Seeking Moments of Joy in the Everyday Practice of Law

I have just returned from Spring Break with my family. On my holiday, I had a chance to reflect and pay attention to what brings me joy. We discovered our greatest joy came from a sunrise walk on the beach, a swim in the sea at dusk or eating an amazing plate of nachos under a palapa.  It was the simple, unplanned moments we spent together that resulted in our greatest happiness.

Kerry Patterson, coauthor of Influencer and Crucial Conversations, describes happiness as:

Those precious moments of joy we all seek are often so minor in magnitude (or so counter to what the world tells us will make us happy) that we don’t seek them out. We might even miss these moments should they pay us a visit.

As we all know, holidays end and my goal was to bring this awareness of “precious moments” into my practice. I discovered there were precious moments that happened every day if I paid attention. Last week these precious moments included, a law firm retreat where the partners came together as a unified group with a common purpose, a workshop attendee who told me how the workshop gave her confidence to achieve her practice goals and a warm hug from someone who I had not seen in years. 

These were precious moments because of the meaning behind each encounter. My work was making a difference, I was making a contribution and connecting with others in a meaningful way. Since my holiday, I  recognize I want more of these moments in my work. I will pay attention when they happen and seek them out. 

What are the precious moments of joy for you in your everyday practice? Are you aware of them when they happen? How can you seek them out?

Grow Your Collaborative Practice by Focusing on What You Want



You can build a practice that attracts desirable clients, allows you to do work that inspires you and brings fulfillment to your work. The first step is to identify what you want and then to listen to how your mindset may minimize your success. Many collaborative law practitioners want to increase their collaborative practice but limit their success before they even get started with a marketing plan. The story they tell themselves is , "I  cannot afford to only do collaborative cases" or "if I only do out of court work, I will be perceived as a "softer" lawyer and my referrals will stop."   By acknowledging  how you are creating your own fear, you will be able to overcome that fear and develop a marketing plan that is focused on what you "want".

Marketing your law practice starts with charisma

In a recent blog post by Nick Morgan, Nick talked about the two critical elements to increasing your charisma.

The following are Nicks tips:

First, increase your authenticity.  And that means being absolutely aligned in what you say and how you say it – content and body language.  You can’t be authentic if those two modes of expression are not aligned.

Second, increase your passion.  Focus in yourself on how you feel about the moment, the people you’re with, the situation you’re in, and then express that (see #1).

 Working on these two steps will create a virtuous cycle that will increase your charisma quotient as you get more and more practiced at expressing emotion authentically.

Nick has simply and succinctly named two approaches that will not only increase your charisma but also increase your effectiveness to grow your law practice. Research shows that over 90% of what you communicate is non-verbal, this means that you must first be convinced about what you are saying before you can convince anyone else.

Assess you personal passion and belief in the value of your work. What can you do to increase your alignment between what you say and how you say it?

How to avoid losing your cool to build client relationships

Last week the headlines about Hillary Clinton's visit to Africa included, Hillary Clinton loses cool at question on Bill: 'My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am'.
Hillary’s “rage” over a question asked by a Kinshasa university student overshadowed her entire Africa tour.

You can view the you tube video of Hillary's infamous reaction to the students question here.

As I watched the video of Hillary “losing her cool” which was repeated over and over on all the major news stations, I thought about how “losing your cool” can override good work and make a smart, sophisticated person look foolish.

I am reminded of a term coined by Daniel Golemen called Emotional Intelligence. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves , for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”

Mastering Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill in building and cultivating long term relationships with clients, colleagues and referral sources.

One of the elements of Emotional Intelligence is Self Control, this is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check. The following are three actions to keep in mind to assist you in maintaining self control in a difficult situation:

  1. Manage impulsive feelings- Maintain an awareness of your emotions. Once you feel the urge to react negatively to a comment or situation, think about the goal you want to achieve and how your behavior will help (or hinder) you to achieve your goal.
  2. Respond calmly- Keep in mind that people respond better to a calm and thoughtful response. If you feel you are “losing your cool”, pause and visualize what you want to achieve before reacting in a disrespectful manner. If you have the opportunity, take a break and remove yourself from the situation before you respond.
  3. Become curious- As soon as you are certain that what you are hearing is wrong and upsets you. Seek to understand why the person is asking the question or making the statement.  Imagine how different the outcome would have been if Hillary would have asked for clarification from the student about the "Bill" question before she reacted.

Those who can monitor and control their internal feelings, impulses and resources possess a high level of emotional intelligent self-management skills.  In my experience, the lawyers and executives who have the ability to manage and control their emotions are also those who gain the most endorsement from clients, colleagues and their personal and professional network. By knowing how to manage disruptive emotions and stay calm in difficult situations, you will be perceived by others as more empathetic, intelligent and be someone who others want to spend time and do business with.