Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

4 Ways Less is More in the Law Office

jay reevesIf you want to add mojo to your practice, try posting the phrase “Less is more” at every work station in your office.

Soon you’ll see your profits rising and stress falling.

There’s a catch, of course. There’s always a catch. The words themselves are not magic. You can’t just say them and expect results. You actually have to put the principle into practice.

This might be hard for you to do. Lawyers are competitive, driven and goal-oriented. We want more clients, more income and a bigger market share.

But cultivating a “less is more” mindset might be just the ticket to get you there.

Less Clients

Here’s a helpful exercise. Go through your open files and mark each case A, B or C. The A cases are the awesome ones. You enjoy working with the client and you’re getting paid well. You wish all your cases were like this. They’re your main course.

B cases are your bread and butter. They help pay the bills, but they’re not especially nourishing.

C cases give you indigestion. They’re the ones you should never have taken in the first place.

Get rid of all the C cases as quickly as possible. Warning: be sure to comply with the ethics rules on disengagement. Then promise yourself to decline future C cases that show up on your doorstep.

Now turn your attention to the A and B clients. Not only are they the profitable ones, but they’re also your best sources for new business.

Do a great job, and they’ll refer their friends and relatives to you. Show that you care, and they will become clients for life.

Ask you’re a and B clients if there are other ways you can help them. They might think you only handle traffic tickets and not know you can prepare their will as well.

Less Distractions

Lawyers spend less than three hours a day on billable activity. Much of the remaining time is wasted by distractions.

Turn off your email and social media notifications when you’re trying to concentrate on a case. Put your phone away. Close the window blinds.

Less Stress

Lawyers tend to be perfectionists and pessimists. In the short run, these traits can pay off. That’s because the law is detail-oriented and lawyers are trained to look for things that can go wrong.

But in the long run, the perfectionist-pessimist combination will inevitably cause stress.

“The official number is that something like a gazillion lawyers are stressed out, and that amounts to a bajillion percent of the profession,” says lawyer and licensed clinical social worker Will Meyerhoff in this ABA Journal article.

There are lots of safe, easy and proven ways to reduce your stress. Exercise, yoga, art, positive imagery, meditation, spirituality, going into nature, being with friends, surrounding yourself with loved ones.

Pick a method that works for you – and seek professional help if needed.

Less Receiving and More Giving

As lawyers, we have an opportunity to make someone’s life better every day. Science shows that when we care for others our brains produce chemicals that make us feel better. So it’s a win-win proposition: when we help our clients we also help ourselves.

In what ways have you found that less is more?


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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