When the "Fu*k you!" Fu*ks You
I hung out my own shingle over 20 years ago. I had been practising law for about 5 years.
When I did my bar training course they said that it takes lawyers five years to really get an understanding of their job and to get proficient. It took me 10 years.
I went out on my own because I knew I could not do much worse financially than the firm I was working for at the time. A lawyer senior, I will call him Misleading Marvin, enticed me away from a very traditional, old boy, nice firm.
Misleading Marvin mislead me by stating that if I came and worked for him and his firm I would earn great money. They had lots of work, and they paid very well. The promises seemed too good to be true. And ultimately I was right about that. In a huge way. I did not, however, regret that move.
As an articled student and young lawyer, my principal, mentor, and managing partner was not exactly gentle when I made a mistake. And, of course, I made mistakes. If I made a...
Are you weird?
Well, I certainly hope so.
For most of us lawyers, we are compliant sorts. We worked hard in school. We didn’t get sent to the principal’s office. We did what we were supposed to do. Yet, some of us are still weird.
Weird is wonderful.
Of Germanic origin, the word, “weird” has its roots in the Old English “wyrd” which means ‘having the power to control destiny’,
Yes, please. I want to be weird. And yes, people have said I am weird.
Is it not time that more of us divorce lawyers admitted our weirdness and stopped trying to fit in to the idea of what a proper lawyer should be?
Isn’t it time that we stopped being so freaking Judge-y? That is judge-y of other lawyers, judge-y of our clients. You get it. And wait, do you ever notice that the BEST judges are the ones who are NOT judgey??
You know what kind of people are weird? Steve Jobs was weird. Did you ever hear about him being a fruitarian?
The Gift of my Mental Illness Diagnosis
The Gift of my ADHD Diagnosis
A lot of lawyers struggle A LOT. Compared to the general population, we have higher divorce rates, higher addiction rates, and higher rates of mental health challenges.
I am no exception.
Are you concerned about the stigma associated with mental health challenges, as in the way this article references that I have a “mental illness?”
The writer of this article made no attempt to reach out to me for comment before putting what she says about me to print. Is it that because I have a “mental illness” she believes I am not entitled to comment? Does she not need to reach out to me for comment BEFORE she plasters my face in a newspaper article delivered throughout the Province of British Columbia and other parts of our country (and yes, it is a great picture of me if I don’t say so myself).
Did the fact that the consent agreement between me and the Law...
Do You Want the Red Pill or the Blue Pill?
What would you rather have? A successful family law practice or a great life?
It was back during my party days. My friend Jeff was standing in my kitchen and telling a story about the movie, the Matrix. He was describing the infamous scene where the character, Morpheus, holds out his hands to Neo and offers up either a blue pill or a red pill; a pill of knowledge or a pill of blissful ignorance.
Recounting the story, Jeff thought about what all of our friends would say?! “Can’t I have both?!” -- having taken many red and green pills himself that night.
For most of us divorce lawyers, when we look to our mentors or other leaders in the profession we saw one of two kinds of lawyers, the ones who gave their family law practices absolutely everything they have, and the other ones, who, more often than not, went to work for government (read, 8-hour days, pension plans, and extensive holidays).
However, what if we could have...
Have You Stopped Struggling and Started Thriving?
If you are a family law lawyer and are tired of struggling to make it work, then keep reading.
Divorce lawyers can thrive instead of just getting by or worse, failing miserably. As one who has been both successful and unsuccessful at various points throughout the past 25 years, I am going to share with you what I have learned about success.
Success isn’t always what we expect it to be.
What does “success” mean to you?
For me, success is about abundance. When I say abundance I am not just talking about abundant finances. I am talking about abundant time, abundant health, rich and meaningful relationships, and abundant fun.
Despite all this talk about being abundant and happy, I fully admit that I have been feeling really off lately. I have felt some uncertainty about the direction of my life and my law practice. I have felt uncertainty about some of my friendships, and have disconnected from others.
For me, the most...
3 Steps to Being a Happy Lawyer
In this week’s episode, I had a great discussion with Catherine Shearer, a Canadian lawyer who runs the Happy Lawyer Podcast. She is an experienced Lawyer with a demonstrated history of working in injury, medical malpractice, and disability law.
What's really exciting about Catherine is she's an advocate for women and children, believing firmly in advocating for the rights, both inside, inside, and outside of the litigation context.
On the Happy Lawyer Podcast, Catherine illuminates issues of mental health, attrition, and the advancement of women. The Happy Lawyer Podcast was created to have a platform where lawyers can learn about how others have overcome obstacles to find happiness in the practice of law.
This is exciting because, of course, often we, as lawyers, don't realize that we can be happy and a lawyer at the same time.
In our discussion, Catherine highlighted the 3 steps to being that happy lawyer:
When it Comes to Negotiating - How Badly do you SUCK?!
And how badly do I suck?!
I am glad you asked!
When it comes to negotiating my clients’ interests, I am kick-ass, thank you very much. I took a course in negotiation skills years ago. It taught me that the best negotiators are well prepared, anticipate the other side’s interests, are clear about their clients’ best and worst outcomes to a negotiated solution, and all the things.
People describe me as assertive, passionate about my clients’ interests. Just this past week I got this message from a client I will call Dave:
"Val, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are such a wonderful person. You were excellent today."
And another from someone I will call Beverley:
"We really appreciate your hard work and can see that you poured your heart into helping us. Many thanks from all of us."
So, yeah, if you are my client you are in excellent hands! I know this deep in my bones and without question.
One-Step Strategy to Run Your Law Practice from Your Backpack
How much time last week did you spend working “on” your law practice rather than just “in” it?
Here is the strategy for transforming EVERYTHING. Block out time each and every week to work on your law practice rather than just in it. Make the appointment, with yourself, for your business, for your future, and for your life.
In order to have a great life and have a thriving law practice, we have to do more than just work in our law practice doing the billable client work, research, applications, etc. We have to work on it. When I say work on our law practice, I mean designing our law practice so that it runs smoothly for us and our clients, spending time creating our marketing, looking at our numbers, designing our lives, etc.
As I write this, I am still basking in the memory of a very recent 11-day adventure, exploring the Eastern part of the province of British Columbia. This trip was a life dream...
The Guy Who Ruined EVERYTHING!
As I write this, I am sitting on a cobble-stone patio in Kimberley, British Columbia about 580 miles from where I live. I am in Kimberley even though I still worked on my law practice all week, serving clients. It has been a huge adventure and I have seen parts of my home province that I have never seen before.
For the past 10 days I was able to practice law and run my coaching business from my laptop. My office now fits in my purse. I have taken this journey by ferry, car, city bus, private airplane, hitchhiking and taxi.
Taking a journey like this in the middle of the week, while I was still working in my law practice, is something I never would have realized as a possibility a few short years ago.
So many of us divorce lawyers work our butts off, burning the candle at both ends so to speak, without even questioning that there can be a better way.
I worked for years not questioning the structure of my work. I did not have time for much of...
Why Being Purposefully Ignorant Can be a Great Thing
I have this friend named Heather. She knows so many things. She has renovated her entire house. She not only designed it, but she also did a lot of the work herself. When she got her new dishwasher she actually read the manual so she would know exactly how to load the dishwasher in the most efficient and effective way. If she needs plumbing fixed, she will first try to do it herself before calling a plumber. Most of the time she does not end up needing the plumber. Or the electrician. Or the Maytag repairman so to speak.
Heather knows how to tile her own bathroom. She is a great cook, cooking most of her meals from scratch. She knows first aid. She knows a ton about eating wild plants. She tends to her cottage-style garden and holds a job teaching gymnastics. She even spent a year learning circus arts at Cirque du Soleil. She went off to Mexico for a year once or twice to learn Spanish. She knows how to go camping when it is...