As I write this column, there are multiple signs of trouble brewing in our judicial system.
Indianapolis lawyer John Trimble revisits a 1993 article about improving lawyers’ lives to determined what has changed — and what hasn’t.
In recent years I have published some New Year’s resolutions in my first column of the year, and many of you have contacted me to share feedback about my suggestions. In light of the positive responses, I am going to do the same this year. However, instead of calling them “resolutions,” let’s call them “aspirational goals.”
As 2021 draws to a close, lawyers and law firm managers everywhere are planning for the year ahead. Smart firms are preparing budgets and income projections for 2022, and they are assessing their client relationships in the hopes of maintaining those relationships next year.
As the pandemic forced attorneys to work from remote locations, they have seen how well they could do it. They and their spouses have had a glimpse of a different, slower lifestyle, and it has appealed to them. For many, retirement, which was previously just a distant concept, has grown more realistic. At a minimum, a significant number of my lawyer friends have decided to work fewer hours, and they are confident that they are ready to slow down.
Indianapolis lawyer John Trimble exhorts members of the legal profession to shake off the malaise and resolve to charge ahead into 2021 with the renewed vigor to get through the mountain of challenges and to do what we can to make things better.
As we approach the end of 2020, many of us are contemplating our personal and business charitable contributions. The ravages of the pandemic have left many with no paycheck, no home and living in a state of hopelessness. Imagine what it has been like for people who were already in chronic need before COVID arrived. There has rarely been a time when the need for public generosity has been as great as it is this year.
On Sept. 21, 2020, a whole new cohort of lawyers took the oath to practice law in Indiana. You have joined our profession in the strangest and least predictable year that any of us has seen. We welcome you into the bar with enthusiasm, high expectations and hope that our profession will soon return to a semblance of normal. This year more than ever you will need our support, guidance and patience as you get started.
A courageous man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” In so many words, Dr. King was describing courage. Now, more than ever, we all need courage.
For my column this edition I have the pleasure of introducing a friend, Cordell Parvin, who is one of America’s premier lawyer career coaches. In late February, just before the pandemic, I sat down with Cordell to get his take on a number of questions that had been simmering in my mind. I share that exchange with you now.
One of the unexpected bonuses of our current circumstance is that we have the time to reflect. Indeed, few of us have lived through a time that has had any greater cause to reflect than right now.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order exempted a variety of occupations that were deemed by the governor to be “essential.” To the surprise of many lawyers, the legal profession was designated as essential. We will be allowed to continue working because the contributions we make to our communities are more necessary than ever in this time of anxiety and upheaval.
The task of teaching a new lawyer to cultivate clients should not fall solely on the shoulders of the young lawyer. Firms need to provide financial support, mentoring and a strategy for the lawyers they hire. However, it is a two-way street. Young lawyers need to step forward and be strategic themselves.
Earlier this summer, my friend Dan Kohane of Hurwitz & Fine in Buffalo, New York, embarked on a series of essays for young lawyers on how to market themselves and how to build a practice. In his final chapters Dan introduced the subject of “professional generosity.”
As I have made my own observations about the pace of change in the legal profession, and the supposed differences in generations, I have come to the realization that a career in law is a continuum, and that we all slide up and down that continuum as our life cycles change. Law never has been, nor will it ever be a “one-size-fits-all” occupation.
Almost every day I have to remind myself that I have the implicit biases and attitudes of a sixty-something white guy. In our rapidly changing legal profession, there is no shortage of change that is heading-spinning for most senior lawyers. If we don’t open our minds and embrace change, our profession will pass us by. The rise of so-called alternative legal communities is one such example.
There is simply no question that the law firms that will survive and thrive are the ones that will adopt modern business practices. If there is any aspect of management that will be demanded by the rising generation, it will be transparency.
My pitch to you this week is simple. Let’s all break out of the daily routine in which we do things the same way every day. Instead, let’s be mindful of our niche in the law and resolve to practice law better. Let’s resolve to make our profession and our communities better.
For many firms, improving profitability is as simple as engaging in some common-sense strategies that other businesses observe. Here are a few tips to get you started on improving your profitability.
One of the new tensions of moving a law firm or legal department toward more businesslike behavior is culture. Critics constantly ask, “Will our culture be ruined?” “Will our culture be changed?” “Should we even be concerned about the impact change may have on culture?” “Does culture matter?”