The Lawyer Who Found Instant Karma
Next time someone tells you “No good deed goes unpunished,” don’t believe them.
The truth is, no good deed goes unrewarded, although the payoff might not occur until later – maybe years or decades later – and in a way you never imagined.
This is not woo-woo fluff. It is one of The Great Verities embraced by all legal professionals who enjoy meaningful, satisfying and abundant Law Lives.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to my buddy Paul, a solo practitioner who has toiled in the trenches of private practice with a bright smile, generous spirit and positive outlook – and great success, I should add – for more than 35 years.
My Saturdays With Paul
On weekends, Paul and I meet for coffee and conversation. At a recent get-together I asked him to share something good that had happened in his Law Life.
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said, and proceeded to tell me about an elderly woman who had called him out of the blue upset about something or another. “She didn’t need a lawyer. She had no case. She was just confused and anxious.”
But instead of hanging up and turning to more profitable matters, Paul spent half an hour on the phone with the distraught caller.
“All I did was listen,” said Paul. “That’s really all she wanted.”
One perspective on that incident is that Paul flushed 30 precious minutes of billable time down the toilet. But he chose to take a different view.
“I am grateful to have been there for her,” he said. “I could tell she was comforted after talking to me.”
And there we have Reward Number One: Paul felt good because he made her feel better.
But Wait, There’s More!
That was not the end of the story. A few days later, an unexpected surprise arrived at Paul’s office – an Amazon gift card and box of homemade cookies. That was Reward Number Two.
“Best cookies I’ve had in a long time,” said Paul.
Here I should point out that I do not recommend you start giving all your time away for free. Nor am I suggesting you accept every cold call or walk-in inquiry. Sometimes the safest and wisest course is to just say no.
But what goes around, comes around. Or as the Beatles say: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
What Are You Hungry For?
There is a South African concept of The Two Hungers. The Little Hunger is for food in our bellies. The Great Hunger is for meaning in our lives.
What do you crave in your Law Life? Which is emptiest: your tummy or your soul? Maybe a random gesture of kindness or an unsolicited act of service will fill that void.
Who knows? You might even get a box of cookies out of the deal.
Law Life List #1: 10 Songs About Karma
(1) Karma Chameleon, Culture Club (2) Try a Little Kindness, Glen Campbell (3) What Goes Around, Comes Around, Justin Timberlake (4) Bad Blood, Taylor Swift (5) Instant Karma, John Lennon (6) You Deserve a Break Today, Kool and the Gang (7) The Circle Game, Joni Mitchell (8) Call it Fate, Call it Karma, The Strokes (9) What Have I Done to Deserve This, Pet Shop Boys (10) Karma Police, Radiohead.
Law Life List #2: 10 Most Popular Cookies
(1) Snickerdoodles (2) Chocolate Chip (3) Oatmeal Raisin (4) Ginger Snaps (5) Shortbread Cookies (6) Peanut Butter Cookies (7) Whoopie Pies (8) Sugar Cookies (9) Molasses Cookies (1) Kiss Cookies
Law Life Lexicon: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly 40 years in the Carolinas. These days he is a writer, speaker and consultant on issues of risk management and wellness for legal professionals. As a teenager he was in a mediocre rock band that performed an unrecognizable cover version of Instant Karma. He will eat any type of cookie. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World and runs Your Law Life LLC.
About the Author
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.Read More by Jay >