Sunday, July 7, 2013

10 Rules For Being A Happy Lawyer (and a happy person, too.)

There are a lot of unhappy lawyers.  Some people should not be lawyers, just as not everyone should be a politician, a nurse, or an accountant.  These are what I think, after 30 years as a trial lawyer,  it takes to be a happy person who is a lawyer.

1.  Don't practice law unless it is something for which you have passion. It's too much work for someone better suited for something else. Follw your bliss.  This is true for everyone, not just lawyers.  Find what you love to do, and figure out a way to do it.  If practicing law isn't doing it for you, leave and find your passion.

2.  Don't hold grudges. This is also true for all people, including non-lawyers.  Grudges hurt the person with the grudge. Be kind yo yourself by forgiving others.

3.  Take responsibility and own up to your mistakes. If you blow your cool at another lawyer, miss a statute of limitations (yikes!), or yell at your staff - own up to it and apologize. Do what you can to make the situation right.  Again, this is not just applicable to lawyers.

4.  Tell the truth. Your word should be your bond.  You feel good when you live up to a code that makes you proud. Again, true for everyone.

5.  Treat yourself, and others, with respect, always!  If you slip, and are disrespectful, apologize. Again, true for everyone.

6.  Make time for family and fun. Decide what is really important to you and do it.  A "balanced" life is merely setting priorities. Respect what's important.  -  again, true for everyone.

7.  Don't take anything personally (I know I may have ripped this off from The Four Agreements).   What people do and say reflects who they are, not who you are.  When you have clients, they come first.  If you take something personally, figure out why you felt insecure and deal with it. Our job, in law, as in life, is not to try to get everyone to like you.  That's kind of woosy, and not effective advocacy (Caveat - may not apply to jury selection).  Again, this applies to everyone.

8.  Be who you are.  If you are fake, it shows.  Again, this applies to everyone.

9.  Take risks and be vulnerable.  Try things that scare you.  This is how you grow as a lawyer, and as a person.

10.  Give freely of yourself, without expecting a pay back.  This is so true in life, and, even for lawyers.

Granted, it's hard to be perfect.  You may slip and violate a rule.  Then go to rules 3 and 5.   You deserve to be happy, even if you are a lawyer.

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