♦️ You must have a strong commitment to your written long term #goals, short term goals and action plans. You need to be organized and have exceptional time management skills. Add a dose of passion and that is your rocket fuel for getting where you want to be and not getting bogged down in the process. As I’ve mentored young #lawyers the biggest skills I find them lacking is time management and #grit. You’d think that if someone did well in law school they would need to have great time management skills and understand the hard work ahead of them to become a successful attorney. Not necessarily!
♦️ Most new professionals are not accustomed to all the demands on your time being a professional takes. As a professional you must generate revenue, provide excellent work and hit your billable hours but you are also called upon to do so much more. Even at Goosmann Law Firm where we have a reduced billable hour requirement, technology tools to help lawyers be nimble, training to help you learn without taking the hard way and a #culture of teamwork it is difficult to transition into a successful private practice lawyer. As a professional, you will serve on community boards, be active in professional associations, write articles, give presentations, post blogs, attend office meetings, learn new skills, train staff, help your teammates, volunteer, attend chamber functions and more! Since you are new at most everything it can become overwhelming to juggle it all.
♦️ At Goosmann we train our lawyers in Goosmann University. Even so, I find once you start to measure #productivity and hold young lawyers #accountable many can buckle under the pressure. We are very clear in our expectations. While we do not expect our young lawyers to grind out 2100 billables like I did as a young lawyer we definitely expect them to work hard and be savvy. I’ve never promised a full time lawyer striving for the moon that they’d become my equity partner by working a 32 hour work week. There is a role for these professionals but it’s not as an owner. On average, to be a full time lawyer or leader in a law firm it is a 50 hour a week job so you can take vacations and holidays. When I surveyed my leaders at our retreat last fall most of them estimated I work 80-100 hours a week if you counted everything I do for the firm. That doesn’t even consider that I’ve put my financial future into the firm and taken on the #risks too. Now I’m not saying I do, nor do I ever expect anyone to work as hard and invest as much in the firm as I do to get ahead. After all, there can only be one #CEO and #founder of this top 100 fastest growing law firm in the country. But don’t expect to be my equal just because you’ve put your years in. Working smarter is a key. Yet, the broadway musical Hamilton refrain frequently runs through my mind when I’m at work “why do you write like you’re running out of time!?!” The more responsibilities and #ambition you have the more you need to leverage your time and that means investing your time, and if you have an owner mentality, your resources and money in yourself and your team.
♦️ The more you invest, the greater your potential return. If you want the rewards there are no shortcuts or firms where you “just get lucky” without the investments. As a person with #BHAGs I learned early on to leverage my time and invest in myself. As an associate making $50,000 a year paying student loans I also invested in my professional dress (please don’t cut your own hair), a cleaning lady, taking people to lunch on my dime, buying my team gifts, membership dues, travel to professional meetings and a pet sitter. Those investments allowed me to put in the time at the office to advance my career and spend quality time with my family. Today, at Goosmann Law we help invest in our young lawyers financially as well. We pay for them to be part of professional organizations and provide them development resources I could have only dreamed of. Yet, there is a personal line where they need to invest in themselves. If they choose to do all their own ironing instead of dry cleaning, wash their own car, spend all their Saturdays roofing their fixer upper, and then they wonder why they aren’t getting ahead as fast as they’d like they really need to analyze their own choices and value their time as a resource. It boils down to the time value of money. Look in the mirror and own your own #destiny.
♦️ Analyze your choices. No one gave me my role, responsibilities or opportunities. I earned a full academic #scholarship to law school after taking on student loans in undergrad. I did get a crazy amount of people investing in me in both scholarship dollars and their time and I have a support network I’ve cultivated. I’d never claim I did it alone, but I did make smart choices with my time and money and by always trying to give more than I take. I still have to make such hard choices today. Do I invest more in my retirement, invest more in growing the firm, hire a summer nanny to help with 2 small kids, send my kids to public or private school, take the family vacation, donate to charity, sponsor this event, take on this new case, mentor this leader, work with this client, and the list is never ending and way more complex with bigger ramifications today if I choose wrong. There are always trade offs and limited resources. It is smart to #invest in yourself, people and services that give you more time with the people you care about.
♦️ What can law firm #leaders do? As a leader it is important to recognize the issue, talk about it, give them tools and training for how to handle it, but ultimately it is up to the individual to choose to invest their resources so they can accomplish their goals. They need to own their destiny and have the #grit and determination to see through the first few years of private practice that are so hard. When they have a great attitude and you can see them striving it makes you want to keep investing in them. So often young lawyers don’t realize the huge investment firms make in them beyond their compensation. Certainly there are monetary costs like 401k, life insurance, continuing education, parking, smart phones, licenses and more that add up. Investing in them includes making introductions to key people that will help them accomplish their goals, giving them big assignments and responsibility on matters that you are responsible for with the clients you worked hard to obtain, taking them with you to hearings, meetings and events and showing them the ropes, giving them tough feedback and encouragement, paying their dues and supporting them in being a part of organizations, being their cheerleader, promoter and critic. None of these “investments” have an immediate clear direct return to the firm or senior attorney either. You do them because you find the young lawyer is worth it, because they are producing, you see a bright future in them and you are paying it forward for those that invested in you.
♦️ Would you invest your time in someone that was not investing in themselves or had a bad #attitude? The older you get the more you realize time is our most precious resource. When you are younger you probably need to over invest your time so that your opportunities will grow. As you get older you still need to invest your time, but you also need to learn to leverage your time and spend it where it counts. It is difficult to select who is worthy of your time. Never stop working to be worthy of someone else’s time by giving more than you get and being #grateful for those who invest in you.