hydrated.  When you’re under severe stress, it’s easy to let his go, but the extra effort will serve you well.

Be realistic.  You may need to cut back on your hours, take a “vacation,” or even take a leave of absence.  Or you may not.  But don’t try to be a hero.  A realistic appraisal of your energy will keep you from taking on too much, causing yourself to crash and burn.

Reflect.  Journal writing can be a terrific tool for working through difficult issues.

Manage your energy.  Take advantage of the days when you have sufficient energy to work hard.  Although you can take steps to keep your energy as high as possible (the other steps suggested here, for instance), it’s a reasonably safe bet that your energy will lag at some point, and you’ll be able to work with that rhythm if you maximize your output when you can.

Remember that this, too, will pass.  It’s a trite saying that may not offer much comfort in the moments of deepest pain, but the difficult times will not last forever.

Goal-setting and The Last Quarter

Saturday is the first day of fall.  Days are getting shorter, football is in full swing, and we’ll be in the holidays before we know it.  Realistically, we have about 3 months left for 2006.

Today, I encourage you to pause and think about what you’d like to do with the last quarter of your year.  What kinds of goals did you set back in January?  This is a good time to reconnect with those goals, whether they’re personal or professional, and to put in some focused time to move forward on them.  Even those of us who don’t adhere to the practice of setting new year’s resolutions (and I am firmly in that camp) benefit from starting a new year better off than we started the previous year.  If you didn’t set goals in January, or if you haven’t been setting goals, consider identifying steps you can take between now and the end of the year that will advance you in some way.

If you’re setting goals, making them SMART goals will increase the chances that you will accomplish what you aim to do.  SMART goals are:

* Specific
* Measurable
* Achievable
* Realistic
* Time-based

Setting goals in this way allows you to be very clear about how you will engineer your approach and how you’ll know when you have achieved the goals.  It’s also a built-in check system, because nothing is quite so discouraging as “deciding” to do something — say, to go from being a couch potato to running an end-of-year marathon — when, realistically, the goal in’t achievable.  Don’t set yourself up to fail.  Instead, aim to go from couch potato to walking a 5K on new year’s eve; that’s a SMART goal, and if you end up running part or all of the goal (and you want to be a runner) then you will have reached and exceeded your goal.

For further help on setting these goals, check out Jack Canfield’s book The Success Principles.  It’s a big book, but a quick read with some good reminders.  Check out the Achiever’s Focusing System, available on to The Success Principles website (click on the first link on that page, keyed to Principle 8 ), a planning sheet developed by Canfield to help you set 90-day goals.

And please contact me if you need help in setting and reaching your goals.

Technology — does it help work/life balance or hurt it?

We all have email and web access these days, and it’s difficult to limp along without it.  My DSL went down for about 6 days recently, and I realized for the first time how dependent I’ve become on Internet access to get information, to touch base with friends and clients, and for recreation.  Amazing.

Many of us now carry BlackBerries or Treos or the like.  If we choose to be — or perhaps if we fail to make an active choice — we’re potentially accessible around the clock.  That brings many advantages, including the ability to get away from the office and still respond immediately to client needs, which in many cases facilitates work/life balance.

But have you ever spent time with someone who interrupts your conversation to reflexively check incoming emails or accept run-of-the-mill phone calls?  It’s infuriating.  Unless there’s a good reason for our family members or social companions to put us on “hold” while they respond to a technological intrusion, it’s just plain rude behavior.  And yet, even as I condemn that, I know I’ve been guilty too.

If we accept calls and emails regardless of what else we may be doing at the time, technology is using us rather than vice versa.  We limit our enjoyment of our downtime by making ourselves too available.

The answer, of course, is to make a conscious decision on when to make ourselves available to clients and colleagues.  Perhaps your rule will be that you must accept work-related interruptions during normal working hours but not in the evenings or on the weekends.  Maybe you’ll screen your calls and emails, only responding to those that truly need an immediate response.  Maybe you will review emails but will not accept phone calls.  Whatever your decision is, communicate it to your colleagues and, where appropriate, your clients so that people know when you’re unavailable.

Tomorrow — it’s always a day away.

What word holds the most promise for both positive change and hopeless atrophy?  Tomorrow.

Lawyers are, by nature, planners.  We also tend to be pessimistic and, therefore, risk-averse.  Those tendencies conspire to incline us to create great plans for career or business development — and then to let them sit on the shelf, unexecuted.  Whether that’s because we don’t believe the plan will work, because we want to perfect it before putting it into practice, or just because we get busy with other things, the end result is the same: nothing.

Although this is similar to garden-variety procrastination, there’s a difference.  I suppose everyone has procrastinated at one time or another on a work-related task, but generally those tasks either reach a point when they become critical or unnecessary.  Procrastinating on professional development (and here I use that phrase broadly to refer to both career development and client development) rarely becomes critical, and it never becomes unnecessary.  Instead, professional development plans hover in the background, waiting, waiting, waiting….

This phenomenon goes back to Stephen Covey’s quadrant-based time management concept.  I’ve discussed this previously here. Clearly, the professional development tasks under consideration are Quadrant II activities.

A few tips to get your plan into action:

1.  Set a weekly time to review and revise your plan.  Though it’s counter-intuitive in some ways (aren’t we talking about action here, not reviewing and revising?), setting a dedicated time that you’ll spend on your plan sets you up for success.  This is your time to work on your plan and to select the tasks that you want to implement during the week.

2.  Put one professional development task on your “to do” list every day or so.  This doesn’t have to be difficult.  Choose a small task, whether it’s attending a networking event, drafting an outline of an article, or reviewing advance sheets.  Urgent, important tasks may knock these off your list on some days, but if that’s a daily occurrence ask yourself why.  Are you procrastinating, or are you genuinely focused on more pressing matters?  What do you need to do to ensure that you’re moving toward your ultimate professional development goals?

3.  Schedule a quarterly review of your overall goals.  Keep your eye on what you want to accomplish.  A quarterly review will allow you to track your progress and make any needed corrections.

4.  Create accountability.  Whether you ask your spouse to help you stay on track, join a mastermind group, or hire a coach, it’s important that you have a person who will hold you accountable.  The ideal partner will be able to cheer your successes, help you to learn from your failures, and assist you in holding your professional development plan as a dynamic plan that changes as your goals and opportunities change.

If you think you don’t need an accountability partner, review these statistics from the American Society for Training and Development, measuring the likelihood that a person will reach a goal at different points of commitment:

Hear an idea: 10%

Consciously decide to adopt an idea: 25%

Decide when to do it: 40%

Plan how to do it: 50%

Commit to someone else that you’ll do it: 65%

Have a specific accountability appointment with the person you committed to: 95%

5.  Be rigorous in your expectations of and commitments to yourself.  Lawyers generally exhibit high levels of self-discipline, though less so when the target of the discipline is self-improvement.  (We’re not alone in that, by the way; I’d suggest that many professionals exhibit the same behavior.)  I’m not suggesting perfectionism; everyone will fail at some point, and there’s often more learning in failure than in success.  This is about being committed to yourself and your career.  Erase the word “try” from your vocabulary: as Yoda said, “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”

Associates’ Pounding Fear: How to Cope

One of the emotions that marks new associates (and, in some firm cultures, all associates) is fear.  Law demands excellence, and clients — whether internal or external — require perfection.  That isn’t unreasonable.  But those expectations can cause enormous stress, followed quickly by a lawyer’s fear of what details he may have overlooked.

I’ll never forget the time when I was working on a large case with over twenty depositions taking place in one month.  I would wake up at night with the sudden fear that maybe, just maybe, I’d forgotten to send out a transcript for a witness’s review, that perhaps I overlooked a critical error in the witness’s testimony that we’d need to deal with, that I might have neglected to arrange a court reporter for one of the many depositions.  I never made any of those mistakes (and I did have a system to ensure that I didn’t) but the fear was real.

I don’t think it’s possible to avoid these fears completely.  But it is possible to take certain steps to allay them.

First, if it’s detail-oriented fear as I describe above, develop your system to keep track of all the details for which you’re responsible.  That can be anything from a chart for deposition-related tasks (a favorite of mine) to a running “to do” list maintained on your computer that you clear on a daily basis so it’s always current.

If your fear is performance anxiety, take a radical step and ask for feedback.  Most firms have formal feedback programs in which your work is reviewed on an annual basis.  Although the programs are important, they’re not helpful for addressing problems (or feared problems) as they arise — and who wants to wait months to find out whether the fears are real?  Asking for feedback throughout the year will allow you to know where you stand and what corrections you may need to make.  To request feedback, ask a single, focused, open-ended question: “How did I do on the So-and-So brief?”  And then, wait.  It’s easy to rapid-fire questions, but it’s important to allow some time for the lawyer to reflect on the question and form his answer.  Alternatively, if you have several specific questions, you might consider sending an email asking for feedback and outlining your questions.  (Downside to this, though, is that it “formalizes” the request.)  Once you’ve asked and get some response, clarify as needed or ask for advice on how to improve, and then move on.  This typically won’t be a 30-minute process, but instead a 5- or 10-minute conversation that’s neither formal nor structured.

Peer mentors can be invaluable in addressing your fears, because they have the experience to tell you whether someone’s reaction is meaningful or random.  For instance, you’ll work with some partners who blow up at the drop of a hat and others who have a slow fuse.  Of course, the short-tempered partner will get angry more often than her more equanimous colleague, and her reactions will likely carry less import.  That isn’t to say you can ignore them, but finding a peer mentor who can help you recognize when she’s just blowing off steam will save you hours of worry.

Do a reality check.  Although fears may have a basis in reality, they may not.  Know yourself.  Although it’s no guarantee, chances are good that if you tend to be detail-oriented, you’re going to have internalized the systems to make sure you don’t overlook details.  Once you’ve developed systems to manage your work, rely on those systems.

Finally, know when your fear is too much.  Fear can be paralyzing.  Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in fear that it controls your life.  The steps above will help minimize the cause of your fears and will help you to recognize when you should and shouldn’t worry.  If these steps don’t help, if you’re having persistent stomach aches or waking up bathed in sweat every night with a fear list zipping through your brain, get help.  Your firm may offer resources, or you might consult a coach (to help you strategize work management systems) or a counselor (to help you deal with the roots of your fear).  Fear is a common feature in a legal life, but it doesn’t have to be pervasive.

New associate influx: 10 tips for settling into a firm successfully

As we enter the second full week of September, it’s probably safe to say that the vast majority of new associates have arrived at their law firms.  Beginning is almost always a wonderful time: expectations are high (as are hopes and fears) and just about everything seems possible.  That phase doesn’t last long when it comes to any kind of employment, unfortunately, but with dedication, it’s possible to move from the honeymoon to a solid day-to-day lifestyle with a minimum of angst.  Although I’m targeting today’s post to brand new lawyers, it’s applicable as well to anyone starting a new position.  With no further ado, here are the top 10 tips to maximize your success as a new associate.

1.  Find a peer mentor, and preferably more than one.  I don’t mean an assigned mentor; I mean someone more senior than you who can teach you the ropes.  For a new associate, you’re looking for someone who’s been there for a couple or three years at a minimum, someone who exudes camaraderie rather than competition.  This is the person who’ll be able to warn you about which partners will load you with nonbillable work, which will give you an incomprehensible assignment that requires tons of interpretation just to identify the question, and which really have an open-door policy.  Your peer mentor is the one to ask all of the critical but embarrassing questions.

2.  Establish a great working relationship with your secretary.  Eight times out of ten, the secretary paired with a new associate knows significantly more about practice than the associate, and she (to stick with the prevalent gender for secretaries) certainly knows the firm much better.  Take your secretary to lunch as soon as possible and get to know her.  Don’t pander or patronize, but if you can get your secretary on your side, your life will be far more pleasant.  When she asks how you’d like things handled, I’d suggest you ask for her recommendation since she likely has more law firm experience than you do.

3.  Accept every invitation you can.  Whether it’s a formal firmwide luncheons or a casual invitation to get a cup of coffee, go. You will be spending most of your time with your colleagues, and your personal satisfaction as well as your career advancement will depend, to some extent, on the relationships you build.

4.  Ask questions, using good judgment.  Unfortunately, in law firm life, there is such a thing as a stupid question.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask it, but it does mean you must consider who’s an appropriate person for various questions.

5.  Spend plenty of time at the office in the first few months, so you get a feel for the rhythm of the office and the people with whom you’re working.  Although you’ll want to adhere to your own rhythm to some extent, if you discover that the senior associate you’re working with prefers to work late and likely will want your help then, life will run much smoother if you’re able to adopt that schedule as your own.  At a minimum, you’ll want to know his preferences so you can let him know, for instance, that you usually leave around 7 PM but will stay later if he needs you to do so.  You will be able to shift into your own schedule in time, but knowing how the office operates will allow you to do so intelligently.

6.  Be sure you maintain a life outside the office.  High achievers frequently take on new challenges with a gusto that leaves little room for anything else.  When you start to think that you have to spend more time at the office just because there’s more work to be done (excluding deadline-based work and assuming you’ve put in enough time to meet or exceed your billables), remember that the office existed before you came on board.  Decide what time is yours — time to exercise, to go out with friends, to relax — and guard it zealously.  You will have to cancel your plans at times because of the press of business, but do what you can to avoid that.

7.  Aim for excellence and don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear.  Legal practice calls for perfection.  Any mistake has the potential to prejudice a client’s interests.  There’s no room for carelessness in practice.  However, no lawyer is perfect and mistakes do happen.  When they do, move through the mistake to the solution as quickly as possible, and make sure to keep the lawyer who’s supervising your work aware of the problem and the solution.  It’s easy to get sucked into a constant state of high adrenaline, checking and rechecking to be sure no mistakes exist, but living that way leads to burnout remarkably fast.

8.  Take charge of your career from the beginning.  It’s a little counterintuitive when you’re just starting to work for a law firm, but every lawyer has a responsibility to manage her own career.  In the early years of practice, you have the opportunity to become well-versed in your substantive area.  Use the time to read the law broadly.  Spend time making sure you enjoy the area in which you’re working, and give thought to what you need to do to improve your knowledge and skills.  If you’re so inclined, investigate pro bono opportunities.  They may be your best chance to get particular kinds of fast-track experience, most notably courtroom experience.  Your key asset for the rest of your professional career will be the skills, knowledge, and judgment that you develop.  Give attention to maximizing that asset.

9.  Develop good in-office habits.  Pay attention to the habits you develop.  It’s easy to be busy and to allow your desk to pile up with papers, books, yesterday’s coffee, and so on.  Don’t allow it.  Decide whether you’ll clear your desk daily or weekly (any less frequently than weekly and you’ll spend too much time hunting for papers you’ve lost on your desk), and stick to your schedule.  Complete your time sheets as you’re working and don’t leave the office until you have that day’s time sheet ready to submit.  Get in the habit of getting up from your desk and walking every hour or hour and a half.  Be sure you drink plenty of water, not just coffee.  All of these habits, and many others, will pay off throughout your career — and there’s no time to form good habits like the present.

10.  Have fun.  Practice is hard, and law firm life is demanding in many ways.  Connect daily with the intellectual challenges, the moral imperative, or whatever made you decide to become a lawyer.  Practice can be a wonderful career, and it’s important to stay mindful and to be attentive to the path you’re on so you continue to move toward your professional goals.  Exercise your sense of humor.  It’s often in vogue for associates to complain about practice, and unfortunately those complaints are often merited.  Keep your eye on what’s right (while seeking to correct what’s wrong) and stay attuned to your satisfaction with the law, your firm, your caseload, your clients, your specialty, etc.  Enjoy as much as you can.

So, to the new associates: welcome to your career.  It’s going to be a long road, marked with many challenges and victories.  It won’t be perfect, but it may very likely be quite good.  If it isn’t, you will have developed marketable skills to facilitate a transfer to another firm, another practice, or another career.  The power of choice is yours.

How do lawyers learn to become rainmakers?

So often, people talk about “rainmakers” as if rainmakers are born, not made.  Not true.  I’ve never seen a survey of great rainmakers to see whether they believe they were born to develop business, but every one I’ve asked asked tells me that, although there may be some personality traits that they were able to develop to help them land clients, the skills themselves were learned.

So, how do rainmakers learn their skills?

1.  Mentoring.  If there’s a lawyer you know who excels at client development, talk with her.  Ask what she did to learn how to approach potential clients.  What attributes does she consider important for business development?  Which activities work well, and which don’t?  Most lawyers are willing to share their knowledge and experience, but you have to ask.

2.  Develop your own marketing plan and work it.  What steps can you take to market yourself to your existing clients and to broaden your network/external exposure?  If you need ideas, ask your mentor or check any of the many rainmaking skills books that are on the market.  Think strategically and plan your networking events (formal and informal), writing and speaking opportunities, and whatever else may be a part of your plan.

It isn’t easy to balance work and personal life, and adding in marketing may seem like it’s too much.  But planning your efforts, and considering how you might fold in personal interests with networking opportunities, will help you to find time to hit all of the bases.  Don’t over-extend yourself.  Instead, break down the larger tasks (like writing an article) into pieces that you can accomplish each day.  That will help you maintain forward momentum and it’ll also prevent overwhelm.  Be sure to share your plan with your mentor, a coach, or someone who can help you stay on track.  That action alone will significantly raise the chances that you’ll keep up with your plan and see results.

3.  Tune up your attitude.  Two beliefs about rainmaking present challenges: that it’s somehow rude, and that it’s unnecessary.

Some people conceive of client development as the task of getting out, meeting people, and self-promoting.  One image of networking is that of an opportunity to foist a business card on any warm body and a soapbox to tell unsuspecting contacts about how great a lawyer the networking genius is.  ICK!  I don’t know of anyone who would like to interact with someone who behaves that way.  That isn’t what client development is about.  Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn about other people and to develop a relationship.  It’s often repeated that clients hire people, not firms, and it’s human nature to prefer to hire a known entity.  (I take some issue with that, but clients certainly interact with particular lawyers and there’s no question that those interactions can facilitate or retard the decision to retain the firm.)  So, the short-term view is that marketing is a way to become that known entity and to develop relationships; the long-term view is that it’s an opportunity to help potential clients solve legal problems they’re facing.  Focus on that attitude.

Although some lawyers would prefer to focus on doing top-quality and top-volume work, and not on bringing work in the door, that’s probably an unrealistic desire.  As a junior associate, it’s easy to expect to be fed work.  But someone has to bring the work in.  A lawyer’s success requires a stream of incoming work, as does a firm’s success.  Firm “grinders” (who grind out the work but do nothing to bring it in) are in a rather tenuous position because strong legal abilities and good client service are the minimum requirements for practice, and those who have nothing more to offer are weak when times get tight.  This is even more true in today’s highly competitive environment.  As a result, client development skills are critical.

Finally, consider the career satisfaction that will likely result from bringing clients into your practice.  You’re building in the ability to work with clients you enjoy, on the kind of work you prefer, and you’re creating your own success.  That’s hard to beat.

4.  Think creatively.  As noted above, the market is flooded with books that promise great tips on marketing.  Some of those books deliver, some don’t… But you can bet that your competition is reading them as well.  Spend some time thinking about what you can do that’s outside the norm for client development.  Instead of serving as a speaker at a CLE event, can you organize an event?  Can you get involved in a professional association to which your target clients belong?  Can you put together some kind of program that offers tangible benefits to your target audience?  This kind of activity requires planning time and will likely require support from your firm, but if carefully executed, it can pay off.

5.  Never forget your existing clients.  While you’re working on how to bring in new clients, be sure you attend to your current clients.  Always provide excellent service and legal work.  Clients are often willing to sing the praises of good attorneys, and they are always quick to criticize those who fall short.  Whether you serve individuals or large corporations, your clients will talk about your service if a friend or close colleague asks.  Keep in mind what you’d like them to say, and let that guide your practice.

Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the tools I access with WordPress allows me to see the searches that lead people to my blog.  I continue to be surprised and concerned by the number of searches on attorneys and depression, and even more so by searches on some derivative of attorneys and suicide.

Lawyers have among the highest rates of depression and suicide of any profession.  I have known one lawyer who killed himself and I’ve known of several more.  And now, suicide is now showing up as a search that leads to my blog almost daily.  I could follow that with a funny, self-deprecating line to lighten the mood, but I’m not going to do it.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, or if you’re concerned that someone in your life is, please seek help.  In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  That number will route your call to the closest crisis center.  The call is free and confidential.  For more information, visit the Lifeline website.