When thinking about a subject for my blog this week, I decided to take the plunge and discuss that I really believe that most of the lawyers I meet don’t aim high enough.  The goals they start out with are ones they can easily reach. True, many of them never even reach those, but I am now thinking that is because they are dull and boring and don’t excite the spirit enough to be committed to actualizing them.

What about if instead of just wanting more revenue, the lawyer’s umbrella goal (read my book for an explanation) was to become a judge?  Certainly if the lawyer were in desperate financial shape that might not be appropriate but there are many attorneys out there who only think they need more income.

Wouldn’t the juices start flowing if it could be shown that a high lofty goal would benefit the attorney in more ways than simply lock stepping into traditional goal setting.  Simply overcoming the resistance to thinking BIG will build confidence.  This confidence then can be spread down into the attorney’s everyday life.

One of the valuable tools I present to coaching clients is to discuss how many more years of productive work lies ahead for each.  A twenty five year old has 45 years if his/her health holds out.  The fifty year old still has 20 years in this day and age. That doesn’t mean full time work all those years and there may be some break in time for children, etc. but the law allows us to work will into our “later years”. We are then EXPERIENCED ATTORNEYS.

When lawyers think in terms of years, they can begin to see that they have quite a bit of time to make changes and morph into lots of ways.  Thinking of how far one could go in that time, is exciting.

I think I have been guilty of this myself.  I often just plan for the next year and I used to plan just to survive. This is no fun.  I’ve decided I’m going to reach very high (maybe not president!) but set some realistic but a lot higher goals than I have been working on.  Want to take this journey with me?   Give me a call at 831 466-9132 and we’ll talk about it.


What that means in legal terms is changing or adding a different area of the law to your practice.   Below is a reprint of an article I did in my former column as Philida, the Oracle  for BIG NEWS FOR SMALL FIRMS, State Bar Publication.  Good information here:


Dear Philida,

I opened my solo practice three years ago doing social security work which I had previously done as a law clerk. I would now like to expand my business in bankruptcy. Do you have any suggestions about how I can become competent in the field as I don’t have much time or money at this point.

Puzzled in  Long Beach


Dear Puzzled,

And probably perplexed. This is like starting a new practice and holds all the good, bad and ugly parts with the additional piece that you also have to keep your other practice going strong.

My suggestions are: First, find a mentor. Look for someone, maybe in your Bar Association, who has been doing bankruptcy for a long time and doesn’t feel that helping an attorney will be competition. Or someone a little out of your geographical area where you wouldn’t be competing. Find out what it takes to set up a practice.

Next, make a list of your major expenses. One would be buying new software (find out from your mentor which is the best). Another would be a budget for classes you need to take and groups that you need to join. Also you will need some funds for advertising and marketing. This would include expanding your web site. Be realistic. Decide where this money will come from. Do you need a small loan? With interest rates so low right now, it might be time to go to your local Credit Union. They frequently have small loans available without collateral for small businesses. You will have to give them a business plan but that would be good for you to do anyway.

Find out what pro bono services for bankruptcy there are in your community. These are usually legal aid or other types of low cost legal clinics. Volunteer so that you can learn the fundamentals of the business and work on real cases with supervision. Your mentor, especially if he/she is very busy, may let you come into the office and work on cases pro bono ( or at a minimum rate).

Last, find out who are the “ players” in bankruptcy in your community. Go to your local Court and meet some of the lawyers and judges that work there. Sit in on a couple of hearings.

Gear up to spend considerably more time and energy on your practice. You may be working evenings and weekends for awhile but it will all be worth it as you have already proven yourself to be a productive lawyer and good business person if you have had a solo practice for three years. It is now just a matter of building on the skills you already possess. Also, you have picked a good parallel area to open a practice because your social security clients (old and new) will be a great referral source. When you are ready, be sure to do a giant mailing with follow ups to all of them.

Puzzle Solved ( how bold I am!)



Sorry, I missed yesterday.  I know you are all waiting with bated breath (that’s holding your breath in fear. I just looked it up) for my new blog.  So here goes:

I asked myself as I coach more and more attorneys, what holds back attorneys from working their goals.  You have to understand that as a collaboration, the client and I set goals that are derived from what he or she wants to accomplish.  That is the client’s decision in coaching.  So if he or she and I have an agreement that working those goals will make the client richer, happier, more successful, have more leisure time, or whatever else they want, why doesn’t the attorney work them?

What happens time after time, that many clients have some reason that the goals are not even started.  Not to instill guilt because that is not healthy, but I ask myself what the heck is going on?

Now, we do know that some people don’t really like to set goals. The Myers/Briggs Temperament system can spot those people and we can work with them a little differently.  However, still if a person is scattered and not focused , it is extremely difficult to be successful.  For example if a solo is trying to practice in too many areas of the law, this can be not only unsuccessful but very anxiety producing.   Think of all the different target markets to solicit and all the different laws to learn.  It is a disaster waiting to happen.

Good time management needs to be leaned and used.  The discipline to plan a calendar out the week before seems overwhelming to some but is the bedrock of getting a lot done without a great deal of anxiety. Everyone who is a lawyer found a way to get through law school and pass the bar.  This took the same kind of time management. So why are many attorneys so resistant to learning and using time management on a consistent basis?

Probably the answer comes in very personal ways, such as:

  • To be held accountable for accomplishing something in a given time produces anxiety when its not done. Better to never start at all.
  • Better not to start something that they might not finish.
  • Better to keep putting goals off to do when there is a “better time”.
  • Better to fail so that people can’t expect more.

These are just a few of the answers I’ve come up with.  I’m sure there are plenty more.  Do you see yourself in any of this?  If so, let me know.  I can help. 


As Steve Jobs said: “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been NO for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”.

This actually sounds like a great idea.  That question should give you a good idea if you are at least contented with your work.  If not, then just answering NO, even if it is only to the mirror, is not a solution.

There are several steps you need to take:

  • Determine exactly what is it about the work that you dislike. This is easier said than done.  Is it the clients? Is it the actual work? Is it your co workers or boss?  Is it the stress? Not enough income?  exactly what is it?
  • Next, determine what you do like about your work.  This is usually easier.
  • Take one of the items you have determined you don’t like about your work.  For instance, maybe it is the long hours and the stress that produces.  Ask yourself if this item could change would I want to go to work?
  • If the answer is still NO, go onto the other items you have identified and ask yourself that same question.
  • What you are trying to do with this exercise is see if small changes could make you happier or if you have to chuck the whole thing and start over again with a complete change.
  • If changing individual items could produce a better environment, then begin to work on those. If you don’t like the long hours and stress, can you re-frame that by making less income? Can you delegate more?  Do you have someone in your organization you can talk this over with?
  • If you come up against a lot of push back or negative feedback with a small item, it may develop into a large item that needs significant change but you won’t know unless you begin.

By doing this exercise you should be able to determine if enough change can be realized to allow you to stay in your present situation.  If not, then you need to start looking for another job.  Face this fact.  Don’t make excuses.

Take the time to plan exactly what will make you want to get up and go to work each morning.  Work with a coach or create a step by step plan to find a way to grow in what you want your life to be.

Most importantly, don’t let yourself get into another job where you will be doing this exercise again in a year!

Keeping up with our June review, next week we’ll look at feeling lonely and how to make a fuller life for yourself.


After last week’s analysis, you have found you need more money. This is not just money to take a trip to Paris but a real need to up your income so you can lead a reasonable and comfortable life. It’s OK to want money to go to Paris but that’s not what we are talking about here.  This is a necessity task because you are not covering your basic needs.

1. First question:   HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

You can answer this quickly by looking at the accounts that you did last week.  How much more a month are you running short? Say it is $1,000.  That means that you have to generate $250 a week more. If it is a much larger amount then you need to allow yourself to know that. No whining here.  This is an important life situation.


Again, you will be doing this from the accounts that you got together last week.  Can you cut out lattes? Can you decrease your spending on food? Can you bring your lunch to work? Can you change child care arrangements? Only you can know what you might be able to do without.  It is very possible that you can get that $1,000 down at least 25% just by decreasing your spending.


I know this seem so simple but most people are so stressed by this situation that they fail to see the easy way to determine what steps to take.  Could you raise your fee?  If you presently charge $200 an hour and if you are billing 30 hours a week, raising your fee to $215 an hour will increase your income by $450 a week!

If you are an employee on a fixed salary, you can ask for a raise.  Even a 5% raise can sometimes make the difference.  If you haven’t been getting an annual cost of living increase, now is the time to bring that up.  Hit your boss with figures from reliable sources and give information on any increased work you are performing.

If you are in real trouble, you can find a second job to bring in income.  This may be on the weekend or as an UBER driver but you will need to do whatever is necessary to get back in the black.

Can your partner earn some income? Many stay at home mothers can find ways to increase revenue.  Some who have bachelors degrees  can take the test to become substitute teachers so that their hours are the same as their children. Or how about working at a store on weekends while the partner is home with the kids.

Once you first find out how much more money you need each month, there are infinite ways to make that happen.



How many times have you heard that?  Bottom line is that you need income to live.  The manner of living is different for everyone but bottom line, it still takes money to fiance eating, housing, clothing, and other basic needs.

Let’s first find out if you presently are making enough money to fund a reasonable lifestyle.  Again, we get into questions as to what is a reasonable life style?  Studies have shown us that $75,000 a year presently can provide a suitable life style in today’s world that will provide security and less worry.  I’m not sure if that is for only one person or covers a family.  Kids in college and having a  retirement plan doesn’t seem likely to be available  with only $6,250 before taxes a month to spend. Do you buy the $75,000 idea? It doesn’t really matter for our analysis as we are going to be looking at you as an individual with certain needs.

So let’s go about this a old fashioned way.  Get out your friendly bank statements (personal and business) and take a look at your expenditures.  Look to the basics first.  How much is the mortgage? How much for food? Day care? etc.  Be brutal and honest about how much you spent on those items and more in the last 6 months.  Now add how much debt you have and what the monthly payments are. Are you saving any money each month? Then using this information come up with a monthly budget of what you need to sustain your present lifestyle.


If the answer is yes, then go on to next hurdle and find out exactly how much income you are getting each month.  And then the major question:  ARE YOU MAKING ENOUGH INCOME TO COVER YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES?  If your debt ratio to income is more than 15% then something is wrong(unless big items like cars and houses are involved).

By this time, you should be seeing some interesting developments.

  • If you are not satisfied  because you want your lifestyle to be different, then in what ways would you change it?
  • If you are not satisfied because you don’t have enough income, then the only way to change it is to earn more money.

Seems like a no brainer?  You can’t imagine how many people get hung up here!  Even Attorneys!

NOW YOUR TASK THIS WEEK IS TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THESE QUESTIONS AND ANALYZE EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR “MONEY LIFE”.  If you need some help, call me.  Next week we will get into increasing your earning and what might be holding you back if that is what you need to do.


HEY, it’s June, that’s Mid-Year. For all of you it is time to review your work situation and make decisions about how you might want to change your practice in the coming year. Take a minute and do a quite survey about your present career situation by answering the following questions:

1. Am I making enough money to cover my business and personal expenses?
2. Am I making enough money to fund my retirement/savings account each month?
3. Do I like to go to work each day?
4. Do I like the people I work with?
5. Do I like most all of my clients?
6. Can I get my work done in 40-50 hours a week?
7. Do I have enough time for my family each day?
8. Do I exercise enough?
9. Am I eating a healthy diet?
10.Am I taking enough classes to keep up to date in my practice areas?
11.Do I often feel lonely?
12.Do I have mentors?
13.Do I play and have fun on a regular basis?

OK, ok, you get the idea. If you answered NO to a lot of these questions, then let’s get started right now on making those changes that will get you to the next level in your career. Think of change ( which is scary) as MORPHING. Morph yourself into a more fulfilling career.

How do you do this? Look at the “nos” above. Now decide one thing you could do today to start changing that answer to a “yes”. Some people call that shifting your outlook. Yes, it takes work and focus but its certainly better than being whiny ( you know I hate that) and depressed.

Now look at your calendar for this week and put a simple task that you are going to do to change that negative to a positive. Put aside at least 30 minutes to do it. Because these areas are so important to be a happier lawyer, I will be blogging about each one starting next week with #1. SO STAY TUNED!


It’s called Time Management and anyone can learn it with a little perseverance. You definitely need to take control of this now before it gets worse and you wind up burnt out. First, you need to look closely at just what your “jobs” are. You are at least a husband/wife/partner, attorney, marketer, financial planner, net worker and whatever other roles are important to you. As you work your time, you need to be aware of these roles and balance them out. By deciding each week what you will accomplish in each category, you will have an overview of that week’s time.

Now I would imagine that your “Attorney” role is bloated and swollen when you look at it beside all your other duties. So let’s cut that down. What work is Urgent and Important? What is Important but not Urgent? What is neither Important nor Urgent? Start with the last category and slash everything that can be dropped, delegated or delayed.

      The secret to Time Management is in the planning. If you take the time to organize your time, you are far ahead. Plan also for emergencies. In other words, don’t have such a tight schedule that emergencies are on top of everything else.  Be sure you plan each week ahead of time so that you can decrease your stress.  If you know exactly what you need to accomplish on Monday, you can relax on Sunday.  To start always add 30 minutes to every task and at the end of the week review how you did with your planning.  Underestimating time is the most frequent error made by attorneys.

Last, I have a few hints for Family Law Attorneys. Always have a “partner”. This is someone who also does family law and would like to have a reciprocal relationship and cover for each other. This way you can actually go on vacation. Because your clients can be highly emotional, it is important to tell them about this person and that they might be filling in for you in an emergency. You can even show them a picture of the attorney, to make them more comfortable. This actually works for all attorneys but especially important for attorneys practicing in very emotional fields.

Also educate your clients about what exactly is an emergency and when it is important to call you after office hours (which, in reality, is almost never). You need to set some boundaries and not be swept away by people who are very needy. If this is difficult for you, you might want to get a little coaching to help.

I hope this helps and remember: You, Beyoncé and President Obama have the same amount of time in each day! It’s all in how you use that time!


Onward we go with our discussion of PROCRASTINATION. Now you have all listed 5 areas of your life and at least one task you are procrastinating doing in that area. If you recall, that was your homework from the last article that I wrote and you read. If you haven’t done it because…….Oh yeah, you were procrastinating, do it now.

Next review the 7 possible reasons for procrastination. They are 1. we’re scared of doing it 2. we don’t like the task, 3. we feel overwhelmed 4. we like waiting until the last minute to feel the “rush” 5. unrealistic view of the time involved, 6. having psychological or physical problems which make the task difficult and last,7. striving for perfection,

Most of us can knock out number 6. That would be a really bad excuse unless it is true. Anyway, put the number or numbers of the reason for your procrastination beside each task. Now take a look. Are a lot of the numbers the same? Is it always feeling overwhelmed or do you not like any of the tasks? This will give you a road map for where we are going.

Next, prioritize the 5 tasks you have chosen to work on in order of most repulsive to least repulsive. Now take the most repulsive task and ask yourself. How important is this? Will my health be affected if it doesn’t get done? Will my income be affected? Will my happiness be affected? Will someone else’s happiness be affected? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, consider whether you should do the task at all or if you should delegate it to another to do.

However, if you answered yes, then you must do it. The task won’t go away , it will be exactly the same tomorrow or even bigger. Now, can you break it down in smaller parts ( Such as getting materials together to complete the task)? If you can answer yes to this, then take out your calendar and make an appointment with your calendar to do this first step. The trick is to not calendar it for longer than 7 days ahead, preferably no more than 5 days.(caveat: if it is a time sensitive task, then you need to calendar accordingly, as we lawyers say). Be sure to give yourself enough time to do it. Now forget it and get onto the next most repulsive task you have to do and do this procedure until you have completed all five. Aren’t you proud of yourself?

Now review the reason that you didn’t want to do the most repulsive task. Let’s take an example. You didn’t want to do an Opposition to a Summary Judgment Motion because you are afraid you don’t know how. Or are you overwhelmed because it is a really big task and will take several hours? Or are you basically bored with doing research and legal writing? Can you hear the little kid screaming inside you that doesn’t want to do it period and really only wants to play.

What’s the first thing you can do to break it up in parts? Read the S J motion and mark all the fatal errors and areas that you are going to dispute. Next calendar all of your dates of service, etc. You can probably do that in less than two hours, before starting any research, so calendar just that. Next, calendar time to decide what research you have to do by looking at the areas of dispute and noting the issues. This may take a bit more time but you should come out with specific areas to research. Then calendar for that, not too far in the distant future. The actual writing will have to be calendared within sufficient time to do the proper service, so that needs to be done at some point. And then its all done and you can play.

There is one reason that needs to be address more in depth here. That is feeling overwhelmed. If you can step away and decide that you really just have too much going on in your life and can’t get anything done even by prioritizing, maybe you need to give serious thought to getting help. You could hire a law student or another attorney to do the Opposition. You can hire an organizer to clean out your closets. You can hire a housekeeper to clean your house. You can entice your children with some goodie into feeding the dog and cleaning their rooms.

None of this is easy but identifying and writing down a place in your calendar for each task is the best method for starting to overcome your hesitation. Also you can resort to little tricks, like giving yourself a gift when you complete a task on time This may work for you, or you may have to identify all the negatives things that will happen if you don’t do it…..

OK, now it says in my calendar that its time to go to the Gym…..I’m thinking about hitting DELETE …..


I was forced into watching the Dr. Oz show this morning because his program is on right after the Today Show. Not switching channels was my first lazy move of the day.  However, he had a guest psychologist on who spoke about constant worry and the stress from it which can have disastrous affects on the body and mind.

She spoke with three women who had different patterns of worry but each found the worry was taking a toll on their live.  One of the suggestions was to interfere when the thoughts start by thinking of something silly(like a man in a bunny suit singing nonsense tunes).  Or to think of something pleasant that has happened in your life.  The trouble I found with this one was that I didn’t know what to think about after I had “interfered”.  I discovered that part of my thought process is to always  start planning activities or work on solving problems which sometimes produces more stress.

This indicates that I need to come up with different subjects to think about.  That’s really hard.

The other dynamic suggestion was, of course, meditation and breath control.  Taking a deep inhale for five counts, then hold for five counts then exhale for five counts.  I guess it would help to think of a mountain stream or a country side filled with flowers after doing this.

I then realized that I am handicapped in stress control because I don’t listen to music.  Maybe that comes from having been married to a composer and having to attend drum concerts! Also constantly being told that I had no musical ability….. Boy, now I can blame my lack of ability to handle worry on my ex!

So, what do you do with all this new found knowledge.  Well, its probably worth a try.  We all know we waste a lot of time worrying about things that never happen. One more solution that was given was to say that you will have a specific time to worry and will set up a “worry box” where you will put your worries until the appointed time.  I think that one might work for me. At least I could get some sleep! unless I start worrying that I might forget what’s in my worry box and overlook some important worry…..

Stay well and have some fun this week…..And Get Some Sleep!