So you, "just want to practice law"

Attorneys are rarely willing to listen and when they do have the impulse to listen, it's fleeting. The majority are inflicted with the “I just want to practice law” disease. Symptoms include:

• Inability to move forward with new projects or ideas.
• Indecisiveness; making work for others to avoid the moment of decision.
• Lack of commitment as revealed by the lack of accountability.
• Lack of implementation skills, yet not wanting to give this authority to others.
• Lack of management, leadership, or interpersonal skills.

The outlook is grim for any legal services business afflicted. But there is hope, even a cure. Take a nice length of 2x4 lumber and ….

Well let’s hold off on that for now. First try to take the patient out of their environment so you can have an uninterrupted talk. Don’t start talking about the business, start talking about them. Chances are very high that the root of the disorder will be found in a lack of balance between business and personal life. Bottom line if an attorney only wants to “practice law” then they need to find an associate position in a law firm without a partnership track. They should never entertain the thought of going solo and accepting a partnership is equally out of the question. Legal services businesses are subject to the same rules of capitalism as any other business. Risk/Reward realities are clear. If you don’t want the responsibility of the business of law then don’t be an owner. The custom of “up or out” in law firm culture is a cancer. Not everyone should be an owner. (Use 2x4 now) This does not mean they are of less value.

Every attorney who has “I just want to practice law” disease needs to take a long hard look at what damage they are doing to themselves, their families, and the people they interact with everyday. They need to act honestly to get out of way of others who should be owners and support them. Afflicted attorneys may just find their own salvation. They just might find that their cry for help “I just want to practice law” will turn into “now I get to do what makes me happy…practice law”.