The education and training that lawyers receive is valuable. For some reason, many lawyers are prone to forgetting their value.
Getting through law school and passing the bar is a significant achievement. In this day and age, lawyers have to spend considerable amounts of money to get through law school. The cost is greatly more today than it was for lawyers in the past.
In truth, most lawyers also walk out of law school with considerable law school debt. This is unlike days past where lawyers did not have the debt that lawyers have today.
Law school itself takes considerable effort as well. Attending college for three years and passing a bar exam is not an easy achievement. In fact, getting through law school takes a considerable amount of effort. It results in attending classes for three years, reading lots of case and statutory law and taking arduous final exams where their entire grade in a class is largely based on one test.
All the hard work is not without a reward. The reality is that a lawyer ends up with a knowledge of the law and the legal system that most people do not even remotely understand. In a lot of ways, it’s like understand a foreign language that many others do not even remotely understand.
For whatever reason, many lawyers come out not thinking of their time as being valuable. They end up underestimating the knowledge they have and the services they can provide clients to make their lives bed. Perhaps this is because the socratic method employed in many law school classrooms does not lend to a lawyer coming out feeling very confident in themselves. Perhaps many lawyers do not understand how much they understand about the law when compared to non-lawyers.
Nonetheless, one of the first steps of any successful lawyer is understanding that their time is valuable. Certainly lawyers have a duty to provide the best possible representation. Lawyers also have a duty to be communicative, diligent and competent. At the same time, until a lawyer comes to terms with the fact that there time is valuable, many lawyers and law firms end up struggling.
This can culminate in all kinds of ways:
- Some lawyers may end up charging significantly less than the market demand for their legal services. This can result in a lawyer struggling to pay their bills or keep their law firm afloat.
- Some lawyers might end up running up significant accounts receivables because they do not value what they do. This can result in lawyers essentially working for free way too often (even where the client is not indigent and unable to pay).
- Some lawyers might not record significant portions of time that they spent on their clients’ cases for no reason for no particular reason. This can result in a lawyer not being paid fairly for work time they did spend on clients’ cases.
The truth is that successful lawyers largely value their time. They understand that they have something to offer to clients. They understand that they deserve to be paid for what they do. They understand that when they are working on their clients’ cases, they are not with their family or engaging in their favorite activities or hobbies.
All lawyers should critically analyze whether they are valuing their time. If in practice they are not doing so, it’s time to start analyzing why not.