Practice Development Quick Reads for July 2016

What’s It’s Like to Live With You

There’s no shortage of articles addressing stress reduction for lawyers. But there aren’t nearly as many articles addressing the stress experienced by those who live with lawyers. Both you and your life partner live with the pressures and analytic/adversarial energies inherent in the practice of law, but you may not have the tools to handle the inevitable emotional spillovers of stress that can harm your relationship. In How to Stay Married to a Lawyer, psychologists Laura Freeman and Will Meyerhoffer provide excellent, substantive techniques for talking about and working with relationship stress caused by the profession. They know of where they speak: one is married to an attorney, the other is a former attorney at Sullivan and Cromwell who switched careers to become a psychologist. 

How You May be Unwittingly Contributing to the Underperformance of Your Team

In my 14 years of coaching my clients to become more effective managers of the people they depend on to get work done, I’ve encountered it literally hundreds of times: lawyers expressing frustration (or exasperation) that their associates, paralegals, assistants, or office managers just aren’t performing up to snuff. Twenty percent of the time, the under-performer has an insurmountable skill or attitude deficit. And eighty percent of the time, the lawyer is contributing to the problem but doesn’t see it (or they see it but don’t know how to take steps to change their own behavior). Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, the founder of Attorney At Work, succinctly describes Five Ways to Drive Your People Crazy and how to stop driving them crazy — which, in turn, will help them to not drive YOU crazy.   

Simple, Practical Guidance to Dramatically Improve Your Punctuality

No one disputes that reputation is one of (if not the) most important assets you can cultivate as an attorney. Yet, most lawyers think of their own reputation in the abstract (“people think I’m a very good litigator”). But, in most people’s minds, reputation is made up of smaller components (“she’s excellent with forensics,” or “he drafts brilliant trusts” or “really nice guy, but he’s always late”). Because everyone is so pressed for time, we all remember it when someone gets pegged in our brain as a person who’s habitually late (even if only a little late). If that’s you (or someone on your team), read this simple solution from my buddy Mike O’Horo: How to Be On Time (And Raise The Odds That Others Will, Too).

Business Acronym of the Month: PEBKAC

Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Computer. Hmmm… Yes, it can take a few seconds to get what this means. Too often our first response when something doesn’t go right with our computers is to blame the software or the hardware (or the IT people who installed them), instead of simply accepting the reality that WE are the problematic variable in the equation. WE are not using a good password utility so we waste ridiculous amounts of time trying to log in to all kinds of sites and apps; WE never learned how to use our software sufficiently; WE didn’t check to see if the device is connected to the network; WE never read “the manual.” Which reminds me of the more widely known cousin of PEBKAC: RTFM  (Read The F*&#ING Manual!) Now that you know this one, I predict you’ll start noticing PEBKAC rear its frustrating head all around you.

A Truly Brilliant and Creative (and Completely Entertaining) Music Marketing Video by Two Criminal Defense Lawyers

A shout-out to my Assistant, Jude, who found this: two Texas criminal defense lawyers in their office with their guitars, singing an original (humorous and informative) song about pot possession called “Don’t Eat Your Weed”.  It’s an exemplar of tapping one’s natural talents in the service of marketing.

About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Law Firm Coach and Consultant

Bill Jawitz has been coaching lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

He can be reached at or at 203.806.1300.

I maintain a deep library of hundreds of best-of-breed checklists, templates, guides, and white papers on every aspect of managing a legal practice and law firm, from lawyer marketing plans, to hiring process checklists, to alternative fee engagement letters.

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