(714) 962-4477 bame@happylawyercoach.com

Starting off your day, right

You’ve probably heard the old saying many times and, if you had a caring Mother growing up, like I did, you heard it almost every day – – “to start the day off, right, you need a good breakfast.” Well, I’m here to tell you that, if you are a Lawyer (like I am), you need more than a good breakfast to start the day off right. First, let me mention the things that you should NOT do at the start of the day: Don’t meet, first thing in the morning, with your most contentious client; Don’t get into a fight with other members of your Firm or Office; Don’t come to the office drunk or “high” (in fact, don’t do that at any time of the day); Don’t come to the office right after having had an auto accident on the way to the office; and, Don’t skip breakfast All these (and other such) things will not only ruin the start of your day, but your ENTIRE day. As Robert Pagliarini pointed out in a nice article entitled “Better ways to start the day,” which appeared in The Orange County (California) Register newspaper on April 22, 2011, “the first 30 minutes of your day has a powerful grip over the rest of your day – – morning behaviours and attitudes can influence how you feel and what you do for the rest of the day.” Pagliarini suggests five simple things that will “start your day off on a better note and help you live your best life.” KILL THE KRYPTONITE.  Don’t hit the snooze button when the alarm wakes you first...

Missing out on "Life"

One of the saddest things I see in the legal profession are lawyers who have the ability to enjoy life to the fullest, but don't. They work all day, often into the night, many times on weekends and holidays – – they earn substantial income – – but all they do is "work."  They may be excellent at their craft, but (in my opinion) they earn a "D-" (if that) at living "Life." It reminds me of a situation (as reported in the Huntington Beach News, a California newspaper) that occurred at the Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007.  A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. About 4 minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk on. At 6 minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At 10 minutes, a 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole while.  This action was repeated by several other children, but ever parent – without exception – forced...

The 'real' check-up: Is your lifestyle making you unhappy?

On November 29, 2011, an article was published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (Legal) Newspaper that I wrote that had the caption, "The 'real' check-up: Is your lifestyle making you unhappy?" The article was about lawyers and law firms that take end-of-the-year assessments of their business-related matters, but pay little or no attention to their individual or collective personal-related issues. The full article appears below: At the end (or beginning) of each year, lawyers and Law Firms typically take an end-of-the-year (or New Year) assessment of the past year and/or make a “Wish List” of their desired accomplishments for the next new year. This assessment typically focuses on business-related items such as clients gained and sought, matters concluded and pending, cases won and lost, partner/associate/staff additions and reductions, technological changes, professional accomplishments, and (most importantly) accounting, finances, partner compensation packages, bonuses, employee benefit packages, etc. Those lawyers and law firms that do this type of reflection will often incur serious time, effort and expense. But rarely, even for those that undertake such effort and take it seriously, little or no time is spent on taking stock of the lawyer’s personal needs, individually or collectively. Too many in our profession are over-worked, over-whelmed, overweight, smoke, drink to excess, over-medicated, get no exercise, are continually stressed, have no fun (outside of their work, assuming work can be considered as having “fun”) – – and “unhappy” in their work and/or life. Numerous articles and books have been written on this condition of our profession. Frequently a lawyer will only address such personal issues when they get a “wake up call” after...

Thanksgiving = Givingthanks

We all have problems — and lawyers, as a whole, seem to have more than most. Some lawyers take their problems (whether they be their own personal problems, or their clients' issues) more intensely than others. Some even lament 24/7 – – but, that's another story for another day. But on one special day — Thanksgiving Day — we all need to focus (at least for some period of time that day) on our BLESSINGS, rather than on our...

The best, and the worst, part of being a lawyer

A famous baseball Umpire was once asked, "What is the best part of your work as a baseball Umpire, and the worst?" He thought for a moment, and then answered, "The best part is that I thoroughly enjoy what I do for a living.  It's not "work."  I can't wait for my next game.  When I'm behind Home Plate, every part of my being feels alive.  I live for those few hours each game." Then he said, "The worst part is that I get hit by a ball every now and then." Each of us, if asked, could answer that same questions about the work we do.  Each one of us could articulate the "best part" and the "worst part" of what we do for a living. But, unlike a baseball Umpire who wears protective body armor (a face mask and heavy chest padding), many lawyers do not have – or have not developed – the necessary "armor" to ward off the "balls" that hit us every now and then.  And, when we get "hit," bad things may occur – – such as we get discouraged, question their choice of careers, denouce the profession, or even abuse alcohol or drugs. There is no line of work where every day is a "perfect day."  We all get "it by a ball" every now and then.  Some lawyers look at that as a challenge and relish the fact that those "balls" just bounce off of them like "water off the back of a duck."  Other lawyers, however, do not handle such incidents as well. No baseball Umpire would ever consider going into...

Showing appreciation to "the Help"

Unless we are a "1-man Band," practicing law all by ourselves (in a Solo Practice), we depend upon others to make us successful – – not to mention, just to make us look "good."  But, come to think of it, even the solo practitioners can't do everything all by themselves – – they, too, depend on others to do what has to be done in a law practice. But, are we cognizant of that fact?  How much thought do we really give to those others within, and outside of, our offices to accomplish the many things that make up a "law practice"?  Have you ever taken the time (other than the end of the year at Holiday time (if then) to note the many persons who make you who you are – – as a practicing Lawyer? But the more important question is: Do you show those individuals appropriate appreciation for what they do for you by helping to contribute to your success? Harvey Mackay, writing on this subject in an article appearing in the Orange County (California) Register  newspaper on September 3, 2011 stated that none of us get to where we want to go alone. Whether the assistance we receive is obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying "Thank you."  Mackay says that it is more than just good manners to say "Thank you" to those that help us.  He says that expressing appreciation to those that assist us appeals to a basic human need to be appreciated.  And, it sets the stage for the next pleasant encounter. Retailing giant Sam Walton wrote...

Beating Stress !!!!

If a Researcher studying stress wanted to look for one or more subjects to study, they need look no further than the Law Office of their closest lawyer. Lawyers (not all lawyers, but the "average lawyer") are under some degree of stress on a regular (if not a daily) basis. It's the nature of our work, our clients, the court system, the justice system, the economy, etc. that creates this condition. So, if stress is a component of our work, it is imperative that we learn more about stress, and how to combat it, to survive – – both for the sake of our health and our careers....

Bored practicing law

It may be hard for some to believe, particularly non-lawyers, but some lawyers are actually bored practicing law. I was called on some time ago to consult with a lawyer, a very good lawyer, who was considering leaving his firm, and even changing his career - – because he was bored practicing law.  His firm wanted him to remain a lawyer, and continue with the firm, because he was very good at what he did and he attracted a number of clients to the firm. When I interviewed this lawyer, he told me that he did the same type of legal work day after day, month after month, and year after year.  He had gotten bored being a lawyer. As we got further into our conversation, it became apparent to me that his personal life, outside of the office, wasn't much different.  He was bored in the office, and bored outside of the office.  But, the interesting thing to me was that he was an interesting guy.  He had a lot of (legal) talent, and had a number of (hidden) interests.  It is just that he had gotten himself into a great big rut both in his work and in his personal life. Harvey Mackey, the national columnist who writes articles on Leadership, wrote an article that addressed just this type of person.  Mackey said, "Folks who are chronically bored are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  When you can't (or should not have to) change your job to eliminate boredom, you have to change your state of mind. You need a shot of stimulation. Give your brain some new challenges –...

What clients REALLY want

Most Law Schools don't teach classes in what their students' future clients really want.  Most, if not all, of their classes focus on their students' technical skills – – legal research skills, trial techniques, case law disecting, statues and codes, and the like. …and most practicing lawyers think that it is the end result — the "win"  (sometimes, at any cost) that really matters. But, they would be wrong. Because, when it comes right down to it, most clients want to know that their lawyer really cares about them (and their case or cause) – – that their lawyer is empathetic. The dictionary defines empathetic as being "involved, or based on empathy."  Synonyms are: commiserative, compassionate, humane, understanding and sympathetic. Too many lawyers I meet are just the reverse – – callous, hard, insensitive, unfeeling and unsympathetic. Robert Pagliarini (President of Pacifica Wealth Advisers in Mission Viejo, California) wrote a great article in the Orange County, California Orange County Register Newspaper, entitled, "A well-timed tantrum can show others that you care."  He makes some good points. Pagliarini states that your clients need to see that you care about them and their cause.  That when things go badly, they want someone who jumps into action.  They want to feel that you care more deeply about their problem than they do.  They want someone to get upset, and maybe even swear a little.  Pagliarini says that patience, kindness, level-headedness and understanding are wonderful qualities to embody at work,  These are critical characteristics that help boost creativity and productivity and provided a good foundation for managing and leading a team.  But if...

Make a difference in your life each day

The following poignant thought has been contributed by renowned Family Law Attorney Cindy Kirby of Toledo, Ohio – – "I've been practicing law for almost 19 years, and can still say that I love what I do. One of the reasons that I still enjoy the practice of law is that I pay attention to the difference I get to make in the world. This gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that I'm making a mark on my community.   "I suggest a variation of the practice intended to achieve a similar sense of well being. For the next month, do one thing every day designed to make a difference in your life. This can be something as simple as taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or choosing a salad over a double cheeseburger for lunch. Or it can be something large, like reaching out to a long lost friend, apologizing to someone important to you, or going to extra mile for your client. Keep track of that daily thing in a journal. At the end of the month, review your journal. Observe your sense of achievement. I predict that you'll be inspired to keep the practice going, and to challenge yourself to make a larger difference in your life each day."      Cindy Kirby, Family Law Attorney, Toledo, Ohio JEROME M. BAME, Esq. Coach-Mentor-Confidant to Lawyers, 10061 Talbert Avenue, Suite 200, Fountain Valley, CA  92708; Telephone (714) 962-4477; Email jmb@PracticingLawSucks.com  ...