5 Habits That Are Holding Back Your Legal Career

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It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a lawyer.

Never before have lawyers had so many opportunities to be innovative, successful and happy. There’s great tech to use, there’s excellent information out there to gain new knowledge and skills, and there’s people full of awesomeness doing interesting stuff that is so inspiring.

Yet many lawyers are not seizing these fabulous opportunities. Why? Because lawyers are afraid to be bold and take massive action when the Clockblockers they work with say “change is futile – you must do as you have always done!”.

Here are some habits that could be holding back your legal career:

Habit 1: Being disinterested in the future of law

Look lawyer peeps, commoditisation of the legal sector is inevitable. We know that. AI and automation are here. We know that too. Blockchain and smart contracts mean that lawyers won’t be required in the future for certain types of legal work. Going about your lawyer life and not being interested in these changes that will directly affect your career and income earning potential is irresponsible to your firm, your family and yourself.

How to break this habit:

Commit to reading articles on innovative legal stuff for 15 minutes a day, or 1 hour a week. Put it in your calendar. You’ll become hooked in no time.

For extra credit:

Schedule a regular time to talk about what you’re learning with your team in relaxed environment and facilitate discussion. This will help your team to be more interested in the future of law too.

Habit 2: Claiming you’re innovative when you’re not

I’m sick of law firms’ websites that claim they’re innovative when they’re not. Being innovative means introducing original changes and new ideas. Is your law firm actually innovative? Do you demonstrate the innovative things you’re doing to your clients? SPOILER ALERT: having a new or pretty website is not being innovative. #sorrynotsorry

How to break this habit:

Step 1: if you can’t explain why you or your law firm is innovative, then take the word “innovative” off your website and stop misrepresenting yourself.

Step 2: if you want to be innovative then that’s awesome. It’s time to hit the whiteboard and start strategising about the future of your firm and legal career, and researching the latest trends and what thought leaders are saying about the future of law. If you come up with original ideas and start implementing these then feel free to stick the word “innovative” back up on your website.

Habit 3: Being “too busy”

Often when I ask people how they are doing they say “I’m just sooooooo busy” like being busy makes them more awesome. Many lawyers use being “too busy” as an excuse not to work on improving their firms and legal careers. But are you really too busy? Is this just a lie you tell yourself to hold yourself back? Do you ever give yourself the mental space to just think? If you’re not making time to work on improving your law firm and your legal career then those that do will probably take your clients.

How to break this habit:

You are the boss of your life. No one else. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and too busy, then you need to analyse where your time is going and take control back. Do you need to watch Netflix for an hour a day? Could you get up earlier? Can you delegate more? Are you prioritising properly? Do you actually need to do everything on your to do list? Stop making excuses (cos they’re lame) and boss up. I also recommend meditation to help get clarity on this stuff, and I use the Headspace app on my phone for 10 minutes of meditation every day.

Recommended reading:

If you are overwhelmed by how busy your life is I recommend reading these books:

  1.  The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche – this book talks about how Westerners make themselves sooo busy to avoid being present and spiritual. It also teaches handy meditation techniques.
  2. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks – this book talks about “upper limit problems” which hold you back from achieving true success. You may identify that your constant “busy-ness” is a situation you’re creating for yourself as you’re secretly afraid of success.

Habit 4: Putting up with crap

My brave workmate Olivia Wensley published an article this week called Let’s Talk About Law’s Dirty Little Secret where she talks about her experiences with sexual harassment in law firms. Olivia’s article is raw, disturbing and a must read. Sexual harassment is just one of a number of issues lawyers are conditioned to put up with. Lawyers need to stop putting up with crap and being unhappy in exchange for money and prestige. There’s more to life, people.

How to break this habit:

WARNING: the only real way to deal with this is to make big, bold changes in your life. As we’re already established, YOU are the boss of your life and if you’re putting up with crap at work then here’s a couple of suggestions for you:

  1. Leave your job and join a firm or business that has values that align with yours. Don’t choose another job because they’re got a role available or because of the money, do the research and find a firm that speaks to your heart.
  2. Start your own firm that leverages technology to serve your clients incredibly well, while supporting the lifestyle you crave and your life’s purpose.

Yes, both of these things are scary and can be hard to do, but anything that’s worth doing is scary and hard. Be the person with the stories, not the regrets.

Habit 5: Not upskilling outside of the law

Lawyers are pretty good at doing courses etc to improve their legal skills – you’ve gotta get those CPD points. But lawyers also need to focus on gaining skills outside of the law, like leadership, strategic planning, coding, sales, financial, and digital marketing skills as just a few examples. These skills will help lawyers be more entrepreneurial and strategic in running their law firms and navigating their legal careers. I believe that in life the most important thing you can invest in is yourself.

How to break this habit:

Don’t rely on your employer to suggest, organise or pay for you to do courses to upskill outside of the law. You are the boss of your life, so do some research and identify thought leaders on an area you’re particularly interested in and follow them. Say you’d like to create a strategic plan for your law firm or your legal career, do some reading on strategic planning and find people who have good stuff to say that resonates with you. Sign up to their newsletters. Go to their events. Buy their online training courses. Then have fun applying your new skills to your legal career and business.

Keen to start breaking some of these habits? See why so many innovative lawyers and firms are choosing to use Automio’s lawyer bot technology. You can book a free online demo with one of our team here, check out our customer success stories, or try our Confidentiality Agreement Bot for free here.

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