10 guidelines for being a successful lawyer — Law Prep Tutorial Lucknow
1. Avoid holding your past captive. Your life’s experiences are not a death sentence; they are merely a lesson. We are our own jailers, and our minds are the key. You do not have to deal with events that were painful or did not meet your expectations. You are not a victim, so do not act like one. True leaders and winners accept what happened and move on. However, we must learn from it and not repeat behaviors that have unpleasant consequences. This is perhaps even more important for older lawyers because they have more past experience than younger lawyers.
2. What comes out of the mouth is more important than what goes in, but you are what you eat. This can become a vicious cycle because when we eat or drink things that are not healthy, we feel depressed, stressed, or angry. We can say things we regret later when we feel bad. So when you eat unhealthily or drink too much, you feel bad, which causes you to say negative things, which makes you feel even worse. So you’ll eat and drink even more — and so on and so forth. Or if you are depressed, stressed, or angry because of your circumstances, you will feel even worse if you eat unhealthily or drink too much, which will cause you to behave badly, and the cycle repeats.
3. People will admire you more for your health and happiness than for your bank account. Think about it: Who are the people you admire the most? What is the goal of this game called life? Wealth and possessions are addictive; you will never have enough of them. If you are healthy and happy, wealth will come to you naturally in whatever form you want it. Wealth is relative if you are healthy and happy. Wealth will not be enough if you are not healthy and happy. True wealth is in your heart, not in your bank account.
4. Take 10 minutes each day to not think, but simply breathe. One of the most common complaints among lawyers has to do with thinking too much. All of it. We are trained to analyze, anticipate and avoid problems. The problem is that we love to think, and that’s not always good for us when we are working around the clock. This will make you feel much better and your brain will experience a reboot.
5. Lawyers are admired more for their honesty (and/or humanity) than for their victories. We all know those lawyers who are aggressive, argumentative, unlikable, and just plain unlikable. You may dislike dealing with them or fear them, but they are rarely admired. Think carefully about how you deal with your colleagues, clients, and the court. Would you rather be admired for your honesty and integrity or feared for being a jerk?
6. You need to provide balance and take care of your body, mind, and family/community. One of my senior partners once told me, “To be successful, you need to focus on your law practice, your family, and your church.” I think that was wrong. You need to focus on your physical body, your emotional body, and your family, however, you define that.
7. Nothing is more effective than kind words. You can make your point without being hateful. You will attract more customers with honey than with bitterness. There has been a recent trend of lawyers threatening each other with ethics complaints or similar actions. This is ridiculous. Lawyers do not need to threaten each other to make their point.
8. Embrace change. Change is good. Change is growth. Administrations and presidents switch at least every eight years. Every time something changes, new opportunities arise. Look for the opportunities in change. Do not resist it. If you leave a law firm or change your practice, that’s a good thing! If we are struggling in our practice, it is a sign that something needs to change. Maybe you need new partners, a new practice area, or you need to get out of lawyering altogether. Most of the lessons we learn as lawyers are also valuable in the business world and can lead to success elsewhere.
9. If you do not control your emotions, they will control you. Many people do not realize how powerful their thoughts are and what they can do with them. If we do not focus on positive events and thoughts, we run the risk of focusing on negative events and thoughts. That’s what lawyers do because we focus on worst-case scenarios. It may be surprising, but most successful people do not focus on the worst-case scenario, they focus on the best that can happen.
Granted, when you are stressed, angry, or depressed, it is difficult to focus on positive thoughts. However, this is the only way to heal whatever caused the stress, anger, or depression. As a footnote, if you are clinically depressed, you should see a doctor. Abnormal brain chemistry may require more than positive thinking.