This Week in Young, Hungry and Committed, Vivian Sobers, virtual office NYC attorney, examines how she has personally changed as a result of a successful solo practice.
As I was thinking about a topic to write about this week, I kept drawing a blank, which was a nice mental vacation from my otherwise frenetic thought process. I was going to write about how I have been reading Justice Sotomayor’s book a little each evening and how incredibly inspiring I find it.
At least it’s not One L by Scott Turow.
Speaking of 1L’s, I was going to write about how I finally acknowledged my heavy workload and got an intern. But, since my new 1L does not start until next week, I will save the topic for another time. I want to thank Simon Kogan, a fellow attorney and blog reader/commenter for the inspiration to leverage a law school student to ease my practice panic.
So, as I was trying to come up with a topic, I thought about what I had been doing all week.
Have I normalized the chaotic lifestyle of solo practice?
I cannot tell if business is slow or if I have just gotten comfortable with the hectic craziness that is solo law practice.
I reflected on how I didn’t think I was that busy, which got me to panicking like the true fatalist I am. Then, I mentally went over the last seven days. They were nuts. In a prosaic moment, I realized that I am working a lot. I realized business is not slow. I’ve just gotten used to a bit of the chaos.
My new homeostasis is worrisome.
Does solo practice change you on a deeper, more permanent level?
Sometimes, I will unconsciously reflect on the person I have become. The only way to measure who you are currently is to use who you were in the past as a reference point.
I still remember my first day of law school. I was starry-eyed. I remember going to my first torts class and feeling completely overwhelmed.
Looking back on that Vivian Sobers, I am not sure if she would recognize the Vivian Sobers of today. Sure, we still have an intense work ethic and hunger for success in-common, but that Vivian Sobers was so insecure. That Vivian Sobers would have never dreamed of starting her own law firm. That Vivian Sobers didn’t have the confidence. That Vivian Sobers might have been happy to reverse commute to Long Island for $34,000 a year associate job without healthcare.
How do I avoid getting jaded?
I get worried that I have lost that person sometimes and with it, her love of the law. The now familiar chaos of solo practice can wear down your soul. Between practice management, marketing, networking and the actually practice of law, you can get bitter quickly and not even realize it. If you don’t take a minute in your crazy day to breathe, you will become jaded.
Everytime I go to court, I am reminded to be grateful for the life I have.
I see attorneys that are so bitterly jaded, so beaten down that it makes me cringe. It’s their mannerisms, their trudging steps, their slumped posture, their permanent scowls. It’s obvious they don’t love the law. Maybe they did at one point, but it is now a loveless marriage. It’s obvious that being a lawyer is all about the paycheck for them.
They are signposts for my career development. I do what I do so I will not end up like them.
One of my biggest fears is that when I normalize the crazy lifestyle solo attorneys deal with on a daily basis, that I am one step closer to taking it for granted and sliding down the slippery slope of hating my first passion: the law.
Even the act of writing this blog recharges my love for the law. It lets me look back at what I have done over the past seven days and take it all in. In ten years, when I am reflecting on my personal evolution, I can read this post and remember what I do not want to become.
My name is Vivian Sobers. I am Young, Hungry and in a war against becoming jaded.Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I am committed to replicating my success for many years to come.
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.
Give yourself another 10 years and when your are in mid-life crisis, you will be that jaded, beaten down attorney.
No doubt the pressures of the practice can it lend itself to overwhelm over time. However, from what we’ve seen at Law Firm Suites, the attorneys who are passionate about their practice area, or the law in general, stay upbeat and are generally more financially successful then their peers who practice solely for economic gain. My recommendation to any attorney is that if you are feeling jaded or unhappy about your practice, then change practice areas, or do something else outside of law, that better meets your personal interests and passions – even if that means making less money in the short term.
If you have the privilege of being educated and licensed to practice law, then you have the ability to change your situation. Life is too short to be be unhappy because of your work. I give this advice from experience, because at one time I felt similar to you about my own law practice.
I write about this subject at length in my eBook, 7 Deadly Mistakes that Prevent Law Practice Success. It is so important, I saved the discussion for the end of the eBook. I encourage you to download it (it’s free), and begin changing your situation if, in fact, you are feeling jaded or beaten down.
I am not beaten down. You get beaten down when you don’t have an outside life, and have no exit plan. But there are some days that the juggling can make you scowl – like when you have three matters in three different courts and no judge wants to give you and adjournment.
Thank you for you comment.
Every attorney has “that day” – where you are trying to get from Richmond County to the Bronx with a layover in Kings. I believe Vivian’s point is more to the people she observes on a regular basis that always seem to be having “that day.”