I came across an interesting topic about the question of “Should I do stuff as a lawyer for free?”.  This is a little beyond  basic pro bono work which is almost a requirement for most attorneys.  This explores more the areas of doing volunteer work as well as free seminars, etc.

Let’s step back from this seemingly innocuous question and ask ourselves what is the motive behind doing  free work?  Is it to obtain more clients?  Is it to make ourselves feel better? Is it because of guilt? Are we looking to impress someone?  Or do we just  want to do something with our friends that isn’t straight legal work?

The reasons behind what we do each day is very important and will guide us into success or failure.  If we coldheartedly go out to try and persuade colleagues and clients that we are doing works because we are true caring individuals, this doesn’t work.  Somewhere along the line, if not done for the right reasons,  the truth will emerge, especially when the going gets tough.

Then, what should our attitude be?

  • First of all, a bit of soul searching needs to take place.  It is true that volunteering in organizations can produce clients and contacts as a by- product, but that must never be the main objective. It is also true that volunteering can relieve some of the day to day stress of being an attorney. This could be our main objective.  Now the question arises, what is the difference? The volunteer organization is getting the same commitment and outcome so why should it matter?
  • The answer is how you feel.  If you don’t get any new clients or leads, you will be disappointed and discouraged. If you get new clients and leads, you may feel guilt if that was the only reason you were doing good works and feel disappointed and discouraged.  There is a greater chance that you will come out feeling badly if you are doing this for monetary reasons as your main objective.  If, on the other hand, you have chosen the volunteer group on the basis that it will produce the most joy in your life, then more than likely good feelings will flow from your efforts, whether or not clients are forthcoming.

Now let’s talk about giving seminars or Blogging or tweeting.  In these types of setting, we need to give value.  The emphasis is not what we are getting but what we are giving. True, again we may be able to increase business this way, but just putting out self- serving tweets won’t do it.  Focus on the audience, not what you have been told you should be saying.  What do they want to hear?  What could make their life easier or give them some new important information.  This is the reason that Personal Injury attorneys need to be blogging about the safest cars and the rules concerning infant seats, not how many cases they have won.  Probate attorneys need to look to informing the public about scams perpetrated on the elderly, not on their low rates for wills.  IT attorneys about how to keep our computers out of the hand of hackers, not about the latest very expensive gadget.  And on and on….

There is also the problem of expectations.  If you go into an activity with the belief that you will get  tangible rewards from doing good work, better take time to re evaluate the situation.  The best way to approach free work is to have a very low expectation of what will be the personal result.  The most effective way to think about this is that you are very likely to get good feelings as a by-product, not a direct known result.

And remember, it is called Free Work.  It is WORK and you are not getting paid for it.  Payment may not be in money but many times, we expect that we will gain respect or camaraderie from it.  That may or may happen.  One thing you can be sure about however, is that you will gain SELF RESPECT if you come with a truly open giving heart.

How about the attorney who is on an extremely limited budget? Is it realistic to expect pro bono work as well as volunteering?  This is a large question and there has been rumors that some Bars are going to require Pro Bono work be reported.  If this comes about all the problems associated with requiring that we work for no monetary or career gains will fail. Bad attitudes will disrupt any kind of good intentions.  Let’s keep it so that when we feel able to give that we can do it with generosity and gratefulness  for our choice.



You’ll find this in LinkedIn Groups.  It’s brand new and I would ask you to join us.

  • A group formed to be interactive.
  • To give attorneys a place to really develop their business skills with advice and interchange.
  • To exercise your skill as a mentor if you’d like to.
  • To find information and new tools, including technology to expand your practice.
  • To be a consistent resource for creating business strategies which really work.

Don’t be scared by how few members we have so far.  I only got this up last week.  Please post.  This week we are having a conversation regarding “The Best Business Advice You Ever Received”.  Help to get us started on the path to success.



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.


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.