How do others see you?

One aspect of coaching that oftens initially surprises my clients is that I offer feedback that shows them something they hadn’t previously appreciated, something that reveals another factor or aspect of a situation and perhaps changes my client’s view of things.

For instance, I was working with one client (let’s call her Barb) who was hoping to make partner and entered coaching to strengthen her performance so she’ll be a strong candidate.  She’d picked up on some comments that made her question whether she was viewed as partner material.  I found Barb to be intelligent, personable, and funny.  I also noticed that when I’d ask her a question about her work, she downplayed the role she played.  It puzzled me, because I could tell from the kind of work she was describing that she was a heavy lifter on the cases, but to hear her tell she was simply supporting work done by others.  One day, Barb said that a particular concern she held about making partner was that it didn’t seem like anyone regarded her work as being important or notable.  She explained the evidence for her feeling, and then I asked her permission to share an assessment.

I told her that when she described her own work, she minimized and understated her contribution.  To hear her tell the story, she contributed little more than hours — and certainly nothing critical in terms of strategy or deep analysis.  But when I asked specifically and pressed, she’d tell me about tasks she’d done and decisions she’d made that were quite high-level.  My assessment was that because she was so careful not to overstate her contribution — and perhaps so uncomfortable being in the spotlight — she didn’t give a fair opportunity for someone to understand the kind and level of work that she was doing.

We devised a plan for Barb to share more about her work, and she discovered that when she changed her style and became more open about what she was doing, people began to appreciate the scope of her work and to understand what she was capable of doing.  She got more and better work, and she felt that others’ perception of her was more accurate.

Feedback can be incredibly useful, whether it’s helping to illuminate a blind spot on communication style, professional skills, or strategy.  Corporations often use 360-degree profiles, in which subordinates, colleagues, and supervisors provide feedback to a third party about the person being reviewed, and the third party then conveys the anonymous and summarized feedback to the subject of the profile.  Such candid feedback can be helpful in highlighting strengths or in pointing out shortcomings in a clear and matter-of-fact manner, and both functions can help with development.  In fact, I’ve read several books on leadership over the past few weeks, and every one of them recommended undergoing a 360-degree profile process as a critical, foundational step for leadership development.

Law firms have historically declined to use these tools, though there’s some indication that the trend is changing.  Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to get objective feedback where possible (if, for instance, you’re working with a coach or a mentor) and important to become skilled in learning to see oneself through the eyes of others.  Particularly when something seems to be askew, it’s a great exercise to step back and ask… How do others see you?

Tuesday Shorts 11/27/07

Lessons Learned on Balance: I’ve read Ellen Rappaport Tanowitz’s article Balancing Act: Lessons Learned (published in the September issue of the ABA’s GP/Solo New Lawyer newsletter) several times now, and it’s touched me each time.  After recounting the story of death at an unconscionably young age, Tanowitz writes:

Luke’s dad has taught me some very valuable lessons, that I plan to carry with me and that I share with you. First, if something is really important to you, find a way to do it. Don’t wait for the perfect time or until you have enough money—don’t be frivolous or reckless or use it as an excuse to hit the spending limit on your credit cards—but do it, because really, the perfect time rarely arrives. Second, I am sure I am not the only one who can tell such a story. I know that most of us know families like Luke’s or maybe we are Luke’s family. So when the minutiae of life has got you down—take a deep breath and try to look at the bigger picture and try to realize that things really aren’t that bad.

Think twice before you check luggage.  Just a few days ago, I received payment and flight coupons from Delta to “compensate” me for the loss of my luggage in early October.  I still can’t quite fathom how the loss occurred, since it seems that the luggage claim tag was removed from my bag and applied to another bag instead, and I’m at a complete loss as to any way to protect against future losses.  The Law Practice Management blog offers a cautionary post with good reminders: Traveling with Luggage Is Getting Harder.  According to the post, 1 in 138 checked bags was lost during the first nine months of 2007.  (I’m unclear on the whether these bags were delayed or truly lost.)  I’ve always been careful not to check client materials when I travel, and this is why:

And most importantly, be sure that any client-sensitive data and other essential work-related information is kept with you at all times, or shipped by a private carrier ahead of time. With the odds increasingly getting worse, you don’t ever want to risk having to inform the client that their confidentiality may have been compromised by airport baggage mishandling.

Do they give thanks?  The Thanksgiving issue of the New York Times included an article on perks that some large firms offer their associates.  The lucky associates enjoy such delights as on-site massage, food delivery (including dinner on a silver tray), on-site daycare, in-home emergency nanny services, a nap room, and much more.  Perkins Coie, which is roundly regarded as a terrific place to work, even features a “happiness committee” that delivers “random acts of kindness” to the hardworking lawyers and staff.  Reading the article, I found myself wondering what clients think of some of the more indulgent treats:

But Mr. Johnson of Law Practice Consultants said that some corporate clients paying $350 an hour and more to some associates, and double that or more to partners, were irritated. The corporate clients “don’t want to be responsible for associate training,” he said. “I hear them say all the time, ‘they treat their associates better than I get treated at my company.’”

Although some of these perks do facilitate work (raising questions about balance), thinking about perks plus quite high hourly rates leads me to think, again, that this is a great time for local/regional small/mid-sized firms to approach clients of large firms and poach some business.

And yet, I must admit that I also wonder: what’s the opposite of schadenfreude?

What’s the most important step you can take?

Only 34 days remain in 2007, including weekends and holidays.  Before we know it, the books will close and another year will have passed.  What’s the most important step you can take today to ensure that you’re well-positioned as you move into 2008?

  • Business development: Perhaps you could set aside a couple of hours to evaluate your business development plan for 2007 and to lay out your strategy for next year.  Or you could make some appointments to take important contacts to lunch, for coffee, or whatever is appropriate.  If you’ve noticed that there’s something in your way concerning client development, invest some time now determining what you need to do to be more productive.  At a minimum, set aside a few minutes every day to take some marketing action.
  • Time management: How are your hours?  If they’re low, what do you need to do to get appropriate work?  (Perhaps see the business development ideas!)  Are you billing for the time you’re actually working, and are you using that time well?  Do you need to update your methods for filing, time tracking, or scheduling?  Perhaps it’s time to check in with your assistant and see what ideas he or she has for using time more effectively.
  • Professional development:  This is often a great time of year to pick up CLE.  Or check out some of the new publications in your area of practice or on practice management.  But first, check your progress on the development plans you set for this year.  What can you do to close out this year with a success?
  • Career:  If you’ve been considering a move, this is a good time to put out feelers and position yourself.  You may not have an opportunity to interview until the new year, but putting yourself “on the market” now will be beneficial.  If you’re mid-search, you may find this a busy period as employers try to wrap up hiring decisions before the close of the year.If you’re planning to stay in your current position, what can you do to improve your performance?  How successful have you been this year, and what changes would be helpful as you move forward?  The holiday season is also an opportunity to show your gratitude to support staff and colleagues who have made your professional life work well and perhaps brightened your days: don’t miss your chance.
  • Work/life integration: Are you happy with the amount of time and energy you’re putting into your personal life?  Do you need to rearrange your schedule, get some help on the home front, or turn off your BlackBerry while you talk with your spouse/partner/child?  Are you putting in time on the activities that will increase your energy, such as exercise and getting sufficient sleep?
  • Other:  If there’s an area that needs attention, you know what it is.  Spend some time putting it right, whatever that may mean.

Taking these steps will help you to realize or exceed the goals you’ve set for 2007 and carry you forward into 2008 with momentum.  Choose the most important action in the most important area and do it this week.

“Black Friday” — join the fun with these gifts for lawyers!

Since it seems like the entire country will be shopping today, I thought I’d post some gift ideas for your favorite lawyer.

As you may (or may not) know, my background is in patent litigation and I am a patent attorney, so I was thrilled to see Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O post on Ten Ways to Spend Your Bonus: Holiday Gifts for a Patent Attorney.  With choices like the Roomba vacuuming robot, the Jawbone Bluetooth headset for cell phones, and a portable GPS, this list might even be useful for non-patent geeks.! You’ll also find other fun legally-minded gifts there, not to mention a dazzling array of greeting cards that you can personalize and send without having to lick a single stamp.

This CafePress page offers more than a thousand designs for t-shirts, bags, coffeecups, and more — all legally inclined, and most under $30 or so.  Perhaps a messenger bag styled Fungible Billing Unit would be just the right thing for weekend trips… to the office?

And Levenger, THE site for “serious readers,” has created the best thing ever to hit legal shirtpockets, briefcases, purses, etc: the Pocket Briefcase.  This little leather case holds 3×5 cards (Levenger can personalize them, or you can order plain and print your own) that are perfect when you need space to write.  Although they’re useful for a “to do” list, my favorite way to use them is to jot down a resource for someone I’ve just met while networking, leaving them with a card that’s larger than a business card, thus easy to read and remember, complete with my contact information.

And last but not least, one of the best books I’ve read this year about the practice.  Raise the Bar: Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession questions the billable hour, the firm as an organization, the way lawyers work, how associates are integrated into the practice, and how law can serve society.  It’s guaranteed to make you think.

Happy shopping!

(Incidentally, if you’re wondering: no, I’m not compensated for any of these recommendations.  Alas, no funding my own shopping!)

Change your mind, change your practice(s).

We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them
— Albert Einstein

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It is, at least for me, a truism that I must change my perspective, my way of thinking, my approach to a problem before I can possibly solve the problem.  Another great quote on this topic is, If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.  I understand that many 12-step programs use that statement to explain “insanity” in the context of the program.

What does the mean in the context of practicing law?  Plenty.  With regard to career advancement, if you’ve been taking the approach of being a reliable, industrious, somewhat reserved workerbee and you notice that you keep getting passed over for the big cases you’d like to work on, the answer probably isn’t to do more of the same and hope for a different result.  If you’re constantly running ragged, wondering how you can connect with your spouse and/or children in an hour or so at the beginning or end of each day, it’s a safe bet that you won’t shift your actions until and unless you shift your perspective.  Want a new job?  You’ll have to pull some time and attention away from what you’re doing now to make the time to launch a job search.  And if you believe that client development is something that you’ll begin “later,” you likely won’t recognize client development opportunities that may come your way — because chance favors the prepared mind.

To make a change requires stepping outside the situation long enough to identify a problem and then to make a mental shift that will help in solving that problem.  How the shift happens is individual to each person.  But creating and then using a shift relies on several basic principles.

1.  The shift must be authentic.  If your partner, your supervisor, your doctor, or anybody else tells you to make a change and you don’t buy into it, there will be no shift.  Remember the punchline to the joke asking how many psychiatrists are needed to change a lightbulb?  One, but the lightbulb has to really, really want to change.  No psychiatry here, but if you don’t really, really want to change (or at least really, really believe you need to change), chances are good that you’ll keep on doing the same old, same old.

2.  Maintaining the shift means keeping it in the forefront of your mind.  If you’re trying to make a habit of arranging lunch with one potential client a week, put that on your calendar where you see it daily.  If you’re trying to incorporate some stretching into your day so you don’t feel like you’re 90 years old when you hobble away from your desk at the end of the day, set an alarm that go off periodically.  If you’re wanting to improve your efficiency in the office, use time management tools that keep your eye on efficiency.  Holding onto a shift in perspective means keeping it in front of you visually and/or aurally, because it’s often all too easy to slide back to the old, familiar approach.

3.  Reaping the benefit of the shift requires action.  While it’s important to recognize a problem or a situation that can be improved, that’s empty if it’s a recognition without follow-through.  If you want more balance in your life, take some action, even if it’s small.  Claiming a 15-minute walk for yourself in the afternoon will not only provide some balance but also will remind you that you’re seeking balance.  (Put it in your calendar and keep that commitment, too!)

4.  It’s easier to maintain a shift, and to design and implement the actions that the shift calls for, with support.  Tell your spouse that you need to set aside 3 hours on Saturday morning to catch up on work.  Tell your secretary that you plan to eat lunch away from your desk one day this week.  Work with a coach to provide accountability as you set out on your client development plans.  If you decide you’re going to make a change, you probably have about a 40% chance of succeeding.  If you decide to make a change, tell someone what you’re going to do, and commit to doing it by a certain deadline, you have about a 95% chance of succeeding.

What shift do you need to improve your practice and your life?

Tuesday shorts: 11/20/07

Leadership Development for Lawyers  Mark Beese, the “marketing guy” at Holland & Hart, shared a firm’s approach to establishing a leadership development program on his aptly named blog Leadership for Lawyers.  Two points from his post struck me particularly, as follow:

1.  There is not an outcry from lawyers for leadership development.  Many partners already see themselves as either adequate leaders or they don’t care.  Leadership education is best sold as a privilege and a ‘fast track’ to other benefits.   Leadership Development (LD) needs absolute buy-in from the Managing Partner and the Management Committee, including recognition that LD will take time away from admin and billable hour expectancies.

2.  While it is important that the Managing Partner and Managing Committee participate in LD, the real benefit is when front-line leaders like Practice Group and Office Leaders participate. Ideally, a firm should consider levels of LD, including LD for all associates, LD for emerging leaders, LD for front line leaders, LD for top level leaders and LD for staff directors. 

More on leadership  Leaders are made, not born, according to three firms profiled in an article in The Legal Intelligencer titled Leadership Programs Born From Lack of Born Leaders.  Programs instituted by Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and Reed Smith are profiled.

Leadership in law firms is such an intriguing topic to me, and it’s part of my professional focus in part because I attained a certificate in leadership coaching from Georgetown.  Please keep watching this space for an upcoming announcement of paths for exploration of leadership development specifically for lawyers.

Successful lateral transitions  The American Lawyer has published an article by recruiter Elizabeth Purcell  titled How to Ensure Lateral Loyalty.  The article focuses on retention of lateral partners, but may offer good advice for integrating associates as well.  The key findings?  First, that firms often don’t do a good job on integrating laterals.  Those who do succeed do so by making sure that the fit is good before bringing on the lateral (largely by not buying into hype) and then by introducing the lateral to other partners and to clients and by developing a team that is as respectful of the organic group as it is of the new hire.


Relationship or one-night stand: How law firms view associates (and clients)

As those who frequently reads this blog know, I’m a proponent of planned disengagement from work to facilitate full engagement while working.  Tomorrow will be a regular working day (complete with client meetings and the regular Tuesday Shorts on the blog) but the rest of the week will find me cleaning, cooking, and spending time with my family.  So, you’ll find repeats of some past blog posts that you may have missed the first time around.  Today’s post follows on the heels of Friday’s review of David Maister’s Strategy and the Fat Smoker with a discussion of one of Maister’s articles that’s also featured in the book.

David Maister wrote a fascinating article titled, “Do You Really Want Relationships?”  He suggests that lawyers generally say we want relationships with our clients, long-standing interactions that tend to lead to more work in the future, more referrals, fewer challenges on billing, and more effective working relationships.  This, Maister describes as the “romance” view.  However, in practice, lawyers often act on the transactional view of client relations — “one-night-stands” — in which there’s little commitment beyond the immediate project, little trust, and an understanding on both sides that it’s “us” versus “them.”  Do read the article for a fuller discussion of this very interesting topic; it’s a terrific eye-opener.

What I want to talk about today, though, is a short section of the article that discusses viewing firm personnel in the relationship or transactional mode.

“Are you saying,” they ask me, “that I need to show an interest in my subordinates as people and care about their career ambitions?”

“Only if you want them to respond to you,” I reply.  “If your subordinates feel that you are prepared to work at a relationship with them, ensuring that both sides benefit, then they will give you more of what you want.  That’s human nature, not a political or religious point.

“But if they think that you, their superior, are just trying to get out of the deal more of what you want from them?  Harder work, more billable hours, whatever?  Then they will respond in kind.  They will view you as you are viewing them: useful only to the extent that they can get out of it when they want in the short run.

“There will be no long-term loyalty and no commitment to the larger interests of the firm, because you have set the patten that this is truly a temporary transation, not a relationship.  If you treat people as THEM, as objects, or as ‘other,’ they in turn will treat you instrumentally.”

And that, my friends, is the crux of the associate retention problem in big firms.  Maister nailed it, in my opinion.  Associates view partnership as a distant, likely unattainable goal, perhaps even a goal they don’t want to attain.  Firms offer money as the short-term benefit, “greedy associates” are born, and associates become eager to move on to the high bidder, to the firm where they can get the most short-term benefit, figuring that at some point they’ll end up in a firm where they can and will make partner — but that’s down the road after they’ve switched firms a few times.  (Of course, there’s nothing that will motivate a lawyer toward money like facing $100K or more in law school debt, but that’s another thread.)  According to a NALP study cited in “Law-Firm Life Doesn’t Suit Some Associates” (which I discussed here a couple of days ago), 60-62% of entry-level associates have left their firms by the end of the fourth years.

What can law firms do to encourage good associates to stay?  Create a sense of mutual loyalty.  Pay attention to associates’ professional development, career satisfaction, and concern for the person.  Make sure associates know that they’re not fungible, that they’re part of a team, that they contribute to something important.  Help them recognize meaning in their work — and I’m not talking the do-gooder kind necessarily (though that often keeps lawyers working in public interest despite low pay, lack of resources, etc.), but the kind that comes from practicing an an area of law that fits, taking on advancing responsibilities, receiving appropriate guidance that promotes professional growth.  Say “thank you.”

If law firms do even some of these things, I suspect that associates who fit in the firm will be motivated to do their best and that they’ll want to stick around.  Am I wrong?  I’d love to find out.

David Maister’s Strategy & the Fat Smoker

As the title of David Maister’s forthcoming book Strategy and the Fat Smoker suggests, the problem isn’t that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we know and choose to ignore.   Based on a series of articles written and posted online, Maister’s latest offering promises a dose of “real” strategy: “Real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared top others, we actually do more of what everybody knows they should do.”  In other words, it’s all about implementation, and that’s the focus of the book.  Organized in sections pertaining to how organizations should think about strategy, clients (including marketing and selling), and management, Strategy and the Fat Smoker speaks to those who understand that knowing without doing brings little value.

I began by reading the introductory chapters on strategy.  Several gems leapt out at me, including:

If you truly want to succeed (and many people do not want it badly enough to make it happen) then you must never settle, never give up, never coast, never just accept what is, even if you are currently performing at a high level.


[T]he primary outcome of strategic planning should not be analytical insight or smart choices, but a superior resolve to accomplish something.


The best way to approach this re-evaluation [of the organization’s purpose, mission, vision and values] is to begin with a very small inner circle of top management leaders, who can look each other in the eyes and ask: “Are  these really the decision rules we as leaders are prepared to stick with?”

Maister invites readers to plunge in with any chapter, and after I got the flavor of his approach to strategy, I dived into Chapter 17: The Trouble with Lawyers.  Maister’s preface to this chapter indicates that he originally wrote it to explain “why lawyers and law firms are different from other professions” but that others in consulting and the financial services industry identify with the culture and behavior that Maister ascribes to the legal profession.  Almost any lawyer who reads this chapter will recognize that Maister is indeed speaking to us.  He highlights four problems that prevent “lawyers from effectively functioning in groups:”

*  problems with trust;
*  difficulties with ideology, values, and principles;
*  professional detachment; and
*  unusual approaches to decision making (referring to lawyers’ propensity to attack any idea presented to locate and highlight its weaknesses, with the result that “within a short time, most ideas, no matter who initiates them, will be destroyed, dismissed, or postponed for future examination.”)

Having identified and explained these pecularities, Maister asks why lawyers do so well financially if the profession is riddled with these problems, and his answer is proven by the lockstep approach that firms tend to apply to innovation:

The greatest advantage lawyers have is that they compete only with other lawyers.  If everyone else does things equally poorly, and clients and recruits find little variation between firms, even the most egregious behavior will not lead to a competitive disadvantage.

Maister suggests that only client pressure is likely to compel firms to begin to act “as firms — delivering seamless service, practice areas that have depth ( and not just a collection of individualistic stars), and true, cross-boundary teamwork.”  Having come to understand some of the problems that have so far prevented that will help firms to adapt as such client pressure is applied.

Other chapters of Strategy and the Fat Smoker have application to lawyers and firms as well.  The book does an excellent job of delivering its subtitled promise of teaching organizations and individuals to do “what’s obvious but not easy.”  It’s readable, practical, and insightful.  The release date is January 2, 2008, which is perfect timing.  Buy it, read it, and learn how to make your resolutions (and those of your organization) come to pass in 2008.

Law, leadership, and the brain

Thanks to Stephanie West Allen’s Idealawg, I’ve been mulling over a couple of interesting articles that connect neuroscience with the law and with leadership.  First up is a Wall Street Journal article titled, Except in One Career, Our Brains Seem Built for Optimism.  Research suggests not only that the human brain is predisposed to an optimistic view of the world, but that the effect of moderate optimism is quite beneficial… Except in law.  From the article:

The influence of optimism on human behavior is so pervasive that it must have survival value, researchers speculate, and may give us the ability to act in the face of uncertain odds.

Medical evidence is suggestive. Optimistic people at risk for skin cancer are more likely to use sunscreen. Optimistic coronary artery bypass patients are more likely than pessimists to be taking vitamins, eating low-fat foods and joining a cardiac-rehab program five years after surgery — and living longer, studies show.

“If even half the time our actions work out well, our life is going to turn out for the better,” Dr. Phelps said. “If you are pessimistic, you are unlikely to even try.”

Indeed, the researchers suspect that the breakdown of this brain network may contribute to clinical depression. All in all, Dr. Seligman said, optimists tend to do better in life than their talents alone might suggest.

Except lawyers.

Surveying law students at the University of Virginia, he found that pessimists got better grades, were more likely to make law review and, upon graduation, received better job offers. There was no scientific reason. “In law,” he said, “pessimism is considered prudence.”

David Giacalone of f/k/a offers an interesting rejoinder that suggests a lawyer will be far more effective if he or she expresses both optimism and pessimism: “To be truly good at issue-spotting and at giving excellent advice (as a good consigliere must to survive), you need to be able to envision both good and bad outcomes, and all those in between.”  Amen.

The second article, It’s All in the Mind,  questions the impact of “neuroleadership,” which it defines as “a blend of certain findings from neuroscience with a set of leadership practices and principles designed to encourage more consultative, creative and empathetic corporate chiefs.”  The article identifies four “elements of brain function that are deemed most applicable to business leadership:”

    • the ability to think more creatively and use intuition by improving attention and changing thinking habits;
    • the ability to interconnect and empathise, which is enhanced when we have lower-frequency brain waves or slow down our thinking;
    • the understanding of how the brain reacts to change and the need for positive feedback to help create and reinforce new ways of operating; and
    • the health effects on the entire body from the brain continually working under chronic stress and with excess adrenaline.

Neuroleadership purports to offer scientific evidence to support tools and techniques for leadership development that might be less palatable in hard-driving business settings absent such evidence: “With many years’ experience of talking to business people about topics such as emotions and spirituality, [Daniel] Byrnes [consultant and lecturer in leadership and change management at Australian School of Business in Sydney] says when the idea can be backed by science it is easier to accept. ‘We can measure this stuff’,’ he adds.”

Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education academic and author of the bestseller Changing Minds, has sounded a note of skepticism about the potential benefits of neuroleadership: “I can’t think of anything a leader should do differently because of what we know about the brain.”  Time will tell, but it will be interesting to see how business — and lawyers — react if neuroscientific evidence does indeed support the “softer” leadership skills.

And for those interested in applied neurosciences, I heartily recommend Stephanie West Allen’s other blog, Brains on Purpose, where she collaborates with Jeffrey Schwartz, MD to address neuroscience and conflict resolution.

Tuesday shorts 11/13/07

Work/life imbalance stereotypes: Tom Stern, a Fast Company expert blogger on work/life balance issues, has posted a list of the Top Ten Work/Life Balance Turn-Offs.  This list of stereotypical characters (who may show up just in time to destroy your work/life balance) is both amusing and a good warning for those evaluating potential co-workers and supervisors.  One example is The Rationalizer, about whom Stern observes, “We do not want to hear about the logic which led you to neglect your loved ones in order to come up with such a brilliant idea that’s really going to turn the company around. Sure, we’ll have a stronger third quarter, but we’ll spend it picturing your family staging an intervention.”

Energy management: Anyone who’s heard me speak on time management knows that I hold that energy management is the foundation of time management, since none of us can use time effectively without abundant energy.  Cali Williams Yost, another Fast Company expert blogger, is lauding the recent focus energy management:

Just as the personal and professional demands on your time are going to change throughout your life, so are the demands on your energy. The good news is, however, unlike time which is a finite resource, energy is renewable. But you need to be aware of when energy is being depleted to order to implement strategies to maintain and increase it. If it’s not part of your awareness, you will be continually frustrated when your detailed work+life fit time analysis keeps coming up short.

How to make a losing argument.  James McElhaney’s fictional character Angus shares brilliant litigation insights every month in the ABA Journal magazine.  This month’s column, How to Make a Losing Argument, will be beneficial for non-litigators as well, since all lawyers seek to persuade.  Two ways to lose stood out to me from the seven that McElhaney identifies: “base your argument on obscure technicalities” and “push a good point too far.”

And a follow-up on last week’s post about the flawed room service breakfast I received and how important it is to inquire whether a client is happy with the service rendered — especially for those who thought it a petty point.  My breakfast was incorrect the next day as well.  (I’m usually not such a room service fiend, but when a conference starts at 7 AM…..)  And then I started to notice other shortcomings.  The ballroom was freezing cold; when my assistant called the hotel to get the correct mailing address, the operator said that neither Brown nor Fleming-Brown nor Fleming was registered and declined to confirm that my conference was indeed at that hotel; housekeeping didn’t replenish the toiletries that I’d used.  And then my breakfast was wrong on the third (and final) day that I ordered room service, at which point I called to complain and requested the charge to be removed from my bill.  When I checked out, the clerk didn’t ask how my stay was, which confirmed to me that the hotel really didn’t care, and she didn’t thank me for my business.  Will I stay there again?  Not likely.  Will I consider that experience when I consider the hotel chain in the future?  You bet.  Thus ends this client service parable.