As a former attorney, host Adam Markel knows what is required to build and sustain a thriving practice in what is widely considered a tough industry – resilience. In this episode Adam interviews Sam Glover, the founder of Lawyerist, to discuss the myriad of changes the practice of law has gone through with modernization. Sam’s company focuses on extending a helping hand to lawyers so they’re equipped with industry information, tools and resources to help them thrive in the face of industry change and demands. Sam and Adam also discuss the mental health issues challenging a large portion of legal practitioners and the strategies they use to successfully cope. Listen in as they explore how it’s possible to use resilience to improve the efficacy and health of, not just the legal field, but any profession and organization.
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The Resilient Lawyer With Sam Glover
I am winding up a wonderful day. I spent some time mentoring people that are new and budding public speakers. I always love to do that. A couple of people are getting ready to get on a TEDx stage, which is super exciting for them. They’re all nerved up about it which is normal and to be expected. I know I was tied in knots before my TEDx Talk a while back and I’ve been speaking for years for that. I’m thrilled that I have a guest on the show and I love the energy that he brought to a show that he invited me to be a participant on. That was cool. I love the way they produced that show. It’s great to turn the tables on him and I’ll get to be the interviewer and ask him questions. This is going to be fun conversation going into some interesting directions. Sam Glover is the Founder of Lawyerist.com, host of the Lawyerist Podcast and co-author of The Small Firm Roadmap. Lawyerist supports lawyers building client-centered, future-oriented, small firms with information, ideas, coaching curriculum, and community. Sam, welcome to the show. I’m happy to have you on.
Thank you. It’s good to be talking to you again.
It’s a funny thing, for those in our community that will get the symmetry and the gag even, you and I are recovered lawyers. I was recovering for a number of years. I am now fully recovered. All the scar tissue is still on the inside, but I’m good. How about you?
I’m fully recovered as well. Having talked with you and heard your story, I don’t think I had as low of a low as you did. The recovery was probably a little bit easier for me.
It could be the fact that you came to a similar decision without having to endure as much pain. Why don’t we dig into that? I’ll be a lawyer forever. I don’t practice anymore. I got enough practice for this lifetime. Why did you go to law school? Why did you become a lawyer in the first place and give us a little bridge to why you ultimately pivoted out of that?
I thought I was going to be an English teacher. I was an English major and Classical Studies minor. I took a teaching class and realized I didn’t want to teach. In my junior year of college, I was like, “Oh, shit. That was my plan. I better do something else.” I took GRE and the LSAT. I did okay on both, did some research and I decided that law school sounded harder. I was going to do that because I didn’t know what else to do.
Did you want to pick the tougher road?
It sounded more fun and a better challenge. I went to law school and I showed up without a clear reason for being there.
Maybe there will be research we can do and then report back on this data. I didn’t have a clear reason for going to law school either. I go back to that time of my life. I was a middle school English teacher because they needed teachers in New York City and they were willing to give a job to anybody that had a degree. I had a college degree in English. In New York City, you could get a job as an English teacher, which is what I got a job as. My wife had been studying to be a teacher all through college. From the time she’s eight years old, she knew, “I’m going to be a teacher like my mommy.” I got a job before she did. I think I made more money than her at the time. It was $25,000 for my first salary.
It was a living wage in New York City.
It is, especially after ten years, I would’ve been making $25,800. I was a lifeguard and I was working at a local pool. I couldn’t be a lifeguard at the beach in the winter. I had to find an indoor place for me to share the tremendous gifts I had on the lifeguard stand. I remember I was doing a test of the water in the hot tub and I met this guy Sam. This older guy who is retired and he was nice, affable man, I always see him. We’d always have a little chit chat and he might’ve said to me, “What are you doing? What are you up to?” I told him, “What did you do?” He says, “I just retired. I’m a lawyer.” I said, “Tell me about that.” He started to tell me about what he had done and whatnot. I go, “I’m going to go to law school.” That was the first domino. It’s not an inspired story.
I didn’t have a mission. I didn’t have a grand thing I wanted to do.
How long did you practice?
I practiced for about ten years. I had a solo practice that I shifted gears several times. Gradually, as lawyers became more viable, I shifted gears and did that including selling my firm and closing it down. It took me probably a while to filter out all my cases and hand them all off and finish them all up, but it was about ten years and most of it on my own.
Do you remember the day that you closed the offices?
You sold the practice. You didn’t close, you handed the baton off.
I sold most of the stuff. I can’t remember the exact day. There were a couple of other points that were pivotal, but not that one. It was a done deal. That was closure.A lot of lawyers are so afraid to reach out and do something different all the time. It's a constant refrain for us. Click To Tweet
I remember mine because it put me on the ground in the fetal position for the first time since I was probably lonely at summer camp. There was a Shred-it truck that sat outside my office for three solid days. That’s how many files that were older than seven years. At that point, I was practicing for about eighteen years. We were shredding stuff I don’t need to keep and thousands of pounds of documents, the paper of people’s lives, cases I put my heart and soul into.
The clients and the cases I wish I never took. The terrible ones and then the ones that will always forever be a thing I smile about. Finally, everything is out of the office and I’m walking in. Like you, I had created this plan B while I met my team. For a couple of reasons, one, it was the pivot plan I was most comfortable with, not to scuttle one thing before you’ve created something. I also had responsibilities to all those people that had hired me. You don’t wind down cases because you decide you are going to stop. That was a bit of a painful moment because I had a lot of my life, days and hours missed away from the family.
It’s hard to feel like, “Maybe that wasn’t worth it. I’m tossing it all out.”
Do you remember where the birth of the Lawyerist inspiration came from?
There are a couple of births to it in the same way that there were a couple of pivots along the way until I got here. As I was starting my own practice, I had been working for a firm and it didn’t work out. I left, collected unemployment, applied for jobs I knew I didn’t want for a while. I told myself, “If that doesn’t happen, then I’m going to start my own firm.” I finally did. On November 25, 2005, is when I filed my paperwork. I did all the things you do when you’re starting a new business. You try and sort out all your technology, your software. You figure out how to do billing and how your phone system is going to work.
I was getting frustrated with the options available to lawyers in law practice software. I was using one, in particular, that was pissing me off and I needed a place to vent. I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always built websites no matter where I’ve been. I built websites when I worked for an outdoor store. I built websites when I worked for another lawyer. Blogging was a natural outlet for me. It turned out I wasn’t the only one that A) had complaints and B) had some visions about where things should be going and what should be better. I started writing and it picked up traffic, but it was something I did in my spare time. It earned me a lot of speaking engagements that weren’t calculated to make me any money. They definitely helped in a networking vein, but it was indirect.
Over time, it got more popular. My business partner came along and was looking for something to do and said, “You want to make this a business?” I said, “Let’s do it,” and we did. We were both doing this in our spare time for a long time. We bootstrapped this casually in the background for many years before it started. I wish I could remember the exact year. Aaron is good with dates and I’m bad with our company story. I decided to take a flyer. There was a moment that led me to stop litigating and start doing transactional work because I couldn’t deal with the stress and pressures of that and being in the emergency room billing time while my first daughter was born.
I vowed never again. I converted to representing small businesses and that bored me. I couldn’t do it. I wound that down and closed down those files at about the same time that Lawyerist was starting to look viable. I said, “Let’s give it a shot.” My wife said okay. She had a good and solid job with benefits. She supported me for a few years while we were revving things up and making it work. Eventually, Aaron came on full-time and we started hiring other people, and now it’s a bigger business.
You gave us a great roadmap and there are a lot of people that are reading that are in transition for sure. One of the scariest things I believe about being in transition is not having a plan. That’s a funny thing in the book Pivot where I say at the beginning, “The plan can be your enemy,” because we have to go back to a foundational start point for the transitions that our heart is calling us to. The planning stage is a lot of the head. The lawyer is a heady profession.
It’s a conservative profession. We’re risk-averse. It scares us to do anything other than what we’re doing in a number of different ways.
Do you have a word that you describe that transition?
I don’t, but I’ve been reading social science, literature, behavioral science, because I’m trying to figure out what helps people do it. What is the difference between Monday when you woke up miserable and Tuesday when you woke up miserable, but you decided to do something else? You’ve been trying to get out your door and form a running habit for years and one day it’s the first day in your new running habit and you run for years. What is it that triggers that difference?
I haven’t found a cohesive answer. There are lots of things that do it, but there’s no one answer that works for everybody. Everybody’s a little bit different. I tend to be somebody who’s not sentimental, isn’t all that tied to the background. When things aren’t working, I look for something else. Closing down and selling my litigation practice and trying something else out for me was a small step. I see lots of lawyers who are afraid to reach out and do something different all the time. It’s a constant refrain for us.
It defies a bit of logic and that’s what’s ironic on some level for the lawyers that are reading this because we’re trained in the lodge. We’re trained in the premises that lead to a conclusion that if A plus B then C. If you are waking up, fill in the blank, for me, anxious, angry, dreading the day, miserable. A lot of pretty extreme words that I would wake up feeling that way for many days. I would dread Sundays because they were the thing that led to Mondays. I’d start to feel that anxiety.
The logic is that is going to happen again. If you didn’t change anything, that is going to be your life.
What do you think is going to be different ten years from now? I didn’t have any answer to that because I don’t know that there was an answer to it other than you must change the output, you have to change the input on some level. When you asked that question, my own experience is that pain is the greater of the two catalysts. Pleasure is certainly a catalyst and the prospect of waking up passionate about what you’re going to do and feeling great is an alluring thing. It can get the attention, but there’s something about the way we as a species learn. We learn not to touch the hot pot by touching the hot pot. We get a distinction and our belief system kicks in. It may not be that you never touch the hot pot again, it’s that you don’t touch the pot without gloves or the mittens.
The trick is touching a hot pot is painful. You won’t do it again, but if you stick your hand in the water and then turn the heat on and boil it slowly, you’re going to leave it in there for a long time before you even notice the pain. That’s where most people are, is they’ve been warming up to the pain slowly and it’s hard recognizing that it’s painful. That’s where many people struggle.
Do a lot of lawyers come up to you and ask you to give them advice on how to elegantly, gracefully and safely get out of doing work that they know doesn’t feel good but provides certain security?
We have put together our Small Firm Scorecard. The first three questions on it are about like, “Do you know what you want out of your career? Do you know what you want out of your business? Are you at a firm, whether it’s yours or somebody else’s, that is likely to get you where you’re trying to go in the world?” For a lot of people, that’s a wakeup call that leads them to want more and we work on it because once you’ve had that wake-up call, you’ve got no excuse. Now you’ve got no excuse, you’ve got to confront those problems or stick your head in the sand and then come back later.
If I knew now or knew then what I know now and ‘know’ is a strong word, but having the awareness of other options, I could have stayed in the law. I’m not saying I wanted to or I would do it again differently because I wouldn’t, but I could have. There’s not a big population of lawyers necessarily in our Pivot community or the folks that are reading this but there are always a few dozen that I hear from them. Often, they’ll say, “Does this mean having to quit? Is that what I have to do?” My answer is going to be, “No, it does not mean that you have to quit.”
That doesn’t mean you have to quit your corporate job or any other job or any other profession that you aren’t loving at the moment. There are simple things you can do to change those situations around. Let’s for one second look at the way your company supports people that now it’s for lawyers, but there’s a broader application to the principles that would cover accountants, doctors, entrepreneurs, people that are in the mid-career in their companies. Is that fair?
Most of the people that we bring in to talk to lawyers are people like you who have generally applicable knowledge and that lawyers need to know about. I definitely think it goes the other way too because that’s what we’re drawing on.
What are some of the themes that you’ve gleaned that helped to see their options?
One of the main things that we spend time on is helping lawyers understand the trends in the world and giving them a framework and a set of tools for taking advantage of those trends that are shaping the practice of law in particular. There’s a tendency to look and say, “Things are going well for me now,” and not look forward and say, “Will they continue?” Most of your readers will probably have come across at least one article about, “Is this the end of law practice? Is that the end of lawyers?” Many of them are wishing that will be true.
If you aren’t understanding what is happening in the world that leads people to say this and how it’s going to be impacting your practice. Why it is that many people are glad to hear this news and figuring out, “How can I build a business that is different than that, that takes advantage of all of the potential of the technology that’s been developing?” instead of, “I’m going to keep putting my head in the sand and keep doing things the way things people have always been doing them and expect that my business is going to continue to be successful.”
When there’s no reason to expect that’s going to be true. Every lawyer billing by the hour, sitting in their office is Blockbuster with Netflix breathing down their neck. We’re trying to teach lawyers like, “Don’t sit there and wait for obliteration. Here’s what’s going on in the world. Here’s how to take advantage of those things. Here’s what you need to be building towards.” Even more directly responsive to your question and not even talking about a future trend, let’s look at the practice of law itself. We are the most depressed, suicidal, prone to divorce profession in the world. Our profession is quite literally sick and we can’t continue.What resilience needs to look like is the sense of optimism that you're changing and doing something that will make it better next time. Click To Tweet
The way that the ABA and other organizations are going about addressing this is maybe all they can do, but not helping individuals. It’s time to take a good look at why we’re sick and start refusing to accept the things about law practice that make us sick. Start building healthier law practices that are healthier for us, for our clients and deliver better service across the board and take advantage of the trends that are shaping the practice of law. We’re trying to help lawyers get their heads around all that stuff. One of the biggest things is, put your foot down and refuse to accept the status quo. If it sucks, then move on.
What does it look like to break the status quo for a lawyer? I get to play the angel’s advocate, since we’re both lawyers. I hear you, that all make sense, but with every matter that’s sitting on my desk that I haven’t even gotten to yet, and the ones that are stones thrown from my desk that I’ve been ignoring and the burning ones that I’m dealing with on the phone, where do I find the time? How do I break the status quo?
There are lots of lawyers wondering about that. The number one thing is to recognize that you own a business. Every time I go to a conference, there’s somebody who says the law is not a business. It’s a profession, which is complete bullshit. It is both.
It started in law school because they teach nothing about the business of law.
For example, many of the most common ethics complaints are things like billing disputes and communication problems. None of those are professional things. Lawyering does not involve bouncing trust accounts. That’s a business skill and communication is a business skill. Making sure that you’re sending out good bills is a business skill. If you believe that you are running a profession, not a business, then you are setting yourself up for it to be an unethical lawyer because you have to run a business too. You have to find time to do those things. There’s simply no way, because if you’re running a business without somebody in charge of the business, you’re not giving it the attention it needs.
I haven’t looked at the rules on this topic, maybe jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but to hire a COO, Chief Operations Officer, for your law practice is possible. That person does not need to be a licensed practicing attorney.
You can pay anyone a salary to run your firm.
Operations is an art, a science, a skillset that most people come out of an MBA program don’t know how to be operations people any more than lawyers who know how to manage clients, but you learn through experience how to be an operator and be operationally skilled. This is a lot more than a CLE course. That’s partly the way these things are handled that there are ethics courses that help people to deal with that prevailing staggering statistics about depression, anxiety, suicide, addictions, abuse of trust funds. Let’s go back to one of the ways that you break the status quo is to ask for support and to hire for it where you’re weak. Your blind spot is in the management area. You can hire out for something like that. That’s a significant change. What else can lawyers do? I want to get at the root of why it is that you said lawyers and the paradigm of the law is unhealthy.
The answer to that question is we have an ethic of where we’re proud of ourselves for working all the time. We are proud of billing 80 hours a week. That’s the thing that lawyers wear like a badge on us. We talk about our obligations to our clients and we have to put our client’s interests first. That doesn’t mean that you only have to have your client’s interest in mind. We’re in a service profession and our job is to serve and to sacrifice for our clients. That is part of what we do, but we also get to put some guardrails around that because we don’t also have to sacrifice our happiness and our lives and everything to law practice.
There is pressure to crank out work product in lawyers. The very question that you started with is like, “When I’m flooded with paper that I need to get to work on, when my clients are banging down my door asking me to do things, where do I find the time to work on the business instead of doing tasks?” That is the thing. We hear that over again from lawyers is like, “I don’t have any time to do this shit. I’ve got many cases that I’ve got to deal with because we do the work and we measure our worth by the amount of work and the amount of money we do and we bring in.” When you’re doing that, there is no time for self in there.
This is not like woo self. This is like spending a little bit of time thinking about how you want this business to be and what you want your life to look like. It doesn’t have to be any simpler than if you’re a solo. You may not have taken a vacation since you started your firm. Maybe all you want your life to look like is, “I want to be sitting on a beach sometime in the next twelve months.” Setting a simple goal like that. “I don’t want to bring my phone. I want to get rid of my email app. I want to drop Slack. I don’t want to have anybody bugging me about work for a week.” You can do it. We’ve helped many lawyers do that for the first time. If you haven’t done that, there’s something broken about your business.
I keynoted a conference for ALM in September, the General Counsel Conference for 2019. We talked about this one particular root cause of lawyers are driven by an hourly, meaning that they’re compensated often by how much they can charge for their time on an hourly basis. The compensation structure itself is one that can be reexamined because compensation drives behavior unit. What’s the greater motivator pain or pleasure? In this instance, there’s the pain of the calls that you get from your client, or potentially even a violation of some ethical standard and the repercussions that come from that kind of thing. That acts that hang over the profession.
There’s the daily requirement that you bill enough to pay the bills. You bill enough because if you’re in a firm, it’s what’s required of you in order to meet your standards, get your bonus. That’s one of those areas that we can say generally, the compensation drives behavior in any organization. What are you compensating for? For example, in the tech space, I find it interesting that some of the most successful companies create bonuses and will incentivize project managers for scuttling a project, for pulling the plug on a project that isn’t working for example because they are innovative firms.
In the past, if somebody was working on a project and it wasn’t going well, the fear that they could be fired, or the fear that they’d be wrong and what that would do to their career was great. They let those projects go on, hoping, praying, and maybe working themselves to death to try to make them work, but ultimately when they didn’t work, it costs time, resources, energy, money, etc. only to come to the same conclusion. They incentivize through their compensation structure, which includes money and advancement, as well as other accolades. They incentivize people to go, “This is not going to work this way.” They pull the plug on it.
When was the last time the lawyer got awarded for dropping a client?
Dropping a client, saying, “My mistake. Bad call here.” It’s not a winnable case.
That’s something we’ve done in our conference in the past is we’ve had an obsession where it’s like, “Figure out who your worst client is and fire them.”
Performance-based fear arrangements are an example of where that’s possible. It incentivizes the focus on an outcome versus how much time you can bill. At that conference, they didn’t bring me in there to speak about that. What we were talking about there was resilience, knowing that the structural changes need to be made in the profession. It seems that’s what’s required. What do we do for people that can’t necessarily change those structures by themselves and there’s no paradigm shift happening at the moment? What do we do to show up and perform better at a higher level without the cost of our families or the cost of our health? I put that question to you. When you’re advising folks and you’re bringing people in to talk about this, what are the options for lawyers when it comes to managing 70 or 80-hour billable and they’re married, they’ve got a couple of kids and the Coronavirus hanging around? What do I do?
Lawyers are outstanding at endurance, going until you break, which is fine in a marathon and terrible in your life, career and business. What resilience needs to look like is, it’s like the sense of optimism that you’re changing something, that you are doing something that will make it better next time. Figuring out and identifying the things that aren’t working and then trying some things to figure out how to make them work. One of my goals, which I’ve never quite accomplished, but I’ve almost got to it is when I was practicing law, I said I want to get paid for 40 hours a week, I only want to work ten hours a week. I never quite got there, but I could probably do it if I wanted to at this point, because I’m not practicing law anymore. I know lawyers who have the same goal and are doing similar things or who have similar goals because they’re trying to build systems around what they do, not pick up the next brief and then write it from scratch.
I know a lawyer who spends about 2/3 of every year in Bhutan because that’s how he wants to live his life. He makes a good living on top of it and his firm keeps going while he’s gone. I know a lot of lawyers who are refusing to accept that status quo of working 80 hours a week and instead are figuring out, “If my time is not how I’m going to value my worth, then how do I do things differently?” Most of our lawyers are figuring out ways to get away from billable hours because you can’t leverage your time in the way that you can leverage other types of efficiency. Resilience is having a plan. We talk a lot about intentionality and you can get woo with intentionality. At its core, it’s getting up in the morning and deciding, “What am I going to do today?” When you start a firm, it’s, “What do I want this thing to do for me? What do I want it to look like?” It’s taking a moment to decide what you want next. Once you’ve said that, then you can find paths to it.You can’t leverage your time in the way that you can leverage other types of efficiency. Click To Tweet
If you never stopped to question, “Why am I doing it this way? Am I okay with this?” I briefly alluded to this, but when my first daughter was born, I was a full-time litigator working many weeks, 60 to 80 hours and I brought my laptop to the delivery room and my wife’s a lawyer too, so she got it. Once she passed out from the epidural, I opened my laptop and started working. I was back at work two days later because it was me. There’s nobody to backstop me at my firm. By the time my second daughter was born 22 or 23 months later, I had found a path towards winding down most of my litigation and selling off that piece of my firm.
I had launched a new practice area that allowed me to work from anywhere and to be less connected to what I was doing and to change the model because I wasn’t willing to accept that anymore. I’m not going to buy a boat and live on a boat in the Mediterranean. That doesn’t bring me any advantages. I wanted to pivot. I wanted to change what I was doing, not all of a sudden, throw everything out the window and run off to the ends of the world. That’s what resilience is like, “I refuse to accept this and I have a plan. Here’s what I want next.” You start putting a plan together for how to get there. That is on a day-to-day basis. You get an argument and you’re like, “I don’t want that to happen again. Here’s how I’m going to handle it next.” It’s that repeated like, “How can I improve this next time?” That’s most of what it is and believe that it can be better next time.
We get the pleasure of speaking to lawyer groups on a regular basis, which is wonderful. We talk a lot about not accepting the status quo. It doesn’t require that you have an answer to have an awareness. The awareness is the start of all change anyhow. You’ve automatically changed the status quo by the fact that you’ve had an awareness. You said something that hit home for me and use the word ‘backstopping.’ We’ve got four kids and our son is the only baseball player with three girls and a boy. The girls started playing Tee-ball. I was their Tee-ball coach for a while.
Our son played for a lot of years and it’s a basic principle in baseball that you backstop each other, always running behind the ball. That’s a question for people reading this now, who is backstopping you? Whether it’s the legal profession or any profession or any area of business, resilience I find comes from knowing that people have your back. We’re much more resilient when we don’t believe we’re completely solo on the thing. There’s a way to offload or if you can’t handle it, you’ve got a weekend where there are dance recitals and that’s where you want to be present. There’s also that same weekend when there are some deadlines to this and things that have to get done. What do you do? Who’s backstopping you in those instances?
Not having that backstop, it’s constantly trying to squeeze more juice out of something that isn’t regenerating the juice fast enough. Whereas if you had to work a weekend and it wasn’t a weekend that you had something else that was pressing as a priority, there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re not doing that weekend after weekend or you’re forced to make that choice between something that’s a part of your value system. As we’ve looked at research on resilience and done our own, resilience is broken down in the four areas.
It’s mental for sure and lawyers are probably more mentally exhausted than almost any other group we’ve ever talked to. It’s emotional and this is a lot of emotional stuff that gets stuffed and not dealt with. It’s physical for sure and clearly lawyers win on that score because they’ve got the Rocky model dialed in. No matter how many times you’re knocked down, you somehow stand up. It doesn’t mean you win the fight in the end. You’re all banged after all is said and done, but you’re still standing and then it’s spiritual as well.
That’s where it fell apart from me. I could handle all the other stuff, but when my value system was in conflict, meaning I wanted to be a great dad, a great husband, enjoy my life and enjoy my family. I wasn’t seeing them, I was missing them at dinner and missing them sometimes even go to bed at night, it became torture on the inside. That was the pain I was talking about. That was the thing I couldn’t personally reconcile. One of those great areas for everybody to think about is where can you be backstopped? Backstopped doesn’t necessarily even mean people because the world we’re living in is there’s AI back up.
If you build your firm with it in mind, you can use technology as a backstop for sure.
The possibilities for that are limitless. Where could AI come into play? Where could AR come into play? Where could any number of other new technologies be that extra person on the field for you? That’s the question. To me, I don’t believe you ever asked a question without there being an answer. I don’t know when you’re going to get the answer, but one will come. Give us a preview on the horizon for your company. What are you guys excited about? What are you building?
I’m working on helping the team prep for our conference in Atlanta. That community that we’ve built, that will be at the conference. The Lawyersist Lab is where our focus is and building more value for them. I have taught myself to code over the years and I do most of our software coding. I’ve been deep in the weeds on building some software for our community that I’m excited to show them at LabCon because it’s going to be the thing that helps them identify, where is the status quo for our firm and what does need to change? Let’s find those levers that we can pull. We are constantly working on ways to help people get a better picture of where they are and where they need to be. That’s what our book, our scorecard, our community is all about and doubling down on that. We’ve proved all of the concepts that are at the core of what we do and now there’s the hard work to do with making all of those things awesome. That’s where our attention and our work is.
What’s the name of the book?
It’s called The Small Firm Roadmap and you can get the first chapter for free on our website. You should do that because if you read it and you’re like, “These guys are full of shit,” then don’t buy the book. If you read it and it resonates with you, then you will know that the book is something that you’ll enjoy the rest of.
What’s one ritual that you’ve got to build resilience for yourself?
I don’t have a lot of rituals, but probably the most important thing I do is I take my anxiety medicine every morning. Without it, I tend to fall into those holes and with it, I am able to ride out on top of it. That’s probably the most important thing I do every single day.
When there’s something that would help, but you decide not to go down that road because of some other reason and think that you can do it on your own, it’s that same mentality. I truly believe some people and often entrepreneurs have this gene that they think they get more points in heaven for doing it alone, as opposed to, “What are those backstops for everyone?” I love that theme that you gave to us. I appreciate this conversation and I appreciate you and the work that you’re doing with the Lawyerist. Thank you.
Thank you. It has been a pleasure
My reminder to all of us is we all can decide at the beginning of every day how resilient we intend to be for that day. Intentions are powerful. For me, resilience fundamentally is the most important skill that I have these days, the ability not to weather storms, but to utilize the change that’s around, to turn those things into something valuable. It’s an alchemy of sorts. I have a ritual and it was the ritual that replaced my old ritual, which was to put my feet on the floor at the beginning of the day. This was when I was fully practicing law and I would say something like this, “Fuck.”
I would start my day with some form of expletive because I couldn’t believe that I didn’t sleep as well as I expected to. I wasn’t sure what the day was going to hold, but I knew I was probably going to get angry quickly. Now, I start my day putting my feet on the floor and realizing at that moment that as I’m waking up, there are people who are taking their last breath right then. It’s a wake-up call for me in many ways to be grateful for anything and anything that comes to mind at that moment. In that gratitude, I follow up with a statement, declare out loud, “I love my life.” These four simple words have had a profound impact on me.
All the folks that are buying into this idea that intentions are powerful and the beginning of the day is a powerful time to set an intention, wake up tomorrow, feel some gratitude at that moment and choose to say something out loud. It could be like, “I’m going to pretend that I love my life today.” Somebody shared that with me. “I love my life,” is a strong statement. It may be that your mind says to you, “That’s a lie. That’s not true.” Maybe you want to love your life. You could say, “I pretend.” That’s okay too. Sam, do you have something you say when you wake up or is this something you might say tomorrow?
Sometimes I roar. I find that roaring is an excellent way to wake up and smile. It’s like the barbaric yawp from Dead Poets Society. Get up and roar. Sometimes I do that. I tell my kids to do it too when they’re having a hard time getting out of bed. That’s one of my favorite things. That’ll open your eyes and get you going because after you’ve let out a big roar, you can’t go back to sleep because you’ve announced the beginning of the day.
I saw this movie years ago, which is a favorite of mine called Meatballs. There’s a great scene at the beginning of Meatballs with Bill Murray. It’s June and he’s in this cabin that’s 40 degrees during the night and he puts his feet on the floor and he goes, “I’m your head counselor,” as he stretches back out. I do that too, Sam. What a blast. Have a great rest of your day or evening. Ciao for now.
About Sam Glover
Sam Glover is the founder of Lawyerist.com. Sam helps lawyers understand the economic, demographic, and technological changes shaping the present and future of small-firm law practice. As the former host of The Lawyerist Podcast, you’ll still hear from Sam occasionally as a podcast guest. (And, of course, you’ll see him at LabCon.)