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Lessons to My Former Self: A New Attorney's Guide to a Purposeful Practice

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Lessons to My Former Self: A New Attorney's Guide to a Purposeful Practice

Have you ever considered what advice you wish you had known when you were a new lawyer? This program is based on attorney Lewis Grimm of Jones Day’s consideration of this question. This course will provide practical considerations for new attorneys and helpful reminders for experienced practitioners in areas such as dealing with opposing counsel, advising clients, staying aware of your own mental and physical health, and understanding how to thoughtfully shape your own career.

Transcript

Hi, This is a presentation by Lewis Grimm, a partner at Jones Day, and the title of the presentation today is Lessons to My Former Self A New Attorney's Guide to a Purposeful Practice. And the reason why I'm giving this presentation is because I wish that someone had given me some of these guidelines or guidances when I started, because a lot of this was stuff that I ended up learning on the job. By way of an overview. Um, I'm going to go through nine lessons in the course of the next hour. Um, and I've got a slide here that goes through what we'll be talking about and some of the topics, uh, may not be intuitive, but hopefully as we go through them, they'll make a bit more sense to you. Um. As for me. Um. This whole process started with a LinkedIn contact. I'm very active on LinkedIn who reached out to me and asked me what wish I had known when I was a law student and I gave her a set of bullet points, but felt that just a few bullet points really wasn't enough. And so I thought maybe I would prepare a series on on on LinkedIn that would would give some of my thoughts in more detail. And so this presentation is based on that series. But if you want to know more of my thoughts, feel free to reach out to me. And I've included my LinkedIn address. If you if you want to connect with me or follow me. So let's start with the first topic. And it's a bit of a sensitive one when you think about it. People don't care about you as much as you think they do, and that's a great thing. And why is it a great that that people people don't don't care about you? Um, I'm not saying that people don't care at all, but, um, and there was a former Notre Dame coach, Lou Holtz, who was quoted as saying, Never tell your problems to anyone because 20% of people don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them. But that's that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Um, the point that I'm really making is that many lawyers who are starting off their careers have a high level of what's referred to as imposter syndrome, in that they think that they aren't good enough or they don't belong where they are. And certainly when I started my career, I had a high level of imposter syndrome. And I remember getting on the on a call to my uncle and saying, I don't belong here. I can't handle it. And his response was. Now you're good enough or else you wouldn't be there. That was that was a really nice, nice comment and gave me a little bit more confidence that I could take on the world. But yeah, the imposter syndrome didn't go away straight, straight away. And certainly, um, I was in a big law firm and was surrounded by, by overachievers. And so, um. It's very easy to think that everyone else is better than you and you somehow don't belong. And for me, it went away after I realized from doing a few deals that I could handle the workload and some of the people that I was have concerned about but weren't, weren't, weren't as good in practice as they may have been in law school. And some of them were fantastic too. But I felt like I was I was certainly positioned well enough to be able to handle the work that I was getting. Um, and so what, what helped me get to that point. And so for me, it was understanding the spotlight effect. And. And I'll get to the I'll get to the spotlight effect soon, but, um. Thought I'd, um. Talk a little bit more about what? What are the downsides of of of imposter syndrome? And and certainly if you if you feel like you don't belong, then you as a lawyer, you may get stressed about it. Many people will work extra hard to prove that they are good enough or to try to compensate for their perceived deficiencies. And as a result, a lot of lawyers end up burnt out, particularly in the first 2 or 3 years. Um, and because you may be concerned about not being good enough, you may miss out on real opportunities to do interesting work because you're concerned that you're not good enough for it. And as a result, the missing, the good opportunities to to do high level work may result in you not getting future high quality work and having a lack of job satisfaction because other people are doing more interesting work than you. And so it becomes a very vicious and reinforcing cycle. And so also you may have been an ineffective leader and and not be able to be a team player because you're so concerned that other lawyers will think that we'll realize that you're not not good enough. And so, you know, these fears of inadequacy can can lead to not getting your work done or trying too hard to get it done perfectly, which is also a difficulty because it's very hard when you've got hundreds of pages of documents to go through to make sure that every single detail is perfect and still get everything delivered in a timely manner. So in the long run, imposter syndrome can really be harmful to your mental health, your general well-being, and your and your relationships with your colleagues and your loved ones. Um, and so. In terms of the the. The spotlight effect. One of my favorite all time movies is called Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, and it talks about the rape and murder of a person through multiple witnesses, including including the victim themselves. And each narrative is told in a different way. And sometimes the narratives didn't agree with each other. And guess the highlight of that is that. When you think about it, you're the star of your own movie and many people feel like everyone's watching us and looking at us the whole time. But the truth of the matter is, you're not the star of everyone else's movie. They are the star of their movie. And you're just a background actor. And when you realize this, you then he might dawn on you that that. What other people are thinking about is not necessarily whether you're good or not good, but more how do how does what you do impact them and everyone else. So, um, once once you realize that they're not hyper focused on you and every single thing that you get wrong. Then. Then maybe it's easier to accept that, that you don't have to worry too much about whether you're an imposter and just focus on just doing the best job that you you can do. And and that's how I was certainly able to get past my imposter syndrome, So. In terms of suggestions. If you do if you are dealing with imposter syndrome, the first thing is recognize that you have it because um, the first first step to. So dealing with imposter syndrome is is is is, you know, realizing that there's a problem to deal with. And once you realize that you have it, maybe the next step might be to educate yourself. And what does that mean and and and how you can better understand what you are going through and how to deal with it. And then recognize the whole spotlight effect that. You may think that the whole world is focused on you and your inadequacies, but. But they're not. And and everyone seems to be focused generally more on on themselves and the challenges that they're facing and the opportunities that they're dealing with and and not so much on on you. And as long as and as long as you're not getting in their way, they tend not to. Um, be too. Too obsessed with what? What you're doing. Um, and so if you do feel inadequate, talk, talk about it. Talk about your feelings, whether it's with friends or with professional help or with mentors or sponsors. You know, there are people who can help you walk through your challenges and and maybe, maybe explain to you that you're actually better than you realize or give you guidance as to how to improve. So, um. There's that and then then work on your how it, how it impacts you in terms of mindfulness and being focused on being in the moment and. Being able to relax through meditation and other relaxation techniques, because definitely being being mindful is a very helpful way of of focusing yourself on, on not worrying about whether you're an imposter or not an imposter, but really worrying about the task at hand and what you need to do and, and how you are more able to focus on, on, on on your key objectives rather than things that might distract you from them. And just generally be kind to yourself. Don't beat up on yourself if you can. Um. Not be your own worst enemy than then and be a friend of yourself. Then maybe you can help. Deal with setbacks and and failures and everyone has them. I don't know anyone who started off their career without messing things up. And and so when you do make mistakes, don't feel like, oh, this is more proof that I'm an imposter. Don't, don't let the the the good be the enemy of the perfect. Treat your mistakes and failures as learning experiences. And don't don't try to compare yourself with others. You don't necessarily know every mistake that everyone else makes. Some people make some pretty bad ones along the way and won't necessarily tell other people about it. So just focus on, you know, making sure that you don't make the same mistakes again. Try to identify how you ended up making those mistakes, whether it was a lack of guidance or a lack of knowledge or or lack of training or experience, and see if there are ways that you can improve yourself so that your communication channels improve or your knowledge or ability to deal with certain situations may may improve so that you don't have the same things happening again. So. Also try to change your focus more generally on not looking at the negative and looking at the positive because you are more than your deficiencies, you're more than your failures or your mistakes. You bring value to the table. They're paying you good money because they think that you can add value. So focus on the value that you can bring rather than on any of your weaknesses and try to be the best you that you can be because you are a valuable person or you wouldn't be hired there if you if it were otherwise. You deserve to be where you are and you deserve to be doing what you're doing. And and just important to to take that and do the best job of that that you can. So the next topic I have is birds are overrated. And I like birds generally, but. I'm talking about specific type of bird. So British American scientist Freeman Dyson at one point divided the world of mathematicians into birds and frogs. And his quote is birds fly in the air and survey broad vistas out to the far horizon. They delight in concepts that unify our thinking and bring together diverse problems from different parts of the of the landscape. Frogs live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby. They delight in the details of particular objects and they solve problems one at a time. And so in the practice of law, people often refer to big picture lawyers and little picture lawyers. And there was always a sense that the big picture lawyers were the ones that everyone wanted to be. You didn't want to be a little picture lawyer. You didn't want to. You don't want be the one who who pays attention to the commas and the details. You know, you don't want to be fighting over things that don't matter. You only want to be fighting over. Over important things. Um, you know, the big picture lawyers, they're the ones who solve the big issues for the clients. They. They don't need to worry about the details because they. They they. They're like the birds. They soar over the grand vistas. They. They see everything from a from a 30,000 foot view, and they solve problems that that no one else is able to solve. But the truth is, the world's not really like that. Most unfortunately, the truth. The truth is actually a lot more boring. But. But. But in some ways helpful. Because once you realize that the best lawyers do pay attention to the details. But can also see the big picture. Then you realize that. You know, the details do matter. And there have been so many cases where a case has been decided on the basis of a of a comma or an extra zero that was missing or a filing that people forgot to make or a deadline that was missed. The details really do matter. And if you miss the important details, then you cannot be, you know, a top lawyer and potentially you can get sued or fired. And the truth is that all of the really top lawyers that I've seen are also big picture lawyers. And they became that way by starting small and paying attention to the to the details. And and then as they paid more attention to the little details, they gained a better understanding of the bigger details. And then the big picture. So don't think it's really even possible to become a big picture lawyer without first paying attention to the details. So. You don't want to be a big a bird that just soars over over the vistas and you don't want to be a frog that just pays attention to the every small detail. You want to be a frog that can fly. You want to be able to do the small, small, detailed stuff and get it right. Particularly as a junior lawyer, because the more senior lawyers who charge a lot by the hour are expensive and they don't they can't justify spending the amount of time to be on top of every single little detail. And so it's important as a junior lawyer for you to be the one who's on top of all the all the details, as well as using that understanding of the details to try to get a better picture of of of the big picture and the things that really matter. So, for example. Like, here's a tangible example of big picture versus little picture. You could spend a huge amount of time negotiating the formula for calculating the purchase price for a particular asset, and then you can work out exactly how to draft it in the most eloquent way so that the formula is very clear as to how the price of the asset is calculated. But what if what if the client shouldn't be buying the asset? Maybe it's got environmental issues. Maybe it's. Maybe. Maybe the asset has defects. Maybe the asset isn't. Isn't something that the client needs for their business. And if your only focus is on calculating the formula for the asset and you haven't given any thought as to should the should the client be buying the asset at all, then you may miss a great opportunity to be able to tell the client. Are you sure that this is something you even want to buy? Um, because that sort of value add can really make a big difference when you realize that, you know, you've been negotiating over, over the, over the how and really the question is more fundamental of, of of whether or why. And so that's just one example. But there are plenty of examples where people get bogged down on on negotiating something without realizing that there is a, you know, a broader context that they're missing. So the next one is get yourself a rabbi. And I don't mean this in any religious sense. Whether whether your rabbi is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist or something else. I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about getting yourself a sponsor. And I have here a quote from, um, from from Game of Thrones. When the snows fall and the white wind blows, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. And Michael Lewis, who's a fantastic author, If You Have the Chance, wrote a book called Liar's Poker that talks about how junior bond traders at Salomon Brothers had to find managers who would take them under their wings. And they he referred to those. Those managers as as rabbis. Some people use. Some people use that term. Use the term sponsor. And I'm not wedded to any particular term. But the idea behind it is everyone needs a parental figure, trusted a counsellor, a trailblazer, a sponsor, the shirt tales you could write to the top, someone who will tell you something you need to know or need to hear, but maybe you won't want to hear it. Someone who really cares about you and cares about your your success enough to tell you some hard truths, to make sure that you are you are looked after, and who will back your career and say the right things to the right people about you. Um, it's important to not just have a mentor who will train you because mentors are important, because you need to be trained and you need to be mentored and need to be developed. But a sponsor is something more than that. A sponsor is someone who actively takes a vested interest in your success, and having a sponsor can make a huge difference as you try to climb up the the ladder of success. And it can be someone in your own firm, it can be a client, it can be a a someone at another firm even. But but as long as you have someone who who can support you on your on your way to success and give you real hard truths, Um, you know, it's as Stephen Covey, who also used the term rabbi and seven Habits of highly Effective People stressed, it's important to have someone to look up to and learn from when you're seeking personal and professional growth and so certainly when I started out as a lawyer, I thought it was the opposite. You can only really succeed as being an independent if you're asking for help or if you're asking for guidance and clearly you're not good enough. But that's wrong. I was wrong. And so I just celebrated 25 years as a lawyer. And one of the things I'm proudest of is how I've been able to sponsor and develop young lawyers. Um, because. In order to succeed as a lawyer, you need to have a support network. You need to have people who have your back. Certainly, I'm I'm very grateful to the people who had my back. And if you can find them and they've helped you and you've climbed up the the ladder of success and maybe along the way you can be someone else's rabbi or sponsor because, you know, there will always be a younger generation of people who who you might be able to help. And so. How do you find the rabbi? There are lots of lots of potential areas where you can get mentors. You can certainly find people from your bar association. Um, there are a lot of lot of states have mentorship programs. Um, and most firms have associate development programs. You know, there are certainly others. And the truth is, if you find someone that you think could be a sponsor, just ask them. You'd be surprised how how many people are often prepared to give their time and and expertise to people who are just showing a certain level of enthusiasm. But yeah, there are affiliate affiliation groups within firms, um, for, for different types of groups, whether it's religious or based on race or gender preference or sexuality. There's lots of affiliation groups that might be able to help you. And certainly the more you have in common with someone, the more they'll understand exactly where you're coming from. So the next one I have is tit for tat. It's where it's at. What do I mean by that? Um, so. When I was young, I was taught the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And then the joke was that the golden Rule really means that whoever has has the gold makes the rules. Unfortunately, I'm not that cynical. But in short, it's treat others the way you want to be treated. Um, and that that's a great way to. Um, to, to go through life and in terms of your career. And I'll just add that, um. Don't necessarily expect it to be reciprocated. If someone if you treat people well and they then in turn treat you badly. In some ways that's on them. That really shows who they are rather than who you are. And I wouldn't I wouldn't stop treating people well just because not everyone reciprocates in kind. But what do you do in a in a lower environment when the lawyer on the other side is is, you know, is acting in an unpleasant manner? Um. And. You know, I often think of this in terms of what people refer to as game theory. And the classic game theory paradigm is what's known as a prisoner's dilemma. And in the Prisoner's Dilemma, you have two two people who've been accused of committing a crime and and they were both together and one one's put in one cell, one's put the other cell. And if one of them confesses and the other one doesn't, then the one who confesses. Can can walk, um, and vice versa. And then if both of them confess, they both end up with a. With a with a small penalty. And if neither of them confesses, then both of them can walk. And so what do you do? The. If both of both of the prisoners do the right thing by each other in terms of remaining silent. Yeah, both will walk. But but, but the strategy that most game theorists agree has the best payoff. Assuming that you don't know whether the other person is going to confess or not. Um is is to is to confess because that would minimize, you know, the likely amount of time that you'll end up spending in prison. So how does this translate in terms of opposing counsel acting like like a jerk? Um, you might think that if if acting in a way that hurts the other side. By confessing is meant to produce the best expected outcome, then maybe. Maybe the best expected outcome is for for both both sides to act like jerks and be horrible to each other. But what's interesting is that this particular prisoner's dilemma assumes that there's only one event. There's only one opportunity to confess or not confess when you play, when you play the prisoner's dilemma out in the series, and it's more than just a single event. What they find is that what works best is what's known as a tit for tat approach because. If you treat someone badly. The first time, then the strategy that makes most sense for them is to treat you badly the next time. And similarly, if you treat them well the first time, the strategy that works best is for them to treat you well. So in some ways. The in terms of the iterated prisoner's dilemma. Um, you know, that's, that's a more realistic real life situation. What comes around goes around The lawyers that you're dealing with today who are representing the borrower may be representing the lender the next time around. Um, or maybe representing a different borrower. And so, you know. The legal community, even in a big market like the United States, is in some ways smaller than you realize. And so. Uh, yeah. The economists and the mathematicians, through analysis of game theory, have dedicated their lives to proving that bad juju will come back to bite you. And it does. But it's amazing how many lawyers forget that and act inappropriately when they feel like they have the upper hand and have more negotiating leverage. I mean, it shouldn't it shouldn't come as a surprise when after acting badly to opposing counsel, the, you know, the the tit for tat happens and and they get treated badly when the shoe's on the other foot and not necessarily even just in a transactional setting. I've seen in the leveraged finance world that, you know, these things do come back to bite you. So a lawyer that treats their opposing counsel badly may end up having to apply to the law firm of the opposing counsel. And you can imagine what what that conversation is like. Why would you hire someone who is horrible to other lawyers on opposite them on transactions? Because you can just imagine that they wouldn't necessarily be the most pleasant people to to have as colleagues. Um, similarly. If. If people don't like working with you, then. Then to the extent that they have a say in who will be opposite them on a particular transaction, they may choose not to work with you because they don't like working with you because it's unpleasant. Um, and maybe they'll end up working in house and, you know, having a choice of which counsel to work with. And why would they work with you if you've been horrible to them? So, um. Uh, also, uh, if, if you're negotiating a future, deal with them and or even. Yeah. The borrower that you represented when they had a whole lot of leverage and were buying into the transaction, Maybe that borrower is struggling to pay its interest now or struggling to meet its obligations under the under the credit agreement. So what does that mean when you when you go cap in hand to the lender and say, please, can you give me extensions and waivers and and indulgences and you're talking to this person that you're horrible to, you know, six months earlier and saying, can you be nice to me? Well, why would they? So. The flip side is also true. I've I've had various referrals from clients from from borrowers who are opposite me or law firms that were opposite me, who liked working with me so much that they ended up asking for me to work opposite them on on unrelated matters and sometimes sometimes an opposing, um, an opposing, uh, borrower or opposing entity that has hired their own lawyers sees, sees how you're conducting yourself on the other side and thinks, wow, I want them to be working for me next time. And so the next time they have a choice to to select counsel, maybe you'll get mandated because they they see. What you're capable of and see who you are and. And want to work with you. And I've even seen clients tell their own counsel, you know, the way you've acted is inappropriately. You know, you need to apologize for for your behavior. And frankly, once the lawyer apologizes, they they lose a lot of credibility, including in negotiations. So you definitely don't want to see both sides lawyers acting like jerks during negotiations. That's that's what I refer to as mutually assured destruction. It's the worst case scenario from a client's perspective because then they end up spending huge amounts of money to to, to, to fight fights that achieve very little value for their clients. And they spend lots of money for very little result. So it's important if you are facing opposing counsel that's being acting inappropriately to, you know, to try to deescalate things rather than escalate them, even though you may be tempted to to fight back. Um, but yeah, I definitely try to deescalate when dealing with rude lawyers and, and it doesn't mean you have to roll over either. I've certainly told lawyers who have been acting inappropriately that, you know, having further discussions while they're acting so rudely is unproductive. And we'll need to need to take instructions before proceeding further and just hanging up on the call. And um, and often that will result in client to client conversations and hopefully the next, next time we get on a call, you know, the conversations will be more productive. Um, because, you know, as I said, the legal world is smaller than a lot of people realize. Down the street from me are two people that I've known for decades. Um, and you know, when I connect with people in the law, I often notice I have 100 or 200 people in common with them. It's, um, it's a, it's a small sand pit. And you need to learn. You need to learn to play nice in the sand pit. But if you're dealing with other lawyers who are not playing nice, maybe tit for tat is something worth considering. Next one and this is this is important. Advise your clients. Um. And you think that that goes without saying that your lawyers shouldn't be told that they need to advise their clients? But what I mean by that, so imagine you go to a doctor, you've got a sore arm and it's really hurting you. So the doctor runs some tests and the doctor says, Well, I looked at these tests and something came up, so what do you want to do about it? So what do I want to do about it? What are my options? Shouldn't you be telling me what I should be doing? You're the expert, not me. But as silly as this sounds, junior lawyers do this all the time. So they'll they'll they'll produce an issues list and they'll say, here is problem one, here's problem two, here's problem three. And they send the issues list to the client and say, Can you please advise me on how you'd like to respond? Well, the clients the clients may have some ideas on some of them as to how to respond, but they're paying you for you for for for your ideas. They want to know what you think. Um, and. And so just producing issues list and not not giving your thoughts is not really advising the clients. It's spelling out the problems without giving any advice as to how to how to deal with the problems. And you don't necessarily the clients aren't necessarily going to agree with your answers all the time. And in fact, they may disagree most of the time, but they still want they still paying you for your advice and they want to know what you think. So when you when you email a client with with a problem and and ask how they would like to respond, but you don't have any suggestions at all as to potential options, then you're you're leaving everything in the hands of the client. Clients love it when you produce an email saying, Here's the problem, here are potential solutions A, B, and C, let me know. If you'd like to adopt any of any of those, or if there's anything else you'd rather do. So you've given them some ideas. They may take none of them or take one of them or multiple ones, but at least you've given them some food for thought and shown that you are actually thinking about the problem and how to solve it, rather than just passing on the problem as if it's not yours. Similarly, you know, often lawyers will receive mark ups from lawyers, from opposing counsel, and just forward them on to the client and say, just receive these comments from the other side. Let me know if you have any thoughts. Well. At that point, you're not advising. You're just a conduit. You're just a mailbox. And, you know, if you want a client to pay your fee, your legal fees and feel that you're adding value, and that's a great opportunity to do so and to say, well, I've looked at this markup and here are the five things that I think are most important to focus on, and here are the ways that I would address those. I would recommend addressing those, but let me know what you think. Much more valuable in terms of adding value. You want to you want to be more than just an intermediary. You want to be more than just a conduit or a mailbox. You want to be advising the clients. So there are some lawyers who feel like they're advising the client. If if the client asks, Can I do this? And your response is no. Or yes, sometimes yes is a good enough answer. But if you can answer, if no is the is the answer. Then you only really partially doing your job because the clients not often not really asking whether. Whether they can do the specific thing that they're asking for. They're really asking for how do I achieve my objective? And they may not even state what that objective is. If you can identify what what the client is trying to achieve, then a response along the lines of you can't do this the way you wanted to do it because of whatever reason. But there are 2 or 3 other ways where you might be able to get to where you want to be. And so if you present those other ways, then again, the client may may think, well, I like one of those and we'll do that instead. Or, you know, thank you for your suggestions, but I prefer an option that you didn't suggest, but at least you at least there's a perception that you're adding value and maybe you can't give the client. Exactly. Maybe there are no options that you can think of that will be able to achieve the client's objectives 100%. But maybe you've got some option that can get them 90% of where they want to be. And if you can give them a suggestion and say, Look, I can't give you exactly what you're asking for, but maybe if you do this, you can get close. And again, if you can get them 90% of what they want, shouldn't you be pointing that out and offering it to them? So, um. That's what constructive negotiations are all about. It's a constructive lawyer. A constructive lawyer will try to find ways of getting to. Yes. Without necessarily hurting the client's objectives. So if it doesn't hurt your client, why not say to the other side, I can't give you what you're asking for, but I can give you something else that's pretty close to what you want. So, um. But yeah, you need to think about not just what's being said, but what, what's, what's intended to be achieved by what's being said. And if you and if and if you can work out what the objective is, then the next step is actually. Advising to the best of your ability to try to help them get there. So next one and this is probably of all the things, it's smack bang in the middle, but it's probably the most important thing. And I've I've written a detailed article on it's very personal about me and how when I was a young lawyer, I didn't look after my own health. And I'm not going to go through it in a huge amount of detail. But just think, think it's really important for for for lawyers to focus on. On the mental and physical health because. A lot of a lot of junior lawyers especially feel like these are things that can be sacrificed in order to make the best impression at the firm and and be the most successful lawyer. But the truth of the matter is. Your career is not a sprint. It really is a marathon and you need to be able to last the distance. So. You know, there are plenty of law firms that will not intervene when a lawyer is is is hurting themselves by pushing their body and their mind harder than they can handle. So but it's really important for you to reflect on yourself and talk to the people who care about you, about whether or not you are. I'm burning yourself out or hurting yourself physically. And maybe maybe it's your loved ones or relatives or friends or personal trainer. But you do. You should you should talk to people about how you're progressing and people who actually really do do care about you because. You can't have a strong long term practice. If your body falls away, you only get one body. And once, once, once once it's broken, it's very hard to put back together and you only have one mind. And once you once you burnt out, it can be very hard to come back from that. And it's not just for your own self, it's for for for the people that are dependent on you and the people who care about you. It is a tough balance, but it can be done. So I've got a whole list of bullet points here on things that you can focus on in terms of improving your mental and physical health. I'll just go through some of them very quickly. Sleep can't begin to tell you how important sleep is. And it's the one thing that junior lawyers seem to want to sacrifice the most. Oh, yes. I pulled an all nighter last night and I'm pulling another all nighter tonight. You know, what's what's what's there to brag about that? I'd much rather say, you know what? I've worked really hard yesterday and I went to bed early because I felt like I deserved it. Try that one for size. You know, the truth is, you don't necessarily need to be on call all the time. You don't need to be working all all through the night if you're efficient. And there will be times where you may need to work late, maybe even through the night, but try to keep them to a to a bare minimum. And and to the extent that you can tag team with other lawyers who can cover for you or take over from you and and you know, delegation is really important, particularly if you want to take a vacation. You need to be able to take breaks and clear your mind and relax, develop interests and friendships outside of work. Um, learn how to relax if necessary, develop techniques such as yoga or mindfulness training and meditation. If necessary, get therapy. There's nothing, nothing, nothing negative about getting therapy. If you if you can be mentally stronger because you you're getting treatment and whether it's medical or or therapeutic or psychological, why not? I mean, you want to be the best person you can be. If if other people can help you get there, do it. So, um. Warren Buffett is famous for keeping big chunks of his calendar blocked out so that he can just think about things that are important. And I recommend that you do the same. Take some time out of your of your day of your week and and block out some time where you can spend that time thinking about your career development, your goals, and what you need to do. You know, take a step back and just think about. Your needs and priorities. Um. What else? As a junior lawyer, you want to say yes to as many people as possible. But the truth is, you need to learn to say no, because the truth is. In five years time, no one's going to really remember how many hours you build as a first year lawyer. But they will remember is the time when you took on too much and as a result, your work quality suffered and you made stupid mistakes. They'll remember those mistakes far more than they'll remember how many hours you build. So particularly as you're starting off as a lawyer, try to take on the amount of work that you can handle comfortably and do really, really well, because once you've made a good impression, those impressions last. And then then it becomes a reinforcing thing where people will want to work with you because they know you do high quality work. Don't don't focus on the hours because. Um, you know, yes, you bill by the hour, but you're not. You're not at a factory that sells widgets. You're. You're being employed because you provide high quality legal advice, and you want to make sure that the advice that you're giving and the work that you're doing is, is remains high quality. And if that means saying no, um, then say no. Or if you don't like saying no, maybe say I'm really busy at the moment, but if the partner that I'm working with thinks that I have capacity, then I'm happy to take it on. Maybe you might want to talk to that other partner and let let that partner be your gateway so that and protect you, particularly if you have a good relationship with them so that they can say no on your behalf. So you don't have to worry about whether it makes you look bad. Um, emails are can be a real challenge to deal with as a lawyer. You know, the number of emails that I get on a day to day basis always seems to be increasing and never seems to go down. And so I have to develop all these mail rules that take some of the mails that I know are not going to be high priority and puts them into folders and can check them. So some of them I check daily, sometimes I check some of them, I check weekly and some of them I check maybe monthly if at all, because I know that they're probably not relevant or not not time sensitive at all. So those are some ideas. Um, hopefully some of them will be helpful to you and hopefully some of them you can also work out as to what works best for you. So the next one, causality and career progression are complex. And they are, um. And so we live in a world where a lot of people like to think of things as as black and white and things are either career enhancing or or the opposite. And the truth of the matter is. Life is just not that simple. Some people talk about squiggly careers and my my career has been, you know, interesting. I've practiced in Australia and New York and now now in London. And so if you told me at the beginning of my career that it would take some. Really weird paths. Some of them at the time would have seemed like backward steps, but in the end, we're not. Um, I would have been amazed. Um, I never expected my career to turn out the way it did. And the truth of the matter is, it's not a linear thing. Um. Everyone has ups and downs. And again, some of the things that you may think of as being a negative may end up ultimately being a positive. My first year as a lawyer was in mergers and acquisitions, and I just struggled. I didn't enjoy practicing in that area. It wasn't for me. Um, and I felt in some ways like a failure because it wasn't for me. But the truth is I discovered banking and I really enjoyed it. And if it hadn't been for me saying that I didn't like working in a different area, I would have never found my true calling. And similarly, um, you know, there have been various steps along the way where things didn't work out the way I had wanted them to, but. But they worked out in the end. So don't think of your career as being solely. You know. A step in the right direction or a step in the wrong direction, because sometimes the best steps may be a sideways move. Sometimes what you think is of as a negative move actually will be the be the best thing that could possibly have happened for you in the long run. You just don't see it at the time. And so think every step in your career, you have a chance to to navigate and control your future. Um, your, um. Your past does not dictate your future in the way, like the way that some people might think it does. And I see life as being like a palimpsest, which is one of those ancient forms of writing on on on animal skins that, you know, when you, when you finish writing, you can scrape off the most recent layer and rewrite the page and you can see bits and pieces from the previous layer. But but the truth is, if things aren't going the way you want them to scrape off the top layer and start again, you know your past doesn't and shouldn't dictate your, your, your future and your destiny. It's just how you got to where you are. And there are some people who who started off slowly and then skyrocketed and there are some people who skyrocketed and then finished off slowly so. Don't don't assume that that your your hands are tied because of, you know, how your career has developed to this date. Your your future is very much within your control from here on. Grab it with both hands. And so at some point. No one asks what university you went to. It didn't matter. No one. Certainly no one asked me anymore where I went to university. And frankly, you know, the mistakes I made as a junior lawyer, no one even thinks about them anymore. No one cares. You know, the embarrassment that I suffered as a junior lawyer because people asked me questions and didn't know the answer or didn't know how to respond. You know, I developed capabilities back then that I don't need anymore and no one's ever going to ask me about it again. And that's fine. I don't I don't know whether I'm ever going to practice as an Australian lawyer again, but that that that experience certainly made me who I am. So don't think of the of the world as being just a decision tree where a decision at a particular point in your in your early career will change the entire future. So so that you. If you get it wrong, that's it. You're the most important decisions that you make aren't the ones that were made ten years ago. It's the ones that you that you made five minutes ago and the ones you're making now and the ones that you're making in ten minutes because those are the ones you have control over and those are the ones that are going to guide what happens to you right now. So if you make a mistake, pick yourself up. Scrape off the most recent page of that little palimpsest and start again. Don't, don't, don't. Don't be despondent. You have a lot more control over your career progression at all stages of your career than you probably realize. So you can shape your own career. The last one led into this one. And I give a Rolling Stones quote. Can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need. And so. There are lots of different paths that your career might follow in terms of a squiggly career. And there are a lot of people out there who will give you, whether it's your career guidance counselor at your law school or or your your peers or your your professors will love to tell you this is what makes a successful law graduate or a successful lawyer. But at the end of the day, if you want to be successful, the first question is what do you define as success? What will make you happy? What are what are your own personal career objectives? Because there are plenty of people who will tell you if you want to be successful, you need to work at a big law law firm or you need to make partner or whatever, whatever the advice is yours is. But. You know, if someone tells you take that well-worn career path or if someone says avoid that well-worn career path. You know, take all of that with a grain of salt. What's important is what's important to you. You're not right or wrong because people agree with you. You're not right or wrong because people disagree with you. You're right or wrong because you thought about it and your facts and your reasoning are right. And maybe what's right for you is to be a partner of big law law firm. Maybe what's right for you is being a non partner of a country law firm or working in-house or working outside the law altogether, or working in legal tech or or going on becoming a private equity hedge fund or investment banking person. You know, what's right for you is what's right for you. And so don't let other people tell you what's right. You need to think through what makes sense in your particular circumstances, what your goals are and what what you think would make you happy. So identify what you want to do, identify how you're going to get there and back yourself. Um, and ignore the consensus because. The consensus isn't always right. And if you really believe that what you're doing is the right thing for you, then then you should follow through on it. And gave the example of Albert Einstein, who who had an important thesis on general relativity that changed the way scientists thought about the world. But but the Nazi, you know, didn't like him primarily because he was Jewish. And they published a book entitled 100 Authors Against Einstein. And it was intended to discredit him. And when when he was asked about his response was, if I were wrong, then one of them would have been enough. And it's true. You don't need a it doesn't matter if 100 people think that you're wrong. You know, it's a matter of are you wrong? Have you thought it through? And if you've thought it through and. And you're convinced that after listening to the critics and and the naysayers, if you're convinced that you're right, definitely back yourself. So your legal education doesn't teach you how to be a lawyer? Well, it teaches you some things about how to be a lawyer, but it doesn't teach you everything. So what does it teach you? It teaches you legal skills. It teaches you how to apply law to facts. It teaches you how to do legal analysis to how to do legal research. Maybe if you're lucky, you might learn some drafting skills. Um. And you learn what the laws are and what the cases are. But, um, you know, when I started my career just over 25 years ago, uh, the joke was that first year law students start off thinking that they know everything, and when they end up graduating, they end up as, uh, as trainee lawyers or new lawyers who are who are starting off with the assumption that they know nothing. Um, so yeah, I mean, law students in their first year are often convinced of their own brilliance. And. And why wouldn't they be? They've, they've received top grades their whole career. So, um, so why wouldn't they think that they're smart? But, but by the time they graduate, they have often a better sense of how much they still have to learn. And so there are lots of skills that you can learn as a lawyer that you won't necessarily learn in law school. And I've listed a bunch of them here. So communication skills, client service, time management, project management, how to use technology effectively. I have to tell you, that's a really important one because I've seen lawyers who are extremely productive and extremely capable, not because they were brilliant at law school, but because they know how to use technology extremely effectively. Interpersonal skills, You know, as AI becomes more and more capable at doing, um, drafting and putting together documents and doing legal analysis, you know, the human skills and the personal skills become even more important. And so learn how to work with other people, learn how to inspire people and how to work with teams and achieve goals together, work with people with different backgrounds and cultures and, and acknowledge and respect the differences that you have with them and adapt your behavior if necessary and your communications according to who you're talking to. And that's not something that I does, especially well. And if you can. Understand and people talk about diversity and inclusion. But in many respects, this is what it's all about. It's about learning how to work with other people and how to help everyone in your group succeed. So resilience. You know how to bounce back when you have adversity and you will have adversity. We all do. Self-preservation. We talked about physical and mental health earlier. Emotional intelligence and how to regulate your emotions. Really important because there'll be times where you have setbacks and it's going to affect you emotionally and you need to know how to bounce back from that and how to help others bounce back when they are suffering emotionally. A negotiation skills really important. But it's not just how to negotiate contracts or how to negotiate a settlement, but how to negotiate with your clients. You know, how do you talk about your legal fees, for example, or quotes or how to deal with engagement letters, how to negotiate with your colleagues if you need them to cover for you or to help you on something and how to read people. Again, this is not something that does particularly well. You know, how do you read the room? How do you understand everyone's motivations? Where are the people coming from? How are they reacting to what you say? What are they interested in? What would motivate them? What would motivate them? And there are plenty of other skills that you won't learn in in law school. How do you how do you manage your finances? How do you build businesses? How do you how do you develop strategies for building businesses? How do you how do you get on the stage and talk to strangers? How do you pitch for work or or respond to RFPs? How do you deal with the crisis? What happens when when things go wrong And how do you how do you how do you cope with that? What's what do you do when people do things that are inappropriate in the office? So learning how to think like a lawyer is much more than applying law to the facts. And that's a great thing, particularly as, you know, the the easy bits potentially get replaced. By. It's a challenge, but it's also an opportunity to to really show that you are a multidimensional person, that that can't be replaced by because there's so much more to who who you are as a person and as a lawyer. And so the opportunity is to identify the skills that are not taught in law school as well as obviously the ones that are that best align with your own strengths. And once you've worked out what those skills are, you should play to those strengths and build your career around playing around the areas in which you are or can be strongest. So conclusion. Um, in conclusion, I've given you a nice, long presentation, and I've covered a whole lot of topics. And but this presentation doesn't give you all the answers. Hopefully it's giving you some guidance on on on areas which may be helpful, but there are lots of areas where you'll have to find this out for yourself. Um, but hopefully some of these topics will be able to provide you with guidance for your future career and for your life decisions. So. Go through. Go through the these topics and and if you find any of the advice helpful, please do pay it forward. Um, and. Provide advice to the next generation of lawyers because. You know, when people ask me, what am I proudest of as a lawyer, I don't talk about, you know, a particular deal that I worked on or the fact that I made partner or that I'm working at a great law firm. I mean, it's all great and I'm definitely proud of all of that. But if you want to know the thing that I'm most proud of. It's it's it's the proteges. It's like one of the questions that people ask about my firm is who's here because of you? You know, I'm very proud of the junior lawyers who, as a result of my guidance and sponsorship, have climbed the ranks and have ultimately made partner. I'm proud of the clients that I've been able to institutionalize, who now have relationships throughout the firm in multiple touch points and and you know that it's not just what I've done for myself and think as you become more senior you realize that that that your legacy. Is more important than than how much money is in your pay packet every week? Yeah, yeah, sure. Sure. Build up a successful career by all means. But at the end of the day, you're going to retire. And if all you've done is just earned money. You may well find that it's an empty feeling at the end. But if you can build up a legacy and you can point to real accomplishments, you know, didn't just bring in money for the firm and bring in money for myself, but I've I've built up a practice. I've helped other people with their careers. I've given people guidance. And none of that would have happened if it hadn't been for me. I have. I'm not just leaving behind. Emptiness. I'm leaving behind a legacy. I haven't just stood on the shoulders of giants. I am the giant. And I've helped other people stand on my shoulders and think. You'll find that if you can do that, you'll find not just at the end of your career a higher level of job satisfaction, but even as you go along, a really high level of job satisfaction, knowing that it's not just about you, it's about all the people around you who admire and respect you because they know that you have their backs and you're a part of their team. So that concludes my presentation. As I said, I'm on LinkedIn. If you want to connect with me or follow me on LinkedIn, feel free to do so. I'd like to give advice along those lines. So thank you all for your time.

Presenter(s)

LG
Lewis Grimm
Partner
Jones Day

Course materials

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