Financial success and work satisfaction – the perfect combination
There are two new titles in the practicePRO library that can help lawyers be happier in their jobs in two ways: inner fulfillment and proper compensation.
Kathleen Paukert, author of The Fulfilled Lawyer: Create the Practice You Desire, doesn’t have a lot of time for the negativity she increasingly hears from lawyers about the practice of law. Newly called lawyers complain on social media that law school was a waste of time and money, others are frustrated at the inflexibility of firms when they try to juggle work and family, while other lawyers end up hating their jobs or burning out. Paukert, on the other hand, has created a practice that gives her satisfying work and a good living with the right level of work/life balance.
So what’s her secret? In her view, the law remains the noble profession it always was, so if lawyers are increasingly unhappy in it they need to take hard look at their expectationsand motivations. If you’re working in an area of law you don’t like, ask yourself why. Is it worth sacrificing home life to meet billable hour targets for the huge office and high salary? Or can you make do with a little less? are lawyers operating out of enjoyment of what they do, or out of fear of what might happen if they make a change?
Paukert puts the onus squarely on the lawyer: if you aren’t happy, it’s on you to do something about it. That “something” is up to each individual, and her book covers many of the possibilities. There are chapters for those who want to stay in their jobs but make it more rewarding and there are chapters for those considering more drastic changes, such as leaving a firm, changing areas of law or striking out on their own.
The focus always comes back to looking inward and making a cold, hard assessment of yourself. what kind of lawyer are you? what kind do you want to be? Does your personality match the kind of law you practise? What kind of clients do you want to work with, and can you make changes to attract them if you aren’t already?
Finally, to rebut the comment Paukert often gets (“easy for her to say!”), she uses examples of her own career ups and downs throughout the book. The takeaway message is that anyone can make the practice of law fulfilling if they are willing to make the right changes.
When speaking of workplace fulfillment, compensation is a big component. The 6th edition of Compensation Plans for Law Firms, edited by James D. Cotterman examines how firms compensated their partners, associates and staff in the years since the financial crisis of 2007/8. Since that time, some firms disappeared while others made drastic changes to adapt to financial pressures, new technologies and changing client needs.
The message this book offers is that “any compensation plan can work at any firm, and any compensation plan can fail at any firm.” while best practices are suggested here, there isn’t one solution for all firms.
Each situation, history, personnel (and personalities), financial goals and pressures need to be considered and weighed. The book is divided into chapters dealing with partners, Of Counsel, associates, paraprofessionals and staff.
Compensation is an emotional topic that goes to the heart of how someone feels about the value of their work. when handled poorly, bad feelings can cause trouble in the workplace. The lessons and examples offered have been taken from studying the best ideas (and cautionary tales) in the legal marketplace for the past twenty-five years.
The practicePRO Lending Library has more than 100 books on a wide variety of law practice management topics. Ontario lawyers can borrow books in person or via email. A full catalogue of books is available online (practicepro.ca/library). Books can be borrowed for three weeks. LawPRO ships loaned books to you at its expense, and you return books at your expense.
Tim Lemieux is Claims Prevention & Stakeholder Relations Co-ordinator at LAWPRO.