Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to take a step back and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. For busy lawyers, taking the time to do this doesn’t come naturally. So I’m going to make it easy for you. I’m here to remind you of some things you should be grateful for.
Your Personal Life
Let’s face it, we all have our share of problematic relationships in our families, as well as with our friends. That said, most of us also have relationships that we treasure and value. Remember those valued relationships on the days when a family member or friend disappoints you. And, while you’re at it, do it again on Thanksgiving.
Your Professional Life
As one who interacts with lawyers on a regular basis, I have certainly heard my share of woes. Here’s just a sampling:
- “My clients are too needy.”
- “My clients don’t pay.”
- “There are too many lawyers to compete with.”
- “This job is too stressful.”
- “I can’t find good help.”
- “I’m bored.”
- “My opposing counsel is a jerk.”
I’m sure you can all add a few more to the list. But let’s put this in perspective. There’s hardly a job out there that doesn’t have some of these problems. If you weren’t practicing law, similar and equally frustrating headaches would surface in some other fashion.
In short, that’s life if you have to work for a living.
What’s Good About Being a Lawyer
I can identify three things that are true for most practicing lawyers. Of course, they are not true for everyone, but I sincerely believe they are true for the vast majority.
First, we are part of a respected profession (notwithstanding all of the lawyer jokes out there). We’re proud to tell others we are lawyers and many look up to us. Often we are leaders in our communities, and the doors for these opportunities frequently open simply because we are lawyers. We should be grateful for that.
Second, we make a decent living — a living that is usually within the expectations we had when we started law school. No one goes to law school hoping to someday own a jet that they can use to travel the world to their four vacation homes. Most attend law school with the goal of being able to own a nice car and home, fully or partially fund college for their children, and have a modestly comfortable retirement. Most of the lawyers I know have achieved or are on their way to achieving these goals. We should be grateful for that.
Third, most of us actually help people. Some more directly than others, such as those who practice bankruptcy, family law, criminal law and personal injury. Others help more indirectly by supporting the work of companies that employ people. We each make an impact, the extent of which is primarily limited by our own choice of legal practice. Let’s be grateful for that.
In short, there’s more to be grateful for than most lawyers realize. I hope this list reminds you of that. And I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.
Roy Ginsburg is a lawyer coach and consultant who works with attorneys and law firms across the country in the areas of business and career development, as well as strategic and succession planning. He has practiced law for more than 30 years – in law firms large to small and as in-house counsel. He still practices as a part-time solo practitioner in area of legal marketing ethics.
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