Yesterday was one of those beautiful, “Goldilocks” days in South Carolina – not too hot, not too cold. Though I have a fairly long to-do list this week I made time for a brief, 15-minute afternoon walk to clear my head. What I didn't expect was to reflect on where I am with my firm and career - sure enough, I did.
I have been working on my firm's 2018 year-to-date financial balance sheet and it got me thinking about the non-financial balance sheet you build when you spend your time representing people who are dealing with a death, incapacity, or just planning for their future. It's so easy to stay on the task treadmill of running your own business without reflecting on what it means. There is always something to do and you watch the months pass as you do the work, pay the bills, and walk through a day, a week, a month, a quarter, and then a year. Tempus fugit indeed!
It's hard to believe but I have been out on my own practicing law for 2 years and 6 months. Financially, I have made ends meet and have been lucky enough to turn a small profit each year. I push hard to improve my work's quality – drafting, revising, re-drafting, addling clauses for situations I didn't imagine when I first wrote the document. It's called a practice for a reason – you never stop learning, never stop growing, and never stop improving.
I have been lucky to represent many terrific clients obtained through marketing or, more often, referrals and word-of-mouth. Earning and keeping each client is hard work – you must balance their expectations with the likely result based on facts and law. You cannot always predict how a case or matter will go – I've won some I should've lost, lost some I should've won, and come out just right on other cases. I can say, for each one, I gave the work all I could.
The real balance sheet is this – my firm's real net worth equals the extent to which my clients' lives are improved or better because of the work I have done for them. It is a two-way equation and my clients have made my life much better by giving meaning to my work. The days may be long, the work may be tough, the subject-matter hard, but always worth the effort.