Balancing the Bar

Happiness and the Practice of Law

A New Year .. yet a sense of Deja Vu

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There is something about working for yourself as an attorney even if you are in a firm that happens toward the end of the year.  There is a financial instability most in private practice feel.  In January you start the year with hopes and dreams of having a “good year”.  You see your colleagues bringing in clients and fees and you plug away – day in day out.  If you are lucky you get a week of vacation or sometimes two in a year. Sometimes you have clients that are ongoing relationships for you and you can count on a certain amount of work and therefore, income.  These clients are yours for years.  Sometimes, clients leave and you must fill the gap.  One must constantly mind their staffing cost and their profitability.  As the year goes on you have good and bad months.  You hope that in the end you will make enough money to support your family, pay your taxes and maybe even afford to toast the New Year with bottle of vintage Champagne.  Alas, November roles around and you realize that even if you could pull a rabbit out of your hat it wouldn’t help.  Then the end of the year roles around and you guessed it you start the rat race all over again.

If you get the mix just right one year you inevitably try to repeat the same thing the next year and bam you have no luck.  The reality is there is no perfect formula for success each year.  Things are constantly changing from clients, to judges, to overhead, to your own health.   So, what do you do?  One of my elder colleagues said recently that you do the daily stuff well and things fall into place.  It seems simple but to a certain degree makes perfect sense.   If you can accept that everything around you is impermanent then you can see the wisdom in focusing on daily pursuits and short term thinking.  Does this mean you must give up on your long term goals and stop striving for more clients and security?  No.  But, by looking at the here and now or in essence being mindful daily we can string together successes that build a semi solid foundation for a New Year.  

Or perhaps, as Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”


Author: Tabitha M. Hochscheid

Attorney since 1995, interested in Attorney Health and Well Being and related issues for lawyers and the general population. Developer and Committee Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association Health and Well Being Committee.

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