Every Tuesday morning I do something I hate. I dread it on Monday night. I get upset about it on my drive into work on Tuesday morning. And yet, every Tuesday, I chair a meeting for my firm to discuss “operations.” As my firm’s operations chair, this is one of my responsibilities. If I hate it, then why do it? Because, it makes my firm, our lawyers, and our staff better.
People are not inclined to do things that they hate doing. That’s human nature. And lawyers are even less likely to do things they hate. We’re too proud. We think too highly of ourselves to do things that we’re not good at or that we dislike.
“Follow your passion!” Who hasn’t heard that mantra? But, I’ve learned that following your passion will get you only so far. If you only spend time on the things you do well, you can’t get any better. You have to look at the things you don’t do well, the things you dislike doing. Those are the things that – if you spend the time doing them – will eventually make you a better lawyer and your firm more functional.
More than a year ago, at our firm’s annual attorney retreat, the managing shareholder said he wanted to step down. You can imagine the gasp that filled the room. He can’t do that, can he? He did all the things the rest of us hated doing. He addressed personnelissues, he reviewed the firm’s monthly financial statements with a fine-toothed comb, he raised awareness of our shortcomings, and he made us address all our issues. Who was going to pick up that terrible, awful job?
Deanne M. Koll, William Mitchell 2006, is an attorney and shareholder with Bakke Norman S.C., with offices in Menomonie and New Richmond, Wis.
Well, I was part of that group who volunteered, and my operations team was born. And so began our weekly (yes, I said weekly) meeting every Tuesday morning. Each week, we discuss riveting topics such as document-naming conventions, staff technology training ideas, and proposals for new fee agreement language. Fascinating, I know.
To get ahead, you must do the hard and boring things. While I abhor my Tuesday meetings, I have witnessed the results. Our operations team is making the firm’s practice easier and more functional and ultimately making everyone’s lives more enjoyable. The issues we loath, if addressed, will lead to a firm’s success. We must rewire our brains, so that we value the results of the things we hate. Then, they’re not that bad. Maybe next month I’ll try applying this principal to eating more vegetables. But, no guarantees.