Last month I reflected on my incredible journey to freelancing. This month I’m going to do something I think everyone needs to do: Celebrate Your Wins.
I don’t just mean the cases you’ve won. Sure, we’ll celebrate those and normally we do so at the time of the win, but they aren’t the only things you have to feel good about.
Celebrate your growth. New clients? More clients? More referrals from clients? Yeah — all this. But what if you didn’t add clients, is there nothing celebrate? Of course there is! Think of the quality of work you provided to your clients. Perhaps you added a level of service you didn’t have before. Perhaps you have established or improved your processes, making your firm more efficient or more accommodating to client needs. Celebrate these too.
Celebrate your staff. Did you hire staff? Did you work with a team of other attorneys on a case? Did you bring in a freelancer or other remote staff to assist you. Did you already have someone working with you part time or even full time? Yeah — all this too. Your staff is a critical part of your success. Hiring a virtual receptionist made contacting your office easier and enabled clients to talk to a live person each and every time they call — this is something to be proud of. 82% of clients have ended an attorney relationship because of a lack of or poor communication. Your office runs more smoothly because you hired a virtual legal secretary who took all sorts of administrative tasks of your plate. You are capturing more billable time and at a higher rate because you hired a freelance paralegal to assist you with substantive tasks. Your billing is up. In your inbox is clear, and you can take on even more work. You appreciate the work they do. Celebrate it!
Celebrate the lessons you learned. Difficult clients? Challenging cases? New legal premises you haven’t met before? Yup, you guessed it — these too. Perhaps your best laid plans failed and your efforts to increase efficiency fell by the wayside in the face of personal tragedy or illness. Perhaps you received more public defender work from the state than normal or perhaps you handled more pro bono work than you normally do, in which case I commend you. Both public defenders and pro bono work are essential to a system of justice predicated on equal protection under the law — and equal access to it. Perhaps you had a client whose expectations were never aligned with the reality of the process associated with their case, and who could not amend those expectations when you explained how it all works; they were not a good fit and would have been disappointed no matter what. Be happy about the new caselaw and legal premises you learned in addressing an interstate — or international — custody case or a new set of policies associated with LGBTQIA estate planning. These experiences taught you valuable information which will serve you and your clients for the rest of your career. Celebrate!
Celebrate the disasters. Don’t ignore the negative things that happened either. You should sit with those events, really hold onto them and turn them over in your head. Listen to that really loud voice screaming about the things that went wrong. Understand the feelings and thoughts these events create. And then, take a breath, and listen to that OTHER voice; the rational voice that tells you, far more quietly, that it’s something to learn from. Understand this loud negative voice never goes away, that it’s your primal reflex bringing attention to something you need to understand and think about. Celebrate it too.
No matter what the circumstances, it’s important to reflect on all the things we have to celebrate. Too often we get bogged down in the weeds and focus on what isn’t good enough.
Take December to celebrate what is.
Alison Pacuska is the president of Pacuska Professional Services, a boutique consulting firm focused on top-tier paralegal and legal assistant services with a focus on intellectual property and solo practitioners. Talk with her about your practice needs.