The news is not good: when asked, most lawyers find most parts of their job, and most of their clients, “tolerable”, “acceptable” or “terrible” rather than “exciting” or “invigorating” or anything on the positive end of the spectrum.
Now this isn’t about hating your job – I wrote about that before.
This is about getting excitement from the performance of professional services. When we look at the tasks that lawyers perform, it’s interesting that lawyers don’t necessary get much of a buzz about much of their job. But drill down and you will find a couple of common denominators. The first is the quality of the legal work. If the quality of work is low (by which I mean less complex and less interesting to a highly trained practitioner) then you will inherently find it merely “tolerable” rather than invigorating. After all, it’s hard to leap out of bed and be excited about work that doesn’t require any brain-power, diligence or focus on your part.
The second part of the issue is often clients. There are some clients we really like, who pay their bills, are engaging with us, offer useful opinions but not interference, and generally are a pleasure to work with and talk to. There are others who, when they call, our heart races a little, we break out in a sweat, or that vein in our forehead starts to throb again to the concern of everyone around us.
How, then, do we combine these aspects into a plan to actually enjoy the legal work some more, and re-engage with some passion into our legal work?
It’s to combine the best of both worlds, and hunt out better clients, with better jobs. It doesn’t really matter what field you work in, there is always work that is more complex, and clients that are more pleasant to deal with. The pinnacle of inspiring us to becoming more passionate professionals then is to find agreeable clients that we genuinely want to help, with interesting work that is within our expertise but stretches us enough to find the work interesting.
Sound impossible? Well – it’s not.
Ultimately here what we have is a case for ongoing and consistent business development, and this is really step 1 – identifying the work and the clients that you prefer to have.
I know that some marketing gurus advocate actually “firing” all of the clients that you hate – you know the ones I mean, they are the clients that argue with every bill (whether justified or not), don’t believe anything you have to say, don’t respond to emails or requests for information and expect you just to do exactly what they say on their irrationally tight timeframes. These are not the clients that we want, as a general rule.
I personally don’t think that firing them is always the best short term plan (and you may or may not be empowered to make such a decision), providing you have capacity to do some business development. If, however, you are so busy that you cannot get any business development done, then perhaps letting a few clients out of your grasp to allow you to get out there and find more interesting, agreeable clients might not be a bad idea.
I’m not going to set out a plan for capturing those more interesting clients today. What I’m trying to do is to plant the seed in your mind, and get you thinking about what the clients and matters are that we actually want. In doing so, we provide ourselves a vision which lets us know what we’re after. It provides a purpose and a focus for our marketing efforts, and allows us to put our energy towards goals that will improve the quality of our practice, and ultimately help to make us more passionate professionals.
What’s your ideal client? What’s your ideal matter? Let me know in the comments below.