Getting through law school and passing the bar examination 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. 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 the entire grade in a class is largely based on one stressful 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 understanding a foreign language that many others do not speak or understand.
Even with all this training, 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 better. 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 this is because the average grade on the curve is in the high C or low B range in most law school classes versus undergraduate studies where they probably made mostly A’s and B’s. Or, perhaps many lawyers simply do not understand how much they actually understand 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 their time is valuable, many lawyers and law firms end up struggling.
This can culminate in all kinds of ways:
1.) Some lawyers may end up charging significantly less than the market demands for their legal services. This can result in a lawyer struggling to pay their bills or keep their law firm afloat.
2.) 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 too often (even where the client is not indigent or unable to pay).
3.) Some lawyers might not record significant portions of time that they spent on their clients’ cases due to the lack of value they equate to themselves. This can result in a lawyer not being paid fairly for the time they spent on clients’ cases because they do not value their time.
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.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.