Blind optimism

Blind optimism

Your clients are successful enough to afford your advice and counsel. What can you learn from how they conduct themselves, make decisions, and allocate scarce resources such as time and attention? Have you ever discussed such things with them? Here's one lesson from them you can apply immediately.

In Lessons From the Business World, Steven Harper urges law firm leaders to read an article in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review, “Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life,” by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams, which addresses "the loss of balance between an individual’s professional and personal life."

...people tend to ignore work/life balance until ‘something is wrong’. But that kind of disregard is a choice, and not a wise one. Since when do smart executives assume that everything will work out just fine? If that approach makes no sense in the boardroom or on the factory floor, it makes no sense in one’s personal life.

This idea applies equally to lawyers' business development decision-making. In the quote above, if we substitute "business development" for "work/life balance" and "personal life," "lawyers" for "executives" and "people," and add "courtroom" to "boardroom," you get

...lawyers tend to ignore business development until something is wrong. But that kind of disregard is a choice, and not a wise one. Since when do smart lawyers assume that everything will work out just fine? If that approach makes no sense in the courtroom or boardroom, it makes no sense in one's business development life.

I understand that this is, at least in part, a habit, the last vestige of the 25-year Golden Age of Law Firms that ended in 2008. During that halcyon period, excess demand assured that enough business would always show up every year. Under such conditions, assuming that things will somehow work out was rational. After all, for the bulk of most lawyers' careers at that time, it had.

Intellectually, we know that those days are permanently behind us. Yet, our behaviors suggest an unhealthy degree of denial. Don't wait until something goes irreparably wrong. Start now to take control of where your work and revenue come from.

Mike O'Horo

Speaking of blind spots, you can eliminate a big one by downloading our eBook, The Blind Spot that Keeps Lawyers from Doubling Their Income