At a fork in the road?

In this economy, many lawyers are facing an unanticipated fork in the road.  Layoffs leave some lawyers contemplating an exit from the profession, others considering whether to launch a solo practice, and others still looking to shift practice areas in hopes of finding a new position.

I recently watched a video of a presentation for the Georgia Bar Association by my friend and colleague Monica Parker of, in which she offers a 3-step process for leaving practice.  It seems to me that the process is equally applicable (with some modification) to other professional changes.  The video is about an hour long… Pour a cup of coffee, grab a pen and paper, and prepare to think through your next steps.  View the video here.

Inspiration for those considering a new career; can practice be easier?

One of the curious things about my coaching experience is that the topics that arise (with current and potential clients) seem to move in cycles.  Right now, the top two issues on which I’m coaching are (1) making partner (long-term strategy as well as short-term “beefing up” in preparation for the decision and (2) leaving the law.  For those thinking about leaving practice: the JD Bliss Blog has done some marvelous profiles of lawyers who’ve left the law for other pursuits, and I commend those to anyone who’s considering a move out of practice.  Nice inspiration, in short bites, for anyone wondering what might be next.

Meanwhile, for those committed to staying in practice (or at least not committed to leaving), here’s something for you to consider: can you create a practice that’s any easier for you than it is now?  This weekend, I was gardening (and by that, I mean tending parts of an unruly 1-acre yard) in 97-degree weather.  Adjusted for the high humidity, the heat index topped 107.  It was not fun.  I noticed two tendencies that made my work harder than it had to be, though: I was holding my breath every time I tried to pull out a large weed, and I was drinking a bottle of water only every hour or so.  Nothing would have made the work fun under the circumstances, but when I started breathing better and carried a large water bottle around the yard with me, it started being less unpleasant.  I also stopped yardwork entirely between 11 AM and 6 PM; had I not done that, I doubt I’d ever have been willing to set foot in the state of Maryland again!

What’s the practice analogy?  It’ll vary somewhat for each lawyer, but here are some examples:

**  Use the concepts of full engagement and selective disengagement for better energy management.

**  Make sure your office is arranged for maximum utility (good chair, good light, not cluttered, supplies and resources you need at hand, etc.).

**  Commit to raising your practice skills.

**  Identify the habits or tendencies that are detrimental and figure out how to turn them around.

**  If you goes through your days with a negative attitude, consider whether there’s an alternative.

**  Find mentors who can guide you through practice development, office politics, etc.