Despite all of the lawyer jokes out there, this much can’t be debated: the law is an incredibly demanding profession – and the stress, pressure and expectations can be overwhelming, even for lawyers who put up a strong, brave face (often because that’s the job requirement).
There are many factors that contribute to this situation: case overload, long hours, cut-throat competition, family obligations, the pressure to “live up” to large salaries and pressure from higher management to expand their client base.
Allison Shields is a law practice coach. In an article published on Lawyerist.com, Sheilds looks at how lawyers can snap out of the paralysis that often grips them when there’s too much on their agenda.
Her top tip is to prioritize – an oft-repeated piece of wisdom, but she beefs it up by saying that lawyers need to ask:
What is the purpose of this task?
Can someone else do it?
Is it a task I get paid for?
Does it require my special expertise?
By answering those questions, it becomes simpler to set priorities. And once priorities are set, it becomes easier for lawyers roll up your sleeves and get down into the trenches.
Another of Sheilds’ gems is to “harness the power of three.” She says: “Choose only three main tasks to accomplish every day. Ask yourself, `What three things, if I accomplished them today, would make me feel as if my day had been productive?’ Tackle those three tasks first.”
It may seem like strange advice – even elementary. After all, there are dozens of things a layer has to do each day (or more). How can it be reduced to three?
Looking at it that ways misses the point. It’s not about only doing three things. It’s about setting realistic goals, and then enjoying the satisfaction that comes from achieving them. It also helps add quality – and avoid re-doing the same task – because it was done right the first time.