Becoming "Drawn In" Through 2015 and Beyond
I recently became inspired while reading through profiles on
linkedin.com based on the
#RoadNotTaken. In essence, several titans of their respective industries share stories
about "fork in the road" moments in their careers and they marvel
over "what could have been" while simultaneously expressing
joy over the professional routes they chose.
In one piece, Suze Orman discusses explains how her actual passion was
to open "hot tub café",
but after being gifted $50,000 in seed money her investing naivete caused
her to lose every dime. Orman then became emboldened to become informed on any and all things
related to investing and we know how the story ends.
I suppose I had my own #RoadNotTaken moment about five years ago. I previously
worked in "Biglaw", making pretty good money. But I reached a fork in the road moment
when one day, I informed the managing partner in my department that I
wanted to leave "early" at 5:00 p.m. in order to see my daughter's
recital at 7:00p.m., to which the (female) partner sarcastically retorted
"Isn't that what your wife's for?"
At that moment, I knew I was probably on my way to becoming yet another
biglaw cliché. No matter how many hours I logged, it would never
be enough; no matter how much I earned for the firm, I would always be
a fungible asset given the scores of attorneys who would kill for similar
jobs. I have no problem working hard; indeed, I probably put in
more hours practicing on my own than I did at firms. But I wanted to be able
to control my own schedule and give myself flexibility that I knew could
never happen where I worked before. Shortly thereafter, I began laying
the foundation for what would become Cannon Legal Group.
Today, I am proud of where Cannon Legal Group has gone. I started with
only a few clients, most of whom were simply friends and family. Thanks
to a lot of hard work, I managed to grow my practice to the point where
literally hundreds of cases would come through a year.
Unfortunately, this is not to say that everything was easy, or that the
directions I chose to move the firm were always optimal. I oftentimes
could act impulsively, making quick rash decisions for the sake of immediate growth.
Family law is a practice that is highly emotional; clients deserve the ultimate amount
of respect and patience. I have slowly realized over the years that with
clients who are already emotionally damaged and feel betrayed, oftentimes
a display of empathy and respect nearly more important than getting a
favorable result in court. In that sense, I often "lost my way"
in terms of showing clients that empathy; I became purely "result-oriented"
and I reasoned, that should be enough.
These miscues were exacerbated by the fact that as a result of many strategic
decisions I made regarding growing the practice were not ideal. Attempted
forays into other practice groups simply created additional learning curves
that compromised my ability to handle existing caseload. Staff that was
hired lacked the urgency required to act professionally. This was a result
of me not being directly involved enough with their early training. I
take responsibility for these early miscues, and I thank God that I still
managed grow my practice and please the overwhelming majority of my clients.
But now, much like in 2008, I am at another crossroads. I have decided
to put the focus of my practice back to where it always should have been.
I am a "Family Only" firm now. No more forays into estate planning,
or probate litigation, or employment litigation. I have a host of brilliant
attorneys on speed dial whom I will more than happily refer for these issues.
Although there have been some changes in personnel, I am no longer willing
to impulsively bring in new people just for the sake of "growth".
Rather, I will steadily look to bring in only those who understand the
direction that I am pointing this firm.
The brilliant divorce attorney Lee Rosen once posited an
excellent article about how the best attorneys are "drawn in" and not "pushed
away". Those who "push away" start their own practice or
career because they are driven by what they do
not want to do (e.g. work for unbearable partners; be forced to bill 2300 hours+
a year at Biglaw); "Drawn In" attorneys practice in their respective
field because something about it "draws them in" (e.g. having
a flexible schedule; being able to help the "little guy" and
not just huge corporations, etc.).
Rosen's thesis is that "drawn in" lawyers are the most energetic
because they are motivated by doing what they love as opposed to
not doing something they hate. When I started Cannon Legal Group, it was borne
from a "Pushed Away" moment. Now I recognize how truly lucky
I am to do something that I love and I realize the opportunity I have
to take full advantage of each and every client relationship.
Do I feel like answering
every single call,
every day no matter how many times I have answered the same thing (often to the
same person)? No. But I do understand that what is easy and routine for
me, is terrorizing to others. I understand that I have a responsibility
to help others navigate through these very murky waters. I understand
that I need to be more "drawn in" to my practice.
So with that, I would like to announce that Cannon Legal Group is undergoing
several internal changes right now in order to better serve each and every
existing client as well as all future clients. I ask that many of you
have patience as I continue this restructuring and I will always be both
lucky and blessed to have your business.